Angel Food Cake with 7-Minute Icing and Summer Berries

Every Fourth of July my Grandma and I make an angel food cake (from a box) with 7-Minute Icing (from scratch). Fourth of July is probably the only hot holiday in Minnesota, so we take full advantage of the “summer heat” by preparing a suitable light dessert. Independence Day also happens to be my birthday, and aside from the usual “Born on the 4th of July!” comments that I get, a lot of people want to know why I want to make my own birthday cake. I think it’s less about the work (after all, I am using a cake mix) and more about the time I get to spend with my Grandma. We’ve been baking this cake since I was in high school, and it’s one of my favorite summer rituals.

Here I am a high schooler, with my traditional bday cake and my beautiful grandma Louise!

I won’t bore you with how to make a box angel food cake – the Betty Crocker package instructions are quite accurate! – but I will share a few tips we’ve learned along the way, as well as a recipe for making  7-minute icing.

The first thing you want to do when you take the cake out of the oven is to turn it upside down right away. They sell angel food cake pan “stands,” but a bottle of Tabasco hot sauce works just as well.

When the cake is fully cooled, use a knife or flat spatula to loosen the sides and remove it from the pan.

Gently remove any crumbs from the cake, as they can be a nuisance when frosting. Allow the cake to cool completely.

To make the frosting, create a double boiler out of a medium saucepan and a medium mixing bowl. Fill the saucepan with water until the level is just below the bottom of the mixing bowl (do not let the bowl sit in water). REMOVE the mixing bowl from the saucepan before you heat the water. Turn the burner on high until the water boils, then reduce to a simmer.

Meanwhile, whisk together 2 egg whites, 1/3 c. water, 1 c. plus 2 T. sugar, 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in the mixing bowl. Once combined, place bowl over simmering water and beat mixture on low speed for about 1 minute.

Gradually increase the speed of your mixer to high, until the frosting forms stiff peaks (about 5 minutes). Be sure to periodically lift the side of the mixing bowl slightly to allow some steam to escape. You don’t want to end up like my great-aunt and have 7-Minute Icing all over your kitchen walls!

Remove mixture from heat and beat for 2 minutes more.  Gently fold in 1 T. vanilla.

Frost the cake immediately. For best results, begin frosting the cake from the top (use more than you think you’ll need)…

…then spread the extra frosting over the sides. Use a flat spatula or knife to smooth the top and sides.

For Independence Day, we decorated our cake with blueberries and fresh strawberries from my uncle Jamie’s garden.

Happy (belated) Independence Day from Chef Louise and Sous-Chef Sarah!


Filed under Birthdays, Family, Food, Grandmothers, Holidays, Nostalgia, Recipes, Traditions

8 responses to “Angel Food Cake with 7-Minute Icing and Summer Berries

  1. Mom

    great instructive blog and nice pics!

  2. I really liked the picture flow; you started out in high school and ended up all grown up!

    • golfharp

      Thanks Noel! It’s amazing to marvel at the fact that I’m already 27. I still enjoy my birthdays though and try to celebrate each to its fullest. I think it’s a shame that just because people “get older” they dread birthdays, or at least downplay them. I hope I can keep my spirits up all the way to 97! Hope to see you and Lynne at Scholz on the 24th. By the way…do you ever use white miso in your cooking? We have practically a full jar that we don’t want to go to waste because of our move. It’s yours if you’d like it!

  3. Dianna

    Thanks for the blow by blow on 7 minute icing. I have always messed it up but I think I’ll try again.

    • Dianna, Glad I could help! Let me know if you run into any hiccups along the way, and I’ll see if I can tap into my grandmother’s wisdom to lend a hand. One word for the wise, 7 minute icing doesn’t hold up well in humid weather, and it’s best when made on the day of use. It will keep up to 4 hours in the fridge before serving. You can also frost the cake and leave it uncovered at room temp. (in an air-conditioned room) for four hours before serving. Happy frosting!

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