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Family Recipe Series: Helen Horstmann

In anticipation of our April 11th Edible World event, Sunday Supper and Family Lore, the First Person Blog will feature the stories and family recipes of Philly food personalities. From now till the event, look out for recipes from the likes of chefs, writers and people who just love eating, making and talking about food and family.

Today we are featuring Helen Horstmann of Philly Foodie. On Wednesday, look for Philly food character Ed Tettemer and his recipe for Beach Bean Soup.

Want to be like our Philly Foodies? Share a family recipe at our Edible World event! Send your recipe, story and a photo to Karina by April 2nd! Reserve your seat at the event here.

Mama Horstmann in Action

Mama Horstmann in Action

My mother is a well-known cheater. She is the person with her thumb on the egg in the egg and spoon race, the one stealing from the bank when you play Monopoly, the one who “accidentally” whacks you with a wiimote. She freely changes the rules of a game to suit her needs, and laughs as she does it. So, it should hardly be a shock that she doesn’t exactly play fair when it comes to food.

Specifically, she believes it is her right to consume only what she finds tastiest. The person eating all the berries off the fruit platter? The one leaving behind the rind on the brie? The consumer of chicken skin, muffin tops, and the ice cream on an a la mode? All my mother.

One of the delights of my childhood was a weekly angel food cake. If you have not had the regular pleasure of consuming fresh angel food cakes, the best part is the crust on top. The fluffy center clings to the softly crunchy caramelized exterior. It’s cool and sweet and light on the tongue, and you can eat it every week and never get sick of it. Or, at least, I assume you can… because my mother always did.

It’s a wonderful dish when the second best is consumed with as much relish as the choice bits. But my own crusts taste all the sweeter for knowing that it’s my right to pull them off and gobble them up, without any cares for fairness or making things even.

4417405202_ea197f9738Once you get going, you don’t want to pause during this recipe, so prep everything ahead of time. Preheat the oven to 350. The cake needs to cool upside-down, so make sure you have a bottle the tube pan will fit on, or you can balance the pan on 4 glasses. Wipe down your egg-beating bowl and beaters with white vinegar to remove any trace amounts of grease; the whites won’t whip if there’s fat around. You also don’t want to overbeat or make your egg whites too stiff; you should be able to pour the final mixture, not need to scoop it.

Angel Food Cake (from the Joy of Cooking)

* 1 1/2 cups egg whites (approximately 12 large eggs)
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 1 cup cake flour (no, not all-purpose flour)
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 tsp vanilla extract (if you have nice stuff, use it now)
* 1 tsp cream of tartar
* 1 tbsp water
* 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Measure out 3/4 cup of sugar into a bowl. In a second bowl, put the flour, another 3/4 cup sugar, and sift it 3 times. Then get cracking, and separate those eggs! Whites go into a large mixing bowl; reserve the yolks for something else.

4417408392_f2a0410e85Put the cream of tartar, vanilla extract, water and lemon juice into the mixing bowl with your egg whites. Mix for one minute on low to incorporate the ingredients, then bring the mixer up to medium. Mix for 2-4 minutes, until the egg whites are foamy and about 5 times more voluminous than when you started. Start adding your 3/4 cup of sugar, in tablespoons, over 2-3 minutes. When you’ve finished, the mixture should be glossy and starting to hold peaks.

The rest you have to do by hand. Sift approximately 1/8 of the flour mixture over the whites, and fold until just incorporated. Repeat 7 times, until all the flour mixture is incorporated. Pour into a 10 inch tube pan, and smooth the top.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Or feel free to make it from a mix; we always did. (But, you know, that was back in the day when the angel food cake mix came in 2 pouches — ooh, complicated!)

Cool upside-down for at least an hour and a half. Steal crusts as desired.

– Helen Horstmann

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