Who didn’t grow up with some version of this cake? Susan Holding, Baraboo-area author of “The Little French Bakery Cookbook,” shares her favorite birthday cake rendition—light, fluffy and sweetly colorful. What helps promote the fluff? Egg whites, which are best whipped at room temperature. Holding’s speedy tip for warming them up: Place egg whites in a bowl, and set that bowl over another that’s filled with warm water. Gently swish the egg whites until they feel slightly warmer than room temperature. And how to best cool the cake before removing from the tube pan? “My mom always propped the pan upside down on top of a bottle,” says Holding. The finishing touch? “This is the best icing for an angel food cake. Don’t let the one egg fool you. You’ll have plenty of icing,” she says. But, she warns, “Don’t overbeat or the mixture will become grainy.”

Makes on angel food cake

1¾ c. sugar (process 2 minutes in food processor to make super fine)
¼ tsp. salt
1 c. cake flour, sifted twice
12 egg whites, carefully separated (not a speck of yolk), room temperature
1/3 c. warm water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1½ tsp. cream of tartar
2/3 Tbsp. multicolored sprinkles or Jimmies

Preheat oven to 350F. In a food processor mill the sugar about 2 minutes until superfine. Mix half the sugar with the salt and cake flour. Set remaining sugar aside.

Combine egg whites, water, vanilla extract and cream of tartar in mixing bowl. Using a hand or stand mixer, whip until foamy. Slowly sift the remaining sugar into the egg whites, raise the mixer speed to medium/ high. Continue until medium peaks form. The egg whites should make peaks that may droop slightly after a few moments.

Dust the top of the egg mixture with a sprinkle of the flour mixture and, using a spatula, fold in gently. Divide remaining flour into two to three parts; gently fold in one part at a time, well.

Carefully spoon mixture into an ungreased angel food cake pan. Bake 35 minutes. Wooden skewer or toothpick should come out clean and dry when testing for doneness.

Cool upside down on cooling rack for at least an hour before removing from pan.


1 egg white
1 c. sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
½ c. boiling water
1-2 drops food coloring (red or pink)

Mix all ingredients except boiling water in large mixing bowl. Then, add boiling water all at once and beat 5 to 7 minutes on high until light, fluffy and of good spreading consistency. Don’t overbeat or the mixture will become grainy.

Excerpted from “The Little French Bakery Cookbook” by Susan Holding. little french bakery

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