This is one of the very best cakes – so light; it feels like you’re eating a cloud. It’s perfect alone, but makes a great basic cake, sliced and filled with custard; frosted with whipping cream; piled high with fresh peaches or strawberries; on a pool of crème anglaise; or drizzled with chocolate.
It’s important to whip the egg whites until very stiff peaks form – really stiffer than angel food cake or meringue. The stiff whites ensure the cake will rise properly, and they need to be folded into the remaining ingredients thoroughly; otherwise you’ll end up with the bottom a heavy, dense, wet business. Enjoy!
1 ½ cups sugar
1 1/3 cups plain cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
7 large eggs: 2 left whole, 5 separated, all at room temperature
¾ cup water
½ cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle and heat oven to 325°.
Whisk sugar, flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.
Whisk in two whole eggs, five egg yolks (reserve whites), water, oil and extracts.
Whisk until batter is just smooth.
Beat egg whites in another large bowl on low speed until foamy – about one minute. Add cream of tartar, gradually increase speed to medium-high and beat whites until very thick and stiff, just short of dry (9-10 minutes with handheld mixer and 5-7 minutes with standing mixer).
Fold egg whites into batter, smearing any blobs of white that resist blending.
Pour batter into un-greased large tube pan (16 cup capacity). Rap pan against countertop five times to rupture any large air pockets.
Bake cake until wire tester inserted in center comes out clean, 55 – 65 minutes. Immediately turn cake upside down to cool over a bottle or funnel. Let cake hang until completely cool, about 2 hours.
To un-mold, run a thin knife around pan’s circumference, pressing against pan. Use a cake tester to loosen cake from tube. Remove from pan after taping a few times on counter. Wrap in plastic and store at room temp for 2 days or refrigerate for 4 days. Freeze if holding it for longer than that. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.