Patriot Day Angel Food Cake Recipe

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Photo Credit:  Tristan Peirce 

Honor. Bake. Celebrate!

Some call it “the day that changed the world”. For me, until that September 11th, it had always just been a happy day and my birthday. On September 11, 2001 – a Tuesday, as I recall – I had just emerged from the subway, so I’d been out of touch for a bit, but when I came out onto one of Toronto’s busiest streets – Yonge Street – I saw people clustered around electronics stores, staring at banks of TVs in the windows, each one playing what? A movie? The latest Hollywood blockbuster? Some blow-em-up thriller with Bruce Willis? But the mood was too solemn, and there were tears, too. And people looking dazed, wracked with disbelief. In shock.

To be sure, 9/11 is a day that has left an indelible mark on America and much of the world. The actions of a few on that day, created thousands of victims and heroes, and wrote countless stories. But September 11th wasn’t always colored with sadness, it used to be a day like any other, and for some – like me – it will always be a bitter-sweet day of celebration and remembering.   

And now, September 11 is Patriot Day and it’s still my birthday – and, I bet, a whole lot of you reading this have birthdays on this day too – so let’s celebrate this special day by baking a cake; one that uses lots and lots of fresh, homegrown eggs!

Red, White, and Blue Chocolate Angel Food Cake

High, fluffy, and light. Angel food cakes are bit fussy to make, but, boy oh boy, do they ever make an impression, and the texture is otherworldly…and if not on this day, then when?


½ cup loosely packed, excellent quality pure, unsweetened cocoa

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½ cup boiling water

½ cup vegetable oil

½ cup buttermilk or kefir

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

7 free-run egg yolks

1 ¾ cups sifted cake and pastry flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 ¼ cups packed brown sugar

7 free-run egg whites

½ tsp cream of tartar

½ cup white sugar

½ cup fresh strawberries or raspberries

½ cup fresh blueberries


Preheat oven to 325F and adjust the oven rack to the lower third of the oven.

In a medium bowl, use a whisk to blend the cocoa powder with the boiling water until smooth.

Add the oil, buttermilk or kefir, and vanilla to the cocoa liquid; whisk to combine well.

Add the egg yolks and whisk to combine; go fast, so the yolks don’t cook in the hot cocoa liquid.

Into a large mixing bowl, sift in the flour, baking powder and salt. Combine.

Add the brown sugar, combine and smash any lumps.

Add the cocoa mixture to the dry mixture and stir just to eliminate any lumps. Do not over-stir or it will become leathery when baked.

Wipe out a large bowl or the bowl attached to a stand mixer with a drop of lemon juice or vinegar and a fresh kitchen towel to eliminate any grease, which will inhibit the formation of a stiff meringue. Add the egg whites.

Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until just frothy; now add the cream of tartar, crank it up to high speed, add the white sugar, and continue to beat until glossy peaks form.

Now, in three batches, add the egg whites to the chocolate batter, gently folding it in after every addition. Try not to deflate the meringue too much!

Transfer the batter into an ungreased angel food cake pan and bake in the lower part of the oven for about 55 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes – this depends on your oven and even the humidity. To test for doneness, a pick inserted into the middle should emerge clean, and the surface should bounce back from a light touch.

When done, set the cake in its pan on a cooling rack; allow it to cool completely before unmolding. To unmold, run a knife all around the edges then invert it directly onto the serving plate. It’s a delicate cake that doesn’t want to be handled too much.

Just before serving, dress this light and fluffy cake up with something simple: your favourite ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. I like to fill the center cavity with Vanilla Whipped Cream, then cover the whole cake in even more cream! Garnish the whole shebang with a pile of berries – and perhaps even a sparkler? – then celebrate! Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for a few minutes; the cream won’t last.    

To Make the Vanilla Whipped Cream

Into the bowl of a stand mixer or into a mixing bowl with hand beaters, add 3 cups of 35% (whipping cream) with 2 tsp of pure vanilla extract and 2 Tbsp superfine (fruit) sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. If you like the teeny black specks of real vanilla, go ahead and split and scrape a whole vanilla bean into the cream instead of using extract.

Signe Langford

Signe Langford

Signe Langford is the author of Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs; Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden with 100 Recipes. She is a chef, Toronto food writer and backyard chicken fanatic.


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