Yes it's true, even experienced bakers such as myself make cakes that flop every now and then.
This is my failed attempt at this week's Heavenly Cake Bakers selection of the Chocolate Tweed Angel Food Cake from Rose's Heavenly Cakes. I've successfully made many Angel Food cakes over the years. Never had one fall until today.
The recipe started innocently enough - I carefully weighed each of the ingredients.
Whipped my room temperature egg whites to the frothy stage before adding cream of tartar.
Continued beating, adding the sugar as directed. Whipped until the whites reached stiff peaks.
Carefully folded in the flour, salt, sugar mixture.
Carefully folded in the grated chocolate.
So far, so good.
Now here is where I did something I had never done before... I "prepared" the sides of the ungreased tube pan with a thin layer of cake batter (as directed in the recipe). The process was uneventful and I doubt it had anything to do with the cake ultimately falling out of the pan.
A quick run through the batter with a spatula to remove any air bubbles.
I smoothed the batter and cleaned up the edges of the cake pan.
The directions say the cake should bake in the bottom third of a 350F oven for 30-40 minutes, until the batter puffs up, cracks, browns, and starts to shrink back in the pan. Check.
I baked my cake for a total of 35 minutes.
The cake is then immediately inverted over a bottle to cool upside down.
But less than a minute later, I watched as the cake fell right out of the pan.
I don't know what happened. We've had quite a bit of rain over the last 3 days, and I know egg whites and humidity don't jive, but there hasn't been any rain today and my whites whipped up nicely. The humidity is currently 61% - not sure if that led to the fall or not. I'll quit while I'm ahead and serve this cake as is to the kids when they get home from school. I'm sure they won't mind.
Update - the humidity was 61% when I started this cake 2 hours ago, but I just checked again and it seems the humidity has risen to 78% - thoughts?
You win some, you loose some.
What can I say.
Note - many bakers in the group had no trouble with this recipe, but a few of us ended up with fallen cakes. If you're so inclined to give it a go, the recipe is posted here on NPRs website. I've copied it below.
Chocolate Tweed Angel Food Cake
by Rose Levy Beranbaum
Serves 14 to 16
1-1/2 cups, divided superfine sugar
3/4 cup cake flour, lightly spooned and leveled off (or 1 cup, sifted into the cup and leveled off)
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 large egg whites, at room temperature, or 2 cups
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 ounces fine-quality unsweetened or 99% cacao chocolate, chilled, finely grated, refrigerated
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT:One ungreased 10-inch (16 cups) two-piece metal tube pan or 1 long-necked glass wine or soda bottle, or a large inverted metal funnel that will fit into the opening at the top of the pan. (Have this ready before baking and weight it by filling it with sugar or marbles to keep it from tipping)
PREHEAT THE OVEN: Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.
PREPARE THE SUGAR, FLOUR, AND SALT: In a small bowl, whisk together half the sugar, the flour, and salt until evenly combined. Sift the remaining sugar onto a piece of wax paper.
BEAT THE EGG WHITES INTO A STIFF MERINGUE: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. With the mixer off, add the cream of tartar. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised. Gradually beat in the sifted sugar and continue beating on medium-high speed until very stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly. Beat in the vanilla until combined.
MAKE THE BATTER: Dust (lightly sprinkle) the flour mixture over the beaten whites, 1/4 cup at a time (if using cake flour, sift it over the whites). With a large balloon whisk, slotted skimmer, or large silicone spatula, fold in the flour mixture quickly but gently. It is not necessary to incorporate every speck until the last addition. Fold in the grated chocolate until evenly incorporated. Using a long narrow spatula or silicone spatula, spread a thin layer of batter onto the sides of the prepared pan to ensure smooth sides. Empty the rest of the batter into the pan. In a 16-cup pan, it will be 1/2-inch from the top of the rim. Run a small metal spatula or knife through the batter to prevent air pockets and smooth the surface evenly.
BAKE THE CAKE: Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown, a wire cake tester inserted between the tube and the side comes out clean, and the cake springs back when lightly pressed in the center. (A wooden toothpick will still have a few moist crumbs clinging to it.) During baking, the center will rise about 2 inches above the pan, but it will sink to almost level with the pan when done. The surface will have deep cracks, like a souffle.
COOL AND UNMOLD THE CAKE: Invert the pan immediately, placing the tube opening over the neck of the bottle to suspend it well above the countertop. Cool completely in the pan, about 1-1/2 hours.
Loosen the sides of the pan with a long narrow spatula and remove the center core of the pan. Dislodge the cake from the bottom and center core with a metal spatula or thin sharp knife. (A wire cake tester or wooden skewer works well around the core. To keep the sides attractive, press the spatula firmly against the sides of the pan, moving the spatula up and down as you go around it.) Invert the cake onto a flat plate covered with plastic wrap that has been coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray and reinvert it onto a serving plate. Allow the cake to sit for 1 hour, or until the top is no longer tacky. Then cover it with a cake dome or wrap it airtight. It keeps for 3 days at room temperature and for 10 days refrigerated. Freezing toughens the texture. The cake is also lovely decorated simply with a light sprinkling of cocoa or lacy drizzles of melted chocolate. Do not serve this cake with sauce as it would fall apart.