Happy Birthday Cakes: Lemon Verbena Angel Food Cake

| October/November 1998

Serves 10 to 12

This light yet toothsome cake derives its subtle lemon flavor from lemon verbena or lemon balm along with lemon juice and zest. The lemon glaze provides a rousing burst of tart-sweet taste.

• 1 1/4 cups cake flour
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 1 1/2 cups (12 to 14 extra-large) egg whites
• 1 1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
• Zest of 1 lemon, grated
• 1/3 cup packed lemon verbena or lemon balm leaves, finely minced

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Sift the flour with 3/4 cup of the sugar twice and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy. Sprinkle the cream of tartar and salt over the whites and beat until soft peaks form. Add the remaining sugar to the egg whites 2 tablespoons at a time, beating after each addition just enough to blend. Fold in the vanilla, lemon juice, and zest.

3. Fold the flour-sugar mixture into the beaten egg whites 1/4 cup at a time. Fold in the lemon verbena or lemon balm just to blend. Turn the batter gent­ly into a 10-inch ungreased tube pan with a removable bottom. Bake in the lower third of the oven 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for 30 minutes longer, or until the cake is very high and golden brown on top. If the top of the cake browns too fast ­toward the end of baking, cover it loosely with foil.

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