Ryan Thomas is a university graduate who enjoys cooking recipes from a wide variety of culinary traditions.
A couple of days ago, I bought a jar of mincemeat at the grocery store. Mincemeat was always something of a mystery for me. I have a vague recollection from childhood of reading the book The Golden Compass, in which the main character buys mincemeat pies. I had assumed that they were, well, actually meat!
It wasn't until recently that I realized that mincemeat is in fact a dessert filling—and it wasn't until a day or two ago that I actually tried it. It has a rich, deep, intensely cinnamon flavor mixed with spices. There are strong notes of raisins and fruit pervading it, a wild medley of flavors.
Trying to figure out what to do with it was a hard question. Of course I could simply make a traditional mincemeat pie, and perhaps I will one day, but I always enjoy the challenge of creating new and different recipes. Thus my thoughts were drawn towards another project, in my eternal obsession with angel food cakes.
Angel food cakes are an elegant answer to the problem of leftover egg whites. Many recipes call for egg yolks—like hollandaise sauce, ice cream, and custard—but then you are left with many unused egg whites. Some people might just throw them away, but I feel somewhat guilty about doing this. Thus I have a tradition of collecting egg whites in a jar in the refrigerator until I have enough for an angel food cake.
The angel food cake I'm showing you here is primarily a traditional one, although I did add some raisins and mincemeat to the batter. Generally, though, I wanted to keep the cake as simple as possible.
Once the cake came out of the oven, and once it was mostly painlessly extracted from the Bundt pan, I sliced it into three horizontal layers and spread mincemeat between each layer. For the final touch, I mixed Smucker's caramel syrup with Grand Marnier liqueur to make a glaze for the top, and then I lightly dusted the final confection with powdered sugar.
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I thought that it all turned out exceptionally well. I tasted sweet notes of orange, rich fruitiness and spices of mincemeat, and the light, fluffy texture of the cake itself. The components balanced each other and produced a beautiful and tasty dessert.
My mother was a bit disappointed though because the mincemeat I used was distinctly different than the type she had tried decades ago when she visited England as an 18-year-old. She had been traveling across Europe and had tried her friend's aunt's recipe.
Perhaps one day I will have to try to track down my mother's friend's aunt's recipe to see how it compares. Until then, why don't you try this delicious layered angel food cake recipe?
This recipe is entirely my own.
For the topping:
- 1/4 cup Grand Marnier liqueur
- 1/3 cup Smucker's caramel syrup (or any brand)
- dusting of powdered sugar
For the filling:
- 1 cup mincemeat
For the cake:
- 12 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1/4 cup mincemeat
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup raisins
- The first step is making the cake. Beat the egg whites with the salt, first with 1/3 teaspoon, then adding the rest intermittently as the egg whites begin to stiffen and ultimately form soft peaks.
- Once the soft peaks are formed, add in the cream of tartar, the vanilla extract, and the powdered sugar. Continue to beat more until stiff peaks are formed.
- Sift in and then fold the cake flour, the mincemeat, and the raisins, until it is a homogenous mixture, light and fluffy. Pour this into a greased Bundt pan, and then put into a preheated oven for 50 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Once it is done cooking and has been removed from the oven, allow it to cool upside down, then gently remove from the Bundt pan. With a long knife, cut around it the long way, horizontally, to separate it into three vertical layers - first cutting near the top, then lower down, and laying each one out on the counter or another plate.
- Spread around half a cup of the mincemeat on the first layer, then put the second layer back on, spread the other half on this, and then put the final top layer on. Feel free to adjust the mincemeat quantity: I find it to be rather strong and so you might want less.
- Mix together the caramel sauce and the Grand Marnier until it is an even, homogenous mixture, liquid enough to pour over the top easily. Do this and drizzle it over, so that it soaks in, and then dust it with powdered sugar. Serve whenever desired.