Canada Day is at our doorstep and boy, does it ever feel like it. Some years Canada Day can be a rainy bummer but this year, at least in my neck of the woods, it’s going to be an absolute stunner of a day. Sunshine, heat, and the high probability of a sunburn – just like the Canada Days of my youth. And to further my current nostalgia, I decided to whip up the perennial Canada Day favorite – Strawberry Shortcake. You got to love it when a good, much-beloved dessert is unintentionally patriotic. Of course, I couldn’t keep it entirely classic because then I wouldn’t be me. So instead I offer this Grilled Angel Food Cake with Pimm’s Macerated Berries.
In some ways I am very much a product of my era. My initial fascination with food came via pictures. I would weirdly obsess over cookbooks, and food magazines – studying them in minute detail. This habit took root in the early 2000s when I was a newly minted teenager and awkward as all heck. To put it gently, my name wasn’t on a lot of guest lists. So I guess it’s good I had hobby?
I bring up this snapshot of Susan: The Wonder Years to explain my fascination with grilled desserts and Angel Food Cake. There was a time when every food magazine flirted with grilled desserts. Grilled peaches in particular dominated. I mean, I know they existed long before 2002, but I don’t think they were ever seen with as much frequency as they were then. Ditto for toasted and grilled pound, chiffon and angel cakes. They were freakin’ everywhere. And was I mad? No, I was enthralled.
Now, during this era of extreme awkwardness, I never successfully convinced my mother to make the toasted pound cake fondue I longed for. And now that I’m an adult, I totally get it. I wouldn’t want to build a fire and thread some perfectly good pound cake onto a stick just so my 13-year-old could toast it wiener-style. She most definitely had better things to do and pound cake really doesn’t need any help in the deliciousness department anyway. But now that I’m a grown up who plays with food for a living, I can absolutely spend the time making an angel food cake from scratch and grill it to my heart’s content. Maybe it’s all that waiting that makes this moment all the sweeter.
So yeah, if this Grilled Angel Food Cake with Pimm’s Macerated Berries takes you back to a time when rom coms ruled the box office and families shared a single computer – that’s why. This is recipe development circa 2001, baby! Drink it in.
But despite, it’s rather antiquated status, this cake is so freaking good. The elves working at Martha Stewart in the early aughts really were onto something. Grilled angel food cake is pretty damn good. And as silly as it may seem to further cook something you just baked, the grilling process is really no different than toasting a hamburger bun. Think of it as a recipe flourish rather than a backbone.
Macerating berries is a simple, extremely lazy process. Simply add sugar to fruit and let it sit for a minimum of 30 minutes. Seriously, that’s really it. The magic happens when you’re not looking. I wish laundry were like that. Now, you can jazz up macerated fruit of any kind by adding a splash of liqueur, such as Pimm’s. I feel like Pimm’s compliments strawberries really well, but if you disagree with me or have a different liqueur on hand, feel free to add it or nothing. The berries will taste amazing with or without the booze.
Now, let’s talk about what I’m sure is the most daunting part of this recipe – the Angel Food Cake. If you’re anything like me, your previous encounters with this cake were courtesy of a boxed mix. But a couple of years back, I confronted my fear of the airy beast and I’ve never looked back. The most important thing to remember is everything, from the flour to sugar, should be very fine. And a non-stick tube pan is vital, so you can cool the cake completely upside down. Yup, you cool angel food cake upside down. It keeps it from collapsing in on itself. Honestly, once you wrestle the cake out of the pan, the rest of this recipe is a snap. In fact, if you wanted to, you could just buy a storebought cake. I would not judge you for even a second.
Once the cake is out of the pan and the berries are juicy, sweet and happy, all you have to do is a few finishing touches. Whip some cream on high and don’t you dare add sugar. The cake and the berries have enough sugar to go around, unsweetened whipped cream is where it’s at. Heat a clean, seasoned cast iron griddle or BBQ to medium-high and add a couple of slabs of cake. The cake will toast fairly quickly, so stay close. Then pop the cake, cream and berries in a bowl and have at ‘er.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Grilled Angel Food Cake with Pimm’s Macerated Berries. It’s a simple dessert with big flavor – perfect for your Canada Day celebration how ever small it may be this year.
Grilled Angel Food Cake with Pimm’s Macerated Berries
- Large tube pan – Make sure it is not non-stick.
- 1 3/4 cups superfine sugar
- 1 cup + 1 tbsp cake flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 12 large egg whites room temperature
- 1 ½ tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Pimm's Macerated Berries
- 1 pint strawberries hulled and halved
- ½ cup turbinado sugar
- ¼ cup Pimm's
- 1 cup heavy cream cold
- Preheat the oven to 325° F.
- Place the sugar in a large food processor and blitz until it resembles fine sand. Remove a cup of the sugar and add the flour and salt to the food processor. Pulse to combine. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set it aside with the cup of sugar.
- Place the egg whites in the mixing bowl of a large food processor fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the cream of tartar and whip the eggs on medium-high until foamy. Once the eggs are foamy, begin adding the reserved cup of sugar a tablespoon at a time. Once all the sugar has been added, stream in the lemon juice and vanilla. Whip the eggs white until semi-stiff peaks form.
- Take the mixing bowl out of the stand mixer and sift in 1/3 of the flour mixture using a fine-mesh strainer. Fold the flour mixture into the egg whites until no streaks remain. Repeat with the remaining 2/3 of the flour mixture.
- Once all of the flour mixture is integrated, pour the batter into an ungreased tube pan. Smooth the surface of the batter using a small offset spatula and place the cake in the oven. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until golden and springy to the touch.
- Take the cake out of the oven and invert the pan over a cooling wrack. Let cool for 3 hours. Once the 3 hours have elapsed, run a butter knife around the edges of the cake. Tap the bottom of the pan to loosen and release the cake. This might take some elbow grease, but don't fear, the cake will come out intact.
For the Pimm's Macerated Berries
- Place the strawberries, sugar, and Pimm's in a large bowl and toss to coat. Cover and transfer the berries to the fridge. Let sit for 1 hour.
- Heat a clean, seasoned cast iron griddle or BBQ grill over medium-high heat. Add slabs of the Angel Food Cake and toast until defined, golden grill marks appear. This should take about 2-3 minutes per side.
- Pour the cream into a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip on high until stiff peaks form. Dress the grilled cake slices with a dollop of cream and a large spoonful of berries. Serve immediately.