Can a healthier angel food cake still have flavor? Sure.

 
By Melissa D’arabian
Associated Press
Posted3/6/2018 6:00 AM
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  • A lemon and vanilla bean angel food cake is the vision of sugar goodness with less sugar and more flavor than the classic.

    A lemon and vanilla bean angel food cake is the vision of sugar goodness with less sugar and more flavor than the classic. Melissa d'Arabian for AP

Is there anything dreamier than the tender crumb of a light-as-air angel food cake? I've loved angel food cake ever since I first tasted it as a child. It reminded me of cotton candy. No wonder: angel food cake is essentially a fluffy blend of a super-sugary meringue laced with just enough flour to give it a little structure. In other words, there was very little to get in the way of the pure-sugar flavor that my childhood palate adored!

In the 80's, low-fat became the "healthy" battle cry, and angel food cake came into vogue, with no fat weighing it down, but plenty of white processed sugar fluffing it up. In fact, fat-free-but-sugary baked treats were practically a diet fad unto themselves for well over a decade. Of course, modern science (and let's just say it: common sense) tells us that we could all benefit from cutting down on processed sugar.

So how to bring back the flavor and texture of the angel food cakes I adored as a child without throwing our blood sugar levels out of whack? Today's recipe is the solution.

First, I cut the sugar down by about 25 percent over typical recipes and it worked great. Secondly, I skipped purchasing "superfine" white sugar, and tried less-processed organic versions. I pulsed the coarser sugar in the blender myself to make it powdery-fine. (It's still sugar, but even baby steps toward healthy eating count!).

Instead of using super-starchy, lower-protein cake flour, I pulsed up regular flour in the blender to mimic the lightness. Also, I made the cake in a loaf pan, which resulted in us eating smaller slices versus tube pan versions by some visual trick of nature that I don't fully understand, but have proven multiple times with my own family.

For flavor, since I'm not a huge plain-sugar fan anymore, I added lemon zest and lovely-speckled vanilla bean. I served it with a quick lemony glaze made from Greek yogurt that my family loves, but you can consider optional, if you are an angel food cake traditionalist. Or, try a slice of this cake with a tiny square of dark, bitter chocolate for a perfect pairing.

• Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, "Supermarket Healthy." Visit her at www.melissadarabian.net.

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