Vanilla Cloud Cake
This cake is something special, living up to its ethereal name, with a serious punch of vanilla flavor. Have an empty wine bottle or similar vessel at the ready for inverting the cake during the cooling process–you want the pan to be high above the countertop so air can circulate all around as the cake cools.
For the cake
1-1/2 cups superfine sugar, divided
3/4 cup cake flour
2 cups egg whites (about 16 large egg whites), at room temperature
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. vanilla bean paste
Tip:You can make superfine sugar by grinding granulated sugar in a food processor or clean coffee grinder
For the frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
6 oz. white chocolate, melted and cooled
2 cups heavy cream, very cold
1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
To make the cake
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Sift together half of the sugar and flour into a medium bowl.
In the bowl of a stand bowl mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on medium-high speed until mixture holds soft peaks, 2 to 3 minutes. With the mixer still running, slowly pour in the remaining sugar and beat until mixture is glossy and holds stiff peaks. Beat in vanilla bean paste.
Sift flour mixture in three additions into egg-white mixture, gently folding after each addition to incorporate. Scrape batter into a 10-inch angel food cake pan with a removable bottom and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until cake is deeply golden with a deep crack in the surface and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs (a metal tester will come out clean even if cake is not done). Invert the pan onto the bottle and let cool completely. Run a thin spatula along the sides and around the center of the cake to loosen from pan and transfer to a serving platter.
To make the frosting
To make the frosting, beat together cream cheese and white chocolate in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth and creamy. In a separate bowl, whip together cream, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean paste until stiff peaks form. Gently stir about one-third of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream.
Frost the cake generously, using the back of a tablespoon to create swoops and swirls.
Photo: Leigh Beisch