Angel Food Cake Day comes once a year to our house, whether I am ready for it or not.
When I was a kid, the birthday custom at my house was that the birthday recipient chose the flavour of cake. Hence, my grandfather’s cake was always lemon. Mine, however, was usually a marble cake under an Everist-sized mountain of frosting.
My husband, on the other hand, has one single tradition he keeps from his childhood: angel food birthday cakes. So, once a year I buy a box of angel food cake mix, add water, and stir. Easy peasy.
Except, in Japan, this tradition has been somewhat complicated for several reasons, not the least of which being it is possible to buy the cake mix from the internet, but only if I plan 35-40 days ahead of time to take shipping time into account.
Once I have the box in hand, the trick becomes actually baking it.
- Mix the cake batter.
- Pour some batter into two tiny bundt pans.
- Turn on the toaster oven timer for its full 15 minutes.
- When the bell dings, turn the timer on again for another 10 minutes.
- When finished, take cake out of the oven.
- Place them over two tiny vodka bottles my landlady brought for me from Mongolia. (Still haven’t drunk them after three years, but that’s good because I still need those bottles for making angel food cake!).
- Meanwhile, fill two tiny rectangular pans with more batter and get them started.
Repeat the process until I run out of cake batter. This will take two hours. It would take longer if I decided to only use bundt pans. I suppose I could go buy more pans and have four in use at the same time, but David doesn’t care what shape the cake is.
The mix produces one large, lovely, fluffy cake in a standard U.S. oven. In my toaster oven, I can make six mini cakes out of one standard U.S. cake recipe. This is fine for brownies, cookies, or your average chocolate cake. This is how I cook all my sweets in Japan, but angel food cake is special. It is fluffy. As the batter sits, it separates and becomes oily. Even stirring it doesn't seem to help. The last cakes baked are always flat and dense, compared to the first two.
Every year I think, “Next year I will just make half of the batter, bake it, and then make the rest of the batter.”
And every year I forget to do that.
This is the last year I will be baking David’s birthday cake in Japan. There are many things I will miss about Japan. This is not one of those things. I don't know where we will be in March 2016, but it better have angel food cake and a larger oven.