This moist light sponge cake has a strong
orange flavor. It is my adaptation of a sea level
recipe from Mildred O. Knopf's "The Perfect
Hostess Cookbook" (Knopf, 1950). I tinkered
several years to “altitude” the recipe
so it would work at my mountain home in Montana
(elevation 3,250 feet). I adjusted ingredients and
techniques, but my most important change, guaranteeing
success, was to put the cake batter into a cold
oven and then turning it on. The cake rises perfectly
as the oven heats. Be sure to use a 10 x 4-inch
aluminum angel-food cake tube pan with a removable
bottom--not a Teflon-lined pan.
Finely grated zest of 1 large orange
3 tablespoons strained fresh orange juice
9 extra-large egg whites (1 1/4 to 1 1/3 cups),
at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
7 or 8 extra-large egg yolks, about 1/2 cup (see
1 teaspoon pure orange extract
1 1/2 cups sifted bleached cake flour
1. Grate the orange zest; squeeze and strain
the juice, and reserve both.
2. Beat the whites and salt together until
foamy. Strain the cream of tartar into the whites
and continue beating until the whites form quivering,
slightly curling, shiny, moist peaks when the beater
is lifted. (Above 7,000 feet, beat whites to soft
peaks, not stiff.)
3. In a 1-quart saucepan, bring the sugar
and water to the boil, stirring occasionally. Stop
stirring, insert a candy thermometer, and continue
cooking--without stirring--until the temperature
is between 234° and 238°F (soft ball stage).
This will take about 4 minutes.
4. Start beating the whites on medium-low
and slowly add the syrup in a thin stream to the
whites. Do not add the syrup too quickly or you
will cook the whites. Pour only what will come out
of the pan without scraping the pan. Increase the
speed to medium and continue beating until the whites
form moist, peaks that curl slightly at their tips.
Do not beat until the whites form absolutely straight,
stiff peaks. (Above 7,000 feet, beat whites just
to soft slightly droopy peaks.)
5. Beat the egg yolks on high speed until
they are very thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Add
the orange zest, orange juice, and orange extract.
Beat again at high speed for 1 to 2 minutes.
6. Sift enough cake flour onto a sheet
of wax paper to measure 1 1/2 cups when spooned
into dry measuring cups to overflowing and leveled
with a metal spatula. Resift the flour 4 times.
7. Pour the egg yolk mixture onto the whites
and fold them together gently with a large rubber
spatula. Sift about 1/4 of the flour onto the batter
and fold it in gently. Repeat with the remaining
8. Pour the batter into the un-greased
cake pan. Run a clean knife in concentric circles
all through the batter to remove any large air pockets,
then smooth top of batter.
9. Adjust oven rack to the lower third
position, and place the pan in the cold oven. Turn
the oven on to 325°F. Bake about 55 minutes,
until top of cake is a deep golden brown color,
and it springs back when lightly pressed near the
Turn cake upside down and let it "hang"
by its central tube over a narrow-necked wine bottle
until completely cool, about 3 hours. Remove from
the pan by running a sharp thin-bladed knife all
around the side of the cake. Lift the cake out of
the pan, and dislodge the cake with the knife from
the bottom of the pan. Carefully invert the cake
onto a wire rack. Cover with another rack and invert
again so that the cake is right side up.