Battle Pistachio: How to Finish First

I suppose all I needed was a good excuse to whip up an angel food cake, and then purchasing the specific cake pan would be an easily-made decision that in no way needed to be put off any longer.

Truth be told, I can’t seem to decide why I haven’t made an angel food cake before, but I’ve made it a habit of straying away from the recipes that say “fold the whipped egg whites into the batter”, because I’m definitely an overfolder, with the likely resulting flat cake – so maybe that’s why. You’ve never seen a souffle on here either, have you? And I have made one of those, but it sunk miserably into the ramekin, hiding like the head of a turtle in traffic.

It seemed like only yesterday when I was guzzling chorizo-infused margaritas, but apparently it’s been two months, which meant only one thing: Iron Chef time again! And as busy as we’ve been lately, I looked forward to a Saturday night of friends, food, and booze; I wasn’t disappointed.

After Brook realized that he wouldn’t be kept alive unless he sent the ingredient by noon on Wednesday (we have some fierce competitors, remember. He actually sent it closer to 12:30, so they only took an arm and pinky toe instead of his life.), we soon learned of pistachio as our ingredient. Only this time I didn’t research any options at all; I had this specific recipe sitting around and just needed that little nudge to make it. Iron Chef was it.

I’m certainly an avid fan of the pistachio – and unlike some of my buddies, I was able to procure them shelled so I didn’t spend the afternoon losing feeling in my fingertips. I also fancy citrus fruits, particularly lime, and the combo didn’t disappoint. Tangy, crunchy, and pillowy soft – this is a cake that has to be somewhat healthy, even though you might not notice if you’ve got about 13 other dishes to eat in the same night.

Battle Pistachio was chock-full of goodness: pastas, skewers, macarons (another egg white dish I’m afraid of), pork, and chocolate – variety was not absent in the slightest. But all those aside, it was the venison sliders that took the prize. My cyber-now-real-life-buddy Kenna and her husband came to their first IC with guns blazin’, and they took the prize with the sliders. And whether Michael was the source of the dish or not might be debatable, but one thing’s definitely not: he finished first, and in this scenario, that’s the goal!

The Top Three:

1. Michael’s Venison-Pistachio Sliders (top, second from left)
2. Vicki’s Pistachio Pinwheels (bottom, far left)
3. Rachel’s Pistachio Dark Chocolate Crisps (bottom, third from left)

Battle 15 – March 12th!

Lime Angel Food Cake w/ Pistachios
Adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2010; serves 12

time commitment:  1.5 hours plus cooling

printable version

1 c cake flour
1 1/2 c superfine sugar, divided
1/4 t salt
10 large egg whites, room temperature
2 t finely grated lime peel
1 t vanilla extract
1 t cream of tartar

lime syrup and lime glaze
1/2 c superfine or granulated sugar
4 T fresh lime juice, divided
1 c unsalted raw pistachios, finely chopped in processor
1/2 c powdered sugar

special equipment
10-inch-diameter angel food cake pan with 4-inch-high sides and removable bottom

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 F. Sift flour, 1/2 cup superfine sugar, and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites, lime peel, and vanilla on medium speed in large bowl until frothy. Add cream of tartar; increase speed to high and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle 1/3 of flour mixture over whites and gently fold in until incorporated. Fold in remaining flour mixture in 2 more additions just until incorporated. Transfer to ungreased 10-inch angel food cake pan with 4-inch-high sides and removable bottom (do not use nonstick pan); smooth top.

Bake cake until pale golden and tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 38 minutes. Immediately invert cake onto work surface if pan has feet, or invert center tube of pan onto neck of bottle or metal funnel and cool cake completely.

Using long thin knife, cut around cake sides and center tube to loosen. Lift out center tube with cake still attached; run knife between cake and bottom of pan to loosen. Invert cake onto rack, then turn cake over, rounded side up.

Syrup & Glaze
Combine sugar and 3 tablespoons lime juice in small saucepan; stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Brush syrup all over top and sides of cake. Immediately press pistachios onto top and sides of cake, pressing to adhere.

Stir powdered sugar with remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice in small bowl until smooth. Drizzle glaze over top of cake. Let stand until glaze sets, about 10 minutes.

Cut into slices and serve. Cake can be made 1 day in advance and stored at room temperature.

Sadly, we forgot to take the group picture while we were all still there, so we held the plate of sliders up in honor of Michael & Kenna!

5 thoughts on “Battle Pistachio: How to Finish First

  1. Man, it’s like we weren’t even there! Hopefully “our” win is still credible even though we didn’t make the group photo, haha. Thanks again, we loved the evening!

  2. Kenna – I know, so sad! we were going to photoshop you in, but i didn’t have enough time to mess with it! Hope you can make it next time!

    Caroline – good question – Kenna’s MOM killed it :). she’s hardcore!

  3. Katherine says:

    I like how in the first photo it looks like Brook’s arm is around Chris because of the blue shirts. “Pistachios: bringing people together one battle at a time.”

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