Mamma Jolly's Angel Food Cake

A sweet dessert from a sweet grandmother

Mamma (pronounced "Mam-maw”) Jolly was my paternal grandmother who was one of those dear, wonderful ladies God creates just to make the world a nicer place to live.  Memories of Mamma are as sweet as her desserts. 

1½ C sifted Flour
1¾ C Sugar
14 Egg Whites
Pinch of Salt
1 t. Cream of Tartar
2 t. Vanilla
1 t. Lemon Zest* (This ingredient was not part of Mamma Jolly’s original recipe.  It was added by my sisters and me.  A west-Texas farm cook in the 1st half of the 20th century, I doubt if Mamma ever encountered a real live lemon.  At best she might have acquired a bottle of lemon extract in her later years, but seldom ever used it.)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Sift flour into mixing bowl.  In a copper or stainless steel bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks; add salt when whites are just foamy (add cream of tartar at this point if using a stainless steel bowl).  Gently fold in sugar and lemon zest with a rubber spatula; fold in flour in two batches.  When everything is completely incorporated, transfer batter to angel food cake pan and smooth the top.  Bake until cake is a pale brown color and springs back when gently touched with a finger, and when a skewer inserted in center comes out clean (about 1 hour).  Cool upside down on an RC Cola (Mamma pronounced it "Aura-See” Cola) or a 7-Up bottle.

Note:  My sister, Marsha remembers Mamma Jolly icing her angel food cake.  In Marsha’s words, "The icing was always a deep, sweet pink.  When you entered the Jolly house, you came in through the kitchen door, and the table was against the wall just to your right.  There was that cake, either upside down on a pop-bottle, or iced all pink and sweet.  Every time I bake this angel food cake, as soon as I smell its sweet aroma, I close my eyes and I can still see Mamma Jolly in her kitchen wearing her white apron, with a twinkle of love in her eyes that says, "I knew you were coming.”

I really don’t recall Mamma icing her Angel Food cake every time, and this photo sort of backs me up.  Still, because of Marsha’s sweet tooth, it’s entirely possible that sometimes Mamma added the icing just for her.  In any case, I’ve included the icing recipe below:

6 T Butter, softened
¼ C Milk
1 lb. sifted Powdered Sugar
1½ t. Vanilla
Red Food Coloring

Cream butter; gradually add about half the sugar, blending well.  Beat in 2 T milk and vanilla.  Gradually blend in remaining sugar.  Add red food coloring and enough milk to make a good consistency (use less for spreading – a little more for drizzling.)

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