Here in Alabama, signs of spring are popping up all round. When spring peeps her pretty little head out, we know that fresh berries aren’t far behind. Grandmama’s Wind Cake is particularly good with fresh berries or on it’s own. It’s somewhat like an angel food cake but truly in a class all it’s own when it comes to taste and texture. It’s also a dream to use in place of shortcake with strawberries and sauce poured over it.
What a treasure this recipe is to me! When I was looking through Grandmama’s old cookbook, I found this handwritten recipe for Wind Cake on a piece of crumbling, yellowed paper tucked inside. Grandmama’s instructions were vague, as they were likely notes she jotted down after a friend explained the recipe to her. I was thrilled to get into the kitchen and flesh them out a bit so I could share the recipe with you in my third cookbook, Sweetness, and today on Southern Plate!
What is Wind Cake like? It’s a spongey cake, that tastes like a hybrid between an angel food cake and a made from scratch yellow cake. It’s simple, lightly sweet, and delicious. A nice coffee treat on it’s own and perfect as a showcase for fresh fruit.
Wind Cake no doubt got its name from the method of making the batter. First, you whip large amounts of air into egg whites, then do the same with yolks before adding all of the other ingredients to the whipped yolks and then folding in the whipped whites.
This recipe uses the simplest of ingredients: Eggs, All Purpose Flour, Sugar, Water, Salt, Lemon Juice (or white vinegar), and Vanilla.
My favorite thing about recipes from this era is that they didn’t call for fancy or expensive ingredients, but used things you normally had in your pantry.
Begin by separating your eggs, yolks from whites. Make sure you don’t get the tiniest speck of yolk in your white. Then, using a clean bowl and clean beaters, beat your egg whites and salt until soft peaks form, 2-3 minutes. Add lemon juice and beat again until stiff peaks form. Scrape the beaten egg whites into another bowl and set it aside.
Now place your egg yolks and water in that same bowl you just used to beat the whites in (no need to wash it). Beat these for 3-5 minutes, until the mixture reaches within 1-2 inches of the top of your bowl. I bet some of y’all didn’t know it would do that! Get ready, it’s kitchen science in action. They will become a beautiful light yellow color as we whip all of that air into them.
See how pretty? These are just egg yolks and water.
Now, while the mixer is still running on about medium speed, add sugar, flour, and vanilla. Beat until well incorporated, scraping down sides if needed.
This will cause your mixture to deflate a bit, so don’t worry. Now add in your stiff egg whites and beat on low speed until just folded in. I usually do a little of this in the mixer and then finish it by hand with a spatula but Grandmama used her mixer the whole time.
Pour this into an ungreased 12 cup bundt or tube pan. Yes, I said ungreased. The cake will cling to the sides and this helps it rise as it bakes.
Bake at 300 for one hour.
Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes before turning out. Once it cools, I run a butter knife in between the pan and the cake to make it easier to turn out. It will stick a wee bit to the pan, similar to how an angel cake does, but that is all part of the process in baking this cake. Be ready to give the pan a good knock to get the cake out.
Join me in introducing this wonderfully light nostalgic cake to a new generation!
I hope you get to make Grandmama’s Wind Cake soon. Did you grow up with this cake or is it a “new to you” recipe?
- 4 large eggs separated
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar
- 2/3 cup cold water
- 1 + 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Fresh fruit for serving
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Place egg whites and salt in large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until soft peaks form, 2-3 minutes. Add lemon juice and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Scrape mixture into another bowl and set aside.
- Place egg yolks and water in the mixing bowl you just used (no need to wash it). Beat with an electric mixer at high speed until the mixture reaches within 1-2 inches of the top of the bowl. This will take 3-5 minutes.
- With the mixer running on medium, slowly add sugar, followed by flour and vanilla, scraping down sides of bowl if needed, until the mixture is well blended. Turn the mixer to low and add the whipped egg whites and mix until just incorporated - being careful not to overmix. (I usually get this started in the mixer and then finish folding them in by hand using a spatula)
- Pour batter into UNGREASED 12 cup bundt or tube pan. Bake until golden brown and fully set in the center, about 1 hour.
- Allow to cool in the pan for about ten minutes, then go around the sides with a butter knife before turning out onto a large plate. The cake will stick to the pan (it is supposed to) so be prepared to give it a good knock.
Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.
You might also enjoy this recipe for Chantilly Sheet Cake !