I’ve had this Savannah Cream Cake recipe bookmarked since the day I received the January 2008 issue of Gourmet magazine, dedicated to all things Southern. Well this, and every other recipe on every other page. But then the magazine got tucked away into an ever-expanding collection of food magazines, never to be seen or heard from again.
While trying to find a home for my magazine collection in our new digs — besides Walt’s recommendation of the recycle bin — I found myself paging through old issues of Gourmet. A little bit of me was mourning the loss of such a beautiful and inspiring publication, a lot of me was procrastinating from the actual task at hand.
Now reunited with this delicious looking recipe, I just knew it had to be my Easter dessert. Walt and I split the holiday (AM with my parents, PM with his), so I wouldn’t be cooking my usual fare, but I doubted anyone would decline my offer to provide the sweets.
I planned ahead and made the Angel Food Cake on Friday night, with the goal to assemble the rest of the creation at my parents house on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately the baking gods had other things in mind. Not going into (most of) the whiney details, I was pretty much having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
Cocktail in hand, I prepped all of my ingredients (hooray for mise en place!) and set about making the sherry custard. Following the recipe to a tee, I brought the custard to the perfect thickness, taking extra care not to scramble the eggs. I poured the silky delight into a pyrex dish and set it in a water bath to chill to room temp. Then I whipped heavy cream into a fluffy mound and straightened up the kitchen a bit. Okay, that second part was a lie. My mom did the cleaning.
Cream whipped, I was ready to forge ahead. Unfortunately, I went to grab what was formerly known as custard to find what now resembled congealed butter. Apparently the ice bath was toooo cold. Me being me, I even went as far as folding it into the cream while praying for salvation. Nope. After I saw the look on my mom’s face, into the trash it went.
Second cocktail in hand, I tried again. With a little rearranging of steps, I was well on my way. New custard made, I was ready to pour in my second gelatin mixture, only to realize my mother had dumped it out in her cleaning madness. Gaw. Let’s try this one more time, folks!
At this point, I finally heeded my family’s advice and decided to wait until the next morning. If you ever want to start anew, I can’t think of a better day than Easter to do it. I woke up with a cake to finish, people. Feeling good and full of pancakes, I whipped and stirred and mixed my way to pure perfection. Sometimes, third time really is a charm — this Savannah Cream Cake didn’t make it through the night.
(PS – The instructions below have been modified to make your life easier.)
SAVANNAH CREAM CAKE
Source: Adapted from Elizabeth on 37th and Gourmet Magazine
FOR ANGEL FOOD CAKE:
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cake flour (not self-rising )
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup sugar, divided
6 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
FOR SHERRY CUSTARD:
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4 oz. envelope.)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, divided
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cream sherry
FOR THE FROSTING:
1 cup chilled heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
10 x 4 1/2 inch (16 cup) tube pan (preferably with a removable bottom)
9 inch springform pan
MAKE CAKE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in middle.
Sift together flour, nutmeg, and 1/4 cup sugar 3 times. Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer until frothy, then add cream of tartar and salt and continue beating until whites barely hold soft peaks. Beat in remaining 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time. Add vanilla and beat until whites just hold soft peaks.
Sift one fourth of flour mixture over whites and fold in gently but thoroughly, then sift and fold in in remaining flour mixture, all at once, in same manner. Spoon into ungreased tube pan and smooth top (pan will not be full), then rap pan on counter twice to eliminate any air bubbles.
Bake until springy to the touch and a wooden pick comes out clean, about 30 minutes. If pan has feet, invert it on a work surface; otherwise, invert it over a long necked bottle. Cool cake completely, about 30 minutes.
Run a thin knife in a sawing motion around edges of pan and tube to loosen cake. Cut cake with a serrated knife into 1-inch cubes.
MAKE SHERRY CUSTARD: Butter bottom and sides of springform pan, then line bottom with parchment paper.
Combine gelatin and 1/4 cup of water in a small bowl. Heat mixture in microwave, 10 seconds increments at a time, stirring after each increment, in order to dissolve gelatin (about 20 – 30 seconds). Set aside.
Beat cream, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons sugar in a large bowl until mixture just holds soft peaks. Chill.
Beat yolks with an electric mixer until very pale. With mixer at low speed, add sherry, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and remaining 2 tablespoons water. Cook mixture in a small heavy sauce pan over low to medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until very thick and you can see “ribbons” when you run a spoon through.
Remove from heat and whisk in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Quick chill by putting sauce pan in an ice bath and stirring for one to two minutes. Remove from ice bath and cool mixture to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Fold in sherry mixture to whipped cream mixture gently but thoroughly, then fold in cake cubes. Transfer to springform pan and smooth top. Chill, covered with plastic wrap until set (at least 4 hours).
Run a thin knife around cake and remove side of pan.
MAKE FROSTING: Beat cream with sugar using an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks. Frost cake. YIELDS: 8 – 10 slices