With a couple days off of work this past week I hopped a flight to Phoenix to spend some quality time with a wonderful friend and her mom. My friend Kay and her mother Evelyn were customers of mine at my bakery there and we grew into wonderful friends. We would go out for coffee, grab dinner, spend holidays, and even birthdays together. When my father was ill they were there with great support along with advice (Kay is a retired doctor) and when Brian lost his job Evelyn was lighting candles and praying for him to find a job quickly. My husband and I are lucky to have the two of them in our lives.
I walked off the plane to see my friend Kay’s smiling face. I was in Phoenix for 48 hours and she and her mom took me everywhere you could imagine. We popped in on old friends and they showed me some new changes in the valley. We ate, and tasted, and ate some more. We also ate a lot more desserts then I probably should have; it was definitely a vagabond adventure. As we drove across the city streets I sighed as I gazed out at the beautiful cacti and Camelback Mountain. The desert looked pretty again. The valley and the city were picturesque. It all looked beautiful, and then I realized that it was all intimate and familiar. About four years ago life here was not great, nothing was going right, and with each direction I looked I saw the desert’s brown dusty dirt, rugged cacti, with the hot sun in my eyes – it became too mundane. Driving around in my quick visit back none of that bothered me. It was just wonderful to be back in the company of an intimate city with two great friends by my side. What a difference a few years makes.
Forty-eight hours later I was boarding a plane back to Seattle. I was happy and sad at the same time. I was happy to have spent the time with my friends, happy to be going home, sad to say goodbye, looking forward to seeing my puppies, and leaving behind what was once ordinary for the new life my husband and I have started. I will always have a special place in my heart for my memories, friendships, and the places I adore in Phoenix. I must admit that I love the life we have created in Seattle but I almost had forgotten the connections we made in Phoenix.
When I arrived back in Seattle I was so happy to see my husband. I told him all the tales of my whirl wind vagabond trip. As I snuggled with my puppies, I told him all the wonderful things I tasted. I went into the kitchen a bit later to see what I should make for dinner. Seeing I had plenty of eggs, my first thought was to make an Angel Food Cake. I wanted to scent the cake with Orange and Rosewater (okay, dinner wasn’t really on my mind – dessert was). Then I realized why I was making it. I made this cake for my friend Kay’s mom on her birthday before we moved to Seattle. It was just as wonderful this time around as it was then. I think it connects the memories of the great friendships we have made and how time and space will never replace them. No matter how far away, friendships stay and fondness grows. I am so lucky to have made these friends; my heart (and belly) is full!
Angel Food Cake scented with Orange and Rosewater (serves 12)
1 cup of flour, sifted
¼ tsp of kosher salt
1 ½ cups of sugar, divided in ¾ cup
1 ½ cups of egg whites (about 10 eggs)
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 tsp of cream of tartar
Zest of 1 orange
1 tbsp of rosewater
First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl add your flour, ¾ cup of sugar and salt together and set aside.
Next, in the bowl of an electric mixer place your egg whites and whip on high speed until fluffy. Add in your vanilla and cream of tartar and beat well. Slowly add about 1 tablespoon of sugar (from your remainder ¾ cup of sugar) to your egg whites at a time while you are whisking them on high speed. Continue until you use all of your sugar and your egg whites are fluffy, double in size, and at a stiff peek.
Then, add your flour mixture in 1/3’s into your whipped egg whites. Fold it gently until all your flour mixture is completely mixed into the whites. Once combined sprinkle in the orange zest and rosewater and again, gently fold all together.
Finally, pour your batter into an Angel Food Cake pan and bake about 40 minutes until the cake is firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack upside down. Once cool loosen the cake around the edges until it easily falls out of pan. Let your cake sit at room temperature for up to 4 days wrapped in foil.
*Serving: I have served this cake with a light vanilla glaze drizzled over the top made from about 2 cups of powdered sugar, 1 tsp of vanilla extract, and enough water whisked together until smooth and pourable. I then topped it with rose petals, candies orange rind, and sugar butterflies I had made. You can also serve with fresh fruit…I like raspberries and orange segments but any combination you might like will compliment it.