Michel Nischan and His Fried Angel Food Cake
I wouldn’t even call Michel Nischan a reformed hippie—he’s a hippie. He’s also a restaurateur, two-time James Beard Award winner and the founder, president and CEO of Wholesome Wave, the national non-profit brings fresh, locally grown food to people in urban and rural communities.
And he never went to cooking school.
I met Michel years ago at the first Southern Chefs Potluck, which is an annual fundraiser for Wholesome Wave. But it wasn’t until a few years later at another event when we realized we were long lost siblings. And like siblings sometimes do, we cooked up a crazy scheme where he invited his chef friends to appear at the Southern Chefs Series and we’d donate all the proceeds to Wholesome Wave. That was the 2013 series and we raised more than $65,000.
The last SCS of 2013 was co-hosted by Michel and I: He did dinner, I did lunch the next day and we acted as sous chef for each other. I did greens and hominy stew and hoe cakes with watercress, icicle radishes, poached eggs, bacon and warm onion vinaigrette. Michel did so many delicious dishes, but my favorite was his Naughty Angel, or fried angel food cake. He said it was something his mother, his food mentor and hero, used to make for him and his brother. It was crazy good and so, so simple.
Use the recipe below to make the cake from scratch, or buy the cake and use the second part of the recipe to pan-fry it.
Michel Nischan’s Naughty Angel Food Cake
9 cups egg whites
10.5 cups sugar
2 tablespoons Cream of Tartar
6 cups cake flour
1.5 cups almond flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2-3 tablespoons local honey, jam or caramel sauce
Mise en place all ingredients. Add two cups of the sugar to the flour and sift.
Whisk the Cream of Tartar into the remaining sugar. On high speed, whip the egg whites while gradually sprinkling in the sugar. Whip to a medium peak.
Gradually fold the dry mixture into the egg whites. Use a fold motion and not a stirring motion, as this may deflate the egg whites. Make sure there are no streaks of flour in the batter.
Divide between 4 pans and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Do not open the oven door during this time. Continue baking for an additional 35 minutes.
Once cake has cooled, slice the cake and lightly butter each side. Lay them in a non-stick skillet and pan fry over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom. Turn the slices and fry until lightly browned on the other side.
Transfer each slice to a plate and immediately drizzle with honey. If you want to use jam or caramel sauce, dump it into a hot pan off the heat, stirring it until it melts, then spoon it over the cake slices.
Next up in the Southern Chefs Series is my dear friend and food mentor, Nathalie Dupree. Join us March 23-24 and find out more details here.