When it gets close to birthday season (mine of course—pssst, it's March) people ask what my preferred birthday cake is. In the last few years it's been yellow cake with dark chocolate frosting (simple and a-mazing) which I like to savor over days in the fridge, nibbling from with a fork, a glass of iced milk in hand. But when I was younger and my mother made a non-chocolate dessert for one of her kids' birthdays, it was angel food cake.
Softy, spongey angel food topped with mondo globs of whipped cream and fresh berries. It was then pierced with tall sparkling candles and served, a heavenly white dream dripping with bright red, blue, and purple juices. I don't know anyone who doesn't like angel food cake but even if you were a hater, the aesthetics alone make anyone's brain go trigger-crazy with the glands in your mouth. It's just so scrumptulescent.
Of course, it's not my birthday or even near it, but someone adorable gave me a Christmas present (off my list!) that I've been eager to attack since returning home from Scotland. I tend to go mute behind any book or magazine for hours but put this monster in front of me and I'll hole up and disappear for weeks. Even the introduction had me so intrigued that I read the entire thing, leaving me no time that day to actually try a recipe. When I did, I chose Craig Claiborne's AFC because 1) it seemed light and low in calories—perfect for my holiday "detox", 2) I had fresh strawberries on hand, and 3) because Mr. Claiborne's foreword declared it his "absolute favorite dessert" and you don't question a NY Times dessert editor.
I learned a whole lot about myself and my so-called loyalty to chocolate over the 3-4 days that I repeatedly crept into the kitchen to slice myself a piece for dessert (so long, detox). For the first night, I made a quick raspberry and cream topping, and for the rest, it was all about sliced strawberries by their lonesome. When it comes to toppings (any and all), the chunkier and more substantial, the better. I'm not sure I'd agree that it was my absolute favorite but for a light and fruity dessert, it's a classic.