Position rack to bottom of oven. Preheat oven to 375°F.
Sift together flour and 1/2 cup sugar. Set aside.
In a clean, grease-free stand mixer on medium speed, whisk egg whites, Cream of Tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Slowly and gradually add remaining 1 cup sugar, about 2 – 3 tablespoons at a time, and increase speed to high. Whisk until stiff peaks form, approximately 3 minutes.
Remove bowl from mixer and in 2 – 3 stages, using a large spatula, gently fold in dry ingredients. Try to work lightly but thoroughly to mix in the flour evenly without deflating the airy mixture too much.
With a large spoon, dollop batter into the clean, ungreased, angel food cake pan, using the spoon to move the batter evenly to avoid air pockets. Gently smooth the top of the batter and place pan into oven. Bake 35 – 40 minutes, until top springs back when touched lightly.
Remove pan from oven and gently invert the pan onto its standing “feet” to cool completely. If your pan does not have feet, invert the pan over a glass bottle, placing the bottle in the center hole of the cake pan. This will keep your fluffy, airy cake from compressing on itself as it cools.
When cake is completely cooled, flip it back cake-side up and use a sharp thin knife to loosen cake from the pan. Carefully push the bottom part of the pan up to release the cake from the sides. Finally, run the knife along the bottom round section where the cake meets the pan. Invert the now freed cake onto your serving platter!
Sour Whipped Cream
Place a medium size bowl in the fridge until cold. Once cooled to fridge temperature, whisk together whipping cream, vanilla and sugar to medium-soft peaks.
Place sour cream in a large bowl and gently fold in about a third of the whipped cream, incorporating the sour cream evenly. Repeat the process twice until all whipped cream is incorporated.
Keep covered and refrigerated until ready to use.
Putting it Together
To serve, dollop the sour whipped cream generously over the top of the cake and top with toasted almond flakes, prepared strawberries and fresh tarragon. Slice into individual portions and serve immediately.
The egg whites and bowls they touch must be clean, dry and room temperature. They must not contain any yolks or grease at all. You may want to separate each egg into a separate clean bowl or glass first, adding each clean white to the larger “approved” bowl.
Use a two-piece angel food cake pan, where the bottom part is separate from the sides and do NOT grease or butter your pan. The pan must stay dry and grease-free for the cake to “climb” up the sides and stay light and fluffy as it bakes.
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