Light is a relative term when you’re talking about whipping up 1 ½ cups of heavy cream and embellishing the dessert with a scoop of ice cream. Be that as it may, angel food cake is made with egg whites only and no added fat, so maybe everything balances out.
This recipe uses just a little bit of vanilla bean, so it’s the perfect opportunity to recycle a pod you’ve already scraped clean. If you don’t have a piece of vanilla bean lying around, you may substitute 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Place the rhubarb and 2 cups of the strawberries in a nonreactive saucepan with 2⁄3 cup of the sugar, the orange juice, cinnamon, and vanilla bean. Simmer over medium-low heat until the rhubarb is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean. Let the fruit compote cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate until chilled completely, about 2 hours.
Shortly before serving, whip the heavy cream in a chilled bowl with chilled beaters until it thickens. Beat in the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the vanilla extract and whip until the cream is fairly stiff but still spreads slightly when spooned out.
To assemble the dessert, cut the angel food cake into 8 generous wedges. Place a slice of cake on each of 8 dessert plates. Place a scoop of ice cream on each slice and top with a large spoonful of the berry-rhubarb compote. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and the halved strawberries, arranging them cut sides up.
Pour the fruit juice into a small nonreactive saucepan and boil gently over medium-low heat until reduced to ¼ cup, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift the flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt together, and set aside.
Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl with the cream of tartar and whip until foamy. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar; continue to whip until the peaks are stiff but not dry and the tips droop slightly when the beaters are lifted.
Fold in the vanilla and concentrated fruit juice by hand. Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the whites and fold in very gently. Repeat with half of the remaining flour, then fold in the rest just until evenly blended. Scrape the batter into an ungreased 6-cup tube pan. Run a blunt knife around the batter at the edges of the pan to remove any air pockets.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and invert it onto a rack. Let cool in this position until the pan and cake are cooled completely to room temperature, about 1 hour.
To remove the cake from the pan, run a bamboo skewer around the edges of the cake, invert the pan onto a cake plate, and gently tap the cake out.