Light as a feather, not too sweet, tender and moist Angel Food Cake is possible with the right ingredients and, especially, with the right technique.
If ambrosia is the food of the gods, then I guess Angel Food Cake is the food of the angels. No offense to anyone who likes it, but if you’ve ever eaten ambrosia salad you probably figure the angels got the better end of that deal.
It had been years and years since I made an Angel Food Cake. My memory of Angel Food Cake was generally of a rubbery, overly sweet and bland cake.
Well, not any more. Despite baking and taste testing this recipe 8 times, I’m not sick of this cake at all. I think the simple flavor of this cake is what I’m attracted to at this point. It’s the perfect partner for fresh, seasonal fruit, which is pretty much my favorite food.
- Egg whites
- Granulated sugar
- Cream of tartar
- Cake flour
- Vanilla extract
How to make Angel Food Cake
- Whip the egg whites at medium speed until soft peaks form.
- Slowly add the sugar, then increase the speed to medium high until full peaks form.
- The process takes about 8-10 minutes.
- Gather the whipped egg whites and the flour/sugar mixture.
- In three stages, sift the flour into the egg whites and fold until combined.
- Transfer the batter to an ungreased angel food cake pan.
- Spread the batter evenly into the pan. Bake immediately.
- Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed.
- Cool the cake upside down on a cooling rack.
How to cool Angel Food Cake:
- All recipes, including mine, direct you to bake the cake in an ungreased pan. The batter will stick to the ungreased pan while it bakes and after it comes out of the oven. Usually you don’t want a cake to stick to the pan, but it’s essential for this recipe. (Oh, and for this reason never use a non-stick pan for Angel Food Cake.)
- Since the baked cake is stuck to the bottom (and sides and middle) of the pan, you can flip the pan over onto the cooling rack as soon as it comes out of the oven. This cake has a very delicate texture when it’s warm so it needs the pan to help it stay in place until it is completely set.
- You can see the difference between the two cakes in the photo. The tall cake was completely cooled, upside down, in the pan. The shorter cake was removed from the pan after about 10 minutes, while it was still warm. Same recipe, same mixing technique, two totally different results.
The cake on the left was cooled completely, upside down, in the pan. The cake on the right was removed from the pan while still warm.
Pastry Chef tips for making a great Angel Food Cake
- Use fresh egg whites, not pasteurized. Frozen fresh whites are fine.
- Use a clean bowl and whisk, a tiny bit of grease will collapse the egg whites.
- Whip the whites on medium/medium high and don’t add the sugar until the whites reach soft peak, then add slowly.
- Use a tube pan so the cake bakes from the middle and sides.
- Don’t grease the pan and don’t use a non-stick pan.
- Cool the cake upside down.
The cakes from all my experiments. The base recipe made the best cake.
- Angel Food cake will keep, covered, at room temperature 2-3 days.
- The whole cake or individual slices can be wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 3 months.
Do you think everything is better with chocolate? Then check out my Chocolate Angel Food Cake recipe. I also have a wonderful recipes for Lemon Lavender Angel Food Cake and Strawberry Angel Food Cake.
Now that you’ve made this recipe what should you do with the extra yolks? Check out this collection of recipes that use extra yolks for some great ideas.
Did you know that you can freeze egg yolks? Yup, you can.
If you love this recipe as much as I do, please consider leaving a 5-star review:
Angel Food Cake
- 4 ½ oz cake flour (1 cup)
- 12 oz sugar (1 ½ cups, divided)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 12 large egg whites (14 oz)
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 oz water (¼ cup)
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Have an angel food pan, or tube pan, ungreased, ready for the batter.
- Into a medium bowl sift 4 ½ oz cake flour, half the sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt. Whisk the ingredients together to distribute the salt and sugar evenly. Set aside.
- In a large mixer bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk12 large egg whites on medium speed (#6-7) until frothy. Add 1 teaspoon cream of tartar and continue whipping until soft peaks form. With the mixer running, gradually add the remaining sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high (#7-8) and continue whipping until stiff peaks are formed. The total whipping time will be about 8-10 minutes.
- Add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 2 oz water and whip back to full peak.
- Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture over the meringue and use a spatula to fold in the flour until it’s almost incorporated. Sift and fold in the remaining flour mixture in two batches. Fold just until all the flour is incorporated. The batter will still be quite fluffy.
- Scoop the batter into the tube pan and spread to even layer. Bake until the cake is lightly browned and springs back when pressed or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and immediately invert the pan over a cooling rack. Leave the pan inverted until the cake is completely cool.
- Run a small spatula or paring knife around the sides of the cake to loosen and release the cake from the pan.
- The cake will keep, well-wrapped, at room temperature for several days.
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