Angel Food Cake

My favorite recipe on the blog! This Angel Food Cake recipe uses all-purpose flour (but does includes tips to use cake flour, if you choose). I’m walking you through all the tips and tricks and even include a how-to video so yours comes out perfectly every time!

Angel Food Cake

The sweet, snow-white nemesis to my Devil’s food cake, this meringue-based beauty of an angel food cake is everything that dark and decadent cake isn’t. It’s light, fluffy, so airy and delicately vanilla flavored (with a hint of almond!).

It’s also my favorite recipe on the blog, and while it does require a bit of technique, I’m confident you can tackle this one. Once you do, you’ll never go back to store-bought or the kind that comes from a box!

Today I’m walking you through all the steps and spilling all my tips and secrets. I’ve also included a how-to video in the recipe card. Let’s get to it (and make sure you have some homemade whipped cream and strawberries at the ready, they pair perfectly with angel food cake!)!

What You Need (and Why!)

The ingredients used are each important in their own way to give the cake structure and perfect flavor.

  • Egg Whites. This recipe uses a lot of egg whites (approximately 10-12). Room temperature egg whites are easier to whip to the stiff peaks you need when making the delicate batter. Hint: To quickly bring eggs to room temperature, set them in a bowl of warm (not hot) water for 15-20 minutes. Dry them thoroughly before cracking.
  • Cream Of Tartar. This is an acidic powder that helps to stabilize the structure of the meringue. Cream of tartar can typically be found in the spice section of your grocery store. Some people use a bit of lemon or lime juice or white vinegar to help stabilize the egg whites instead, but I recommend cream of tartar for best results.
  • Flour. Growing up we never had cake flour in my house and so we were forced to improvise. My mom made minor tweaks so that this recipe can be made perfectly using standard all-purpose flour, but I include notes in the recipe on how to make it with cake flour.
  • Salt. There’s very little salt in this recipe, but it plays an important role. It helps to bring out the other flavors of the cake and balances the sweetness without making the cake taste salty.
  • Granulated Sugar. This is gradually whipped into the egg whites to develop and stabilize the meringue, then powdered sugar (which does not need to be whipped/beaten to be dissolved) is used for the remainder of the sweetness factor.
  • Powdered Sugar. Powdered sugar (AKA “confectioner’s sugar”) has cornstarch which helps to further stabilize the cake
  • Vanilla & Almond Extracts. Vanilla extract is a must for this cake. It provides a subtle depth of flavor for this vanilla & sugar cake. Almond extract is optional and adds a slight brightness to the taste, but it’s not required.
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Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!

How to Make Angel Food Cake

  1. In a clean bowl free of grease or moisture combine the egg whites, vanilla and almond extract, cream of tartar, and salt. Mix until combined.
  2. Turn the mixer to high speed and add the granulated sugar one tablespoon at a time, waiting approximately 15 seconds between each addition. This allows the sugar to dissolve, which is important for an angel food cake with a fluffy, airy texture that rises properly and doesn’t collapse.
  3. Whip all the way to stiff peaks (a process you may remember from my meringue cookies or funfetti cake)! This means that if you dip a knife or spatula (or even your beater) into the mixture, when you remove the utensil the peaks that form hold their shape firmly without the peak folding or receding back into the mixture. The peak must be very firm without a hint of drooping. The mixture will have greatly increased in volume and be extremely thick, sticky, and fluffy. I also feel that it tends to begin to appear slightly less glossy and more matte when the eggs are fully whipped, though the meringue has not totally lost its sheen.
  4. Using a spatula, very gently fold the egg white mixture with the powdered sugar and flour mixture. The mixture should be thoroughly combined, but don’t over-mix or your cake may not rise properly.
  1. Pour (or rather spread, it will be a stiff and sticky batter) the batter into a clean, dry, grease-free tube pan (do not grease it!). Make sure it is evenly distributed, and use a spatula or butter knife to cut through the mixture to eliminate any air bubbles. Bake!
  2. The cake is finished baking when it springs back if the surface is lightly touched and when any cracks on the surface appear dry and not wet.
  3. Immediately invert the cake onto a bottle or canand allow to cool completely.
  4. Gently run a knife along the edge of the pan to loosen the cake and invert onto serving platter. If your cake pan has a removable bottom you will loosen the cake then lift it from the tube pan and then invert.
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Tips For a Perfect Angel Food Cake

  • A clean and dry bowl is critical. Do not get any yolk into your egg white and make sure to crack into a completely grease and moisture-free bowl. Even the tiniest bit of yolk or grease can keep your eggs from whipping correctly… that’s a lot of eggs to waste!
  • You must beat your egg whites to stiff peaks. While this is thoroughly described above and in the recipe, if you are a visual learner it would likely be helpful for you to watch how I do this in my video in the recipe card. This is where you are most likely to run into a problem, as many people whip their eggs but not truly all the way to fluffy, stiff peaks.
  • The egg whites will increase in volume an incredible amount! Once your egg whites reach stiff peaks, they’ll likely fill up your whole mixing bowl: as you can see in the photo above the egg whites fill about ¾ of my 5.5qt KitchenAid mixer bowl.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Let’s bake together! Make sure to check out the how-to VIDEO in the recipe card!

This post was originally published 3/30/16

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