Learn how to make angel food cake with this simple step-by-step tutorial. Angel food cake is truly a very easy cake to make and turns out incredibly light, fluffy and moist. This is the best angel food cake recipe and will walk you through how to make it perfectly.
Angel Food Cake Overview
- Difficulty: Intermediate
- Skills Used: Making a Simple Meringue (French Meringue)
Angel food cake is by far one of my favorite cakes if it is made well. A well made angel food cake is the most light and tender cake around, and bonus, it is naturally really low in fat! If you aren’t familiar with the makeup of angel food cake, it by definition has no added fat. No egg yolks, no butter, no oil. The sugar in the cake has a huge responsibility for how moist, tender, and fluffy this cake turns out! (Read more about sugar’s role in baking.)
I love how incredibly easy an angel food cake is to make. Essentially, you just make a simple foam, using the same technique as french meringue, and fold flour into it and bake! The egg white foam in this cake is what makes the cake rise. There is no baking powder or baking soda in this cake. The meringue and shape of the pan do all the work! This also means this cake calls for very few ingredients and is ready to go in the pan and bake very quickly.
If you have never made a meringue it would be worth checking out my post on French Meringue 101. We are using this technique as the basis of the foam for this recipe. I will walk you through the simple steps!
How to Make an Easy Angel Food Cake
Step 1- Measure out all of your ingredients.
This recipe calls for very few ingredients and it comes together very quickly. Make sure you have all of your ingredients measured and ready to go before starting to mix. Because this cake is extremely light and tender it does call for the use of cake flour, which has a very low protein content. All-purpose flour can be substituted, but the cake will not be quite as light. Because cake flour is so light, you want to make really sure that you measure correctly if you are measuring by volume, however weight measurement is always preferred!
Superfine sugar is also used in this recipe. Superfine sugar can very easily be made at home with regular granulated sugar. (*keep reading for instructions)
Step 2- Let the egg whites come to room temperature.
Egg whites whip up quicker and are more stable when they are at room temperature, however it is easier to separate the white from the yolk while the eggs are still cold. So I always separate them straight from the refrigerator and then let them come to room temp before whipping. I have also used packaged liquid egg whites to make this foam and they also worked, however because they are pasteurized, I had to beat for much much longer.
Step 3- Make your superfine sugar.
If you live somewhere where it is easy to find superfine sugar or castor sugar, then you will use that for this recipe. However, this is difficult to find in many places.
To make your own superfine sugar, measure out your sugar an place it in a food processor (or I use my Ninja blender). Process the sugar for about 2 minutes to create a superfine sugar/caster sugar substitute.
Step 4- Combine your flour with other dry ingredients
Whisk together your cake flour with half of your superfine sugar, lemon zest, and kosher salt. You don’t need to be completely exact with dividing your sugar in half, but about half of it is going to go into the meringue and half will go in with the flour.
Step 4- Begin by whipping the egg whites and cream of tartar (or lemon juice)
Make sure that the bowl you are using is clean and free from oil and place just the egg whites and the cream of tartar in the bowl. You want to begin by whipping on a low speed which will allow the proteins to unravel and begin forming their network to trap the air bubbles. The cream of tartar is acidic and will drop the ph level creating more stability in the foam. Once the egg whites are at soft peaks you can move on to the next step.
You can find cream of tartar easily in the spice aisle of the grocery store. IF you don’t have/don’t want to get cream of tartar, you CAN make an angel food cake without cream of tartar. Just swap it out for lemon juice or white vinegar. I add lemon zest to this cake anyway so the lemon juice will just give it a little more lemon flavor which is fine by me! I have found that there is a very slight difference in the fluffiness if you do swap it, but it isn’t substantial.
Step 5- Slowly add in half of the superfine sugar
Once your whites have reached soft peaks, continue mixing on low speed while slowly adding in the other half of the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time.
Step 6- Beat to stiff peaks
Watch the egg whites carefully and stop beating once you reach stiff peaks. The whites will look glossy and the whites should stand up straight with just a slight bend on the end. If you take the whites too far the gloss will go away and they will start to break down, look dry, and begin separating. If you go this far you need to stop and start over!
Step 7- Gently fold the flour/sugar mixture into the foam.
Lightly sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the flour/sugar mixture over top of the foam/meringue and gently fold it together. The proper method for folding is this- Starting on the top, cut down from the center of the mixture to the bottom of the bowl with the spatula, then draw the spatula quickly toward you against the edge of the bowl, and up to the left and out. Do this just about 2 or 3 times then lightly sprinkle more of the flour over the meringue. You want to fold as little as possible to get the dry ingredients incorporated but still keep as much air in the batter as possible.
Step 8- Pan and bake.
For the absolute best results for this cake, you want to use an ungreased Tube Cake Pan. A tube pan is a round pan with a removable bottom and a straight tube up the center. It is not the same as a bundt pan. Because there is no baking soda or baking powder in this recipe, the cake climbs along the walls of the pan to get its rise and light and airy texture. This is why it is also important not to grease the pan because the cake will not be able to grip the sides as well. I have used both non-stick and regular tube pans with equal results as to how well the cake rises. I also know that many have baked angel food cakes in loaf pans with success, but I cannot speak to that from experience.
Step 9- Cool upside down.
Once the cake is finished baking, you want to let it cool in the pan upside down. Hold onto the tube part of the pan and gently invert it and set it somewhere stable while it cools. This ensures that the cake will not fall while cooling.
Most commonly, angel food cake is served with fresh fruit and lightly sweetened whipped cream. I actually love it completely naked. It is so tender and not dry in the slightest. For this cake, I decided to make a blueberry and fresh ginger sauce to go over top and it was really delicious! Definitely a welcome taste of something light and bright during this relentless cold we have been having!
For the Cake
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0