How to Make Angel Food Cake
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 egg white 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.
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!
Step 2- Separate the Egg Whites
Egg whites whip up quicker and are more stable when they are at room temperature. I typically pull the eggs out about 30 minutes before separating them.
Take extra care not the get any egg yolk into the egg whites or they will not whip up to stiff peaks.
Note: 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- Combine your flour with other dry ingredients
Whisk together your cake flour with half of your sugar, 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 in the bowl. Whip for about 30 seconds and then add either your lemon juice or cream of tartar to stabilize the egg whites.
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 angel food cake without it. 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!
Step 5- Slowly add in half of the 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! Add the optional lemon zest once the meringue is at medium to stiff peaks.
Step 7- Gently fold the flour/sugar mixture into the foam.
Lightly sprinkle, or sift, the flour/sugar mixture over top of the foam/meringue and gently fold it together. Until no visible dry patches are left.
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 up toward you, bringing them mixture from the bottom to the top. Turn the bowl 90 degrees and continue doing this.
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.
For notes on baking angel food cake as cupcakes or in other cake pans see the written recipe.
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 fresh strawberry sauce 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!
- 1 1/4 cups (295 ml) egg whites at room temperature (from about 9 or 10 large eggs)
- 1 1/2 cups (294 gr) granulated sugar or caster sugar (separated)
- 1 cup (112 gr) cake flour (see notes for substitution)
- 1 tsp lemon zest (optional)
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 TBSP cream of tartar (or lemon juice or white vinegar)
- For the Cake Prep: At least 30 minutes before baking, allow your eggs to come to room temperature and separate the whites from the yolks. Measure out the rest of your ingredients. 1/2 of the sugar will be going into the egg whites and 1/2 will be going into the dry ingredients so I like to measure the sugar out in two portions. Also, preheat your oven to 350 F (177 C).
- Combine Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together your cake flour with half of the sugar, and the kosher salt.
- Beat Egg Whites to Soft Peaks: Place all of the egg whites in a very clean large bowl (if there is oil present in the bowl the egg whites might not whip up) or the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a whisk attachment. Use the hand mixer or stand mixer to beat the egg whites on high speed for about 30 seconds until frothy. Add the cream of tartar (or lemon juice or vinegar) into the egg whites and continue beating on high speed for about 1 minute until the whites begin gaining volume.
- Create the Meringue: Start adding the other half of the sugar to the egg whites a spoonful at a time while beating at medium/low speed. Once all the sugar is added, you can increase the speed and whip the whites to stiff peaks. They should look glossy and stand tall. Check the progress periodically because if you whip too far the whites will look dry and crumbly. If they get to this point you will have to start over. Add the optional lemon zest once the meringue is at medium to stiff peaks.
- Fold in the Dry Ingredients: Lightly sprinkle or sift the dry ingredients over the egg whites. Using a rubber spatula, begin folding the dry ingredients into the egg whites. This should only take about 15-20 seconds and be gentle so that you do not deflate the whites (you can watch the video in the post to see the proper technique).
- Bake: Gently and evenly, pour the batter into an ungreased 9" or 10" tube pan. Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes until a tester comes out clean from the center. Do not open the oven during the first 30 minutes of baking or the cake may fall.
- Cool: Holding onto the tube part of the pan, carefully turn the pan upside down and place on a stable surface to cool. Once the cake is completely cooled, turn right side up and remove from the pan.
- Note: Like all sponge cakes, it will taste eggy if served while still warm. Allow the cake to cool completely before serving. To store, wrap the completely cooled cake well with plastic wrap and keep under refrigeration for up to 1 week. It is best eaten within the first few days.
I love to serve this cake with real whipped cream and fresh strawberry sauce.
- If you do not have cake flour you can make a substitute. Measure out 2 TBSP of cornstarch into a 1 cup measuring cup. Add enough all purpose flour to fill the cup up and level it off. Sift the flour/cornstarch mixture at least 2 times.
- To bake into cupcakes: Line 2, 12 cup muffin tins (this makes about 24 cupcakes) with cupcake liners. Fill the liners about 3/4 full with the batter. Bake at 325 F (160 C) for 18-20 minutes.
- To bake into a layer cake: Grease the bottoms and side of two 8" or 9" round cake pans and line only the bottoms with parchment paper. Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Bake at 350 F (177 C) for 18-23 minutes.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0