This angel food cake recipe is nothing like the store-bought ones you may have tried! So light and airy it practically melts in your mouth. If you’ve never made an angel food cake before, I have all the tips, tricks, and step by step instructions for you to make this angel food cake from scratch.
If you’re like me, then you did not grow up on homemade angel food cake. Instead you gobbled down as a kid those store-bought ones that come in those cheap metal tins. But hey as a kid, cake was cake! Topped with strawberries and whipped cream I wasn’t complaining in the slightest.
But then I tried homemade angel food cake. And oh my…what a difference. Store-bought angel food cake has gotten nothing on this angel food cake recipe. So light. So airy. I love serving with some fresh strawberries and Whipped Cream. Once you’ve mastered this recipe, you’ll never buy another angel food cake from the store again.
What Is Angel Food Cake?
Angel food cake is a delicate light-as-air sponge cake that is actually fat free because it’s made with whipped egg whites, and contains no butter or other fats, like oil. It’s baked in a special tube pan, and has a light golden brown exterior and pure white interior.
And it’s called angel food cake, because it’s “so light and airy” an angel could eat and still fly and not be weighed down. Of course these angels must not have eaten as much as I did, just saying.
Angel Food Cake Ingredients
The best part about angel food cake is that it requires only six ingredients! That’s it! Just six.
- Cake Flour – This is a MUST. To achieve it’s light as air texture, you cannot use regular all-purpose flour. I haven’t tried it with my Cake Flour so I can’t say for sure if it would work. Personally I would just get the store-bought flour to be safe.
- Granulated (or Superfine sugar) – Superfine sugar is preferred as it dissolves easily into the meringue mixture. But I’ve also made this with granulated sugar and it’s worked fine. But you can easily turn your granulated sugar into superfine sugar by grinding it down in your food processor.
- Salt – Just need a little to help balance out the sweetness. I add this after I’ve sifted my sugar and flour together.
- Egg whites – Angel food cake does require quite a bit of egg whites. About 9-10. I say 9 to 10, as it’s best to weigh our your egg since they aren’t all the same. You need 1 1/4 cups (or 300 ml), and that’s about 9 to 10 depending. Make sure there’s no yolk present in your egg whites, which can prohibit them whipping up. And you want them at room temperature so they whip to full volume.
- Cream Of Tartar – This a dry acid, that will help to stabilize your egg whites as you whip them. If you don’t have any you can always replace with equal parts lemon juice or white vinegar.
- Vanilla extract – This is the only flavoring the cake will have so it’s best to use the BEST pure quality vanilla extract you can find.
Seperating your egg whites
For angel food cake you will need about 9 or 10 large egg whites. It can vary sometimes on the amount based on the eggs. And you do want them to be room temperature so they whip up to their maximum volume.
I have tried ALL the ways I think to separate egg whites. You can check out my post, How To Separate Eggs (6 ways), but here a few tips on separating your egg whites:
- Separate your eggs in two small bowls, then add to your large stand mixer bowl. This way if you do get egg yolk in one egg white, your whole batch of egg whites aren’t ruined.
- Cold eggs separate easier. Separate the when cold then let them sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
- Separate in your hands. To separate your eggs, I find separating them in my hands, and letting the egg whites drip through my fingers the easiest way to separate them. You can toss the yolk back and forth between the two shell halves but I find that I tend to break a yolk that way. And I’ve used an egg seperator before with OK success, but still can sometimes break a yolk with it.
Angel Food Pan
To make an angel food you need to bake it in a 10-inch aluminum fluted tube pan. (<– this is the one I own and love). Some tube pans have feet, so when you go to cool the cake upside down it can rest on the feet. I do NOT recommend using a bundt pan, because of the intricate design it can be very difficult to remove the cake once it’s cooled.
Do NOT grease your pan! If you grease the cake pan, then the batter would have nothing to cling to as it rises, and would fall down the sides of the pan.
How To Make Homemade Angel Food Cake
Sift flour and half of your sugar. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour and half of the sugar (¾ cup, 150 g). Add the salt and whisk to combine.
Heather’s Baking Tip
Measure your flour correctly! Too much flour could result in a heavy, dense, dry cake. Measuring by weight and using a kitchen scale is best for accuracy. If measuring by volume, then be sure to spoon the flour into your cup and level it off. Do not scoop directly from the bag or pack it down into the cup which could result in too much flour.
Whip egg whites. In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment (or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer) beat the egg whites on medium speed, until frothy.
Heather’s Baking Tip
You want to make sure your bowl is completely clean and has no fat or grease in it, which could prevent the egg whites from whipping properly. I like to wash my bowl to start, then I wipe it down with a bit of lemon juice or white vinegar to remove any possible leftover residue.
. Add the cream of tartar. Continue beating on medium until the egg whites form soft peaks.
Add sugar slowly. Add the remaining sugar, one tablespoon at a time, continuing to beat at medium speed. Do this slowly so the egg whites do not deflate.
Add vanilla. Once all the sugar has been added, add in the vanilla extract.
Whip to stiff peaks. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip to stiff peaks. The egg white meringue mixture should be glassy and the peaks should stand tall on their own when the beaters are removed.
Add dry ingredients gradually. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the meringue mixture. Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites. Do this gently so you don’t deflate the egg whites.
Heather’s Baking Tip
You want to fold in your dry ingredients gently, and gradually so you don’t deflate the meringue mixture. I sprinkle on about 1/3 cup of the dry mixture at a time and then with a spatula fold it in carefully. To fold, I use a spatula and cut down through the middle, and then bring swoop the spatula up along the edge, folding the mixture over on itself.
Bake. Gently spoon the batter into the ungreased tube pan. Use a knife or skewer, and run it through the batter to break up any large air bubbles. Bake at 350oF (177oC) for 30-35 minutes until the top of the cake is golden brown and the top springs back to the touch. While the cake is baking, do NOT open then oven door or the cake may fall.
Cool upside down. Remove the cake from the oven, and carefully invert the pan and set it upside down. Allow it to cool upside down for 1 ½ hours. Once the cake has cooled, turn the pan right side up and remove it from the pan by running a butter knife around the sides and bottom.
Heather’s Baking Tip
My tube pan has “little feet” that it can rest on, but if yours doesn’t then place the pan over a bottle place through the center of the pan.
Angel food cake tends to be lower on the fat and calorie side, since it’s made with only egg whites and contains no fat. However, I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s “healthy”, especially if you’re serving with a big old dollop of whipped cream like I do!
I used only vanilla extract in my angel food cake, so it has a subtle vanilla flavor and it not overly sweet. But the meringue mixture baked up into this lovely cake, is sort of like eating a big marshmallow cloud in a light as air cake form.
Trust me I’ve had my angel food cake fails and flops. Cakes that shrunk in the middle, fell out of the pan after it is baked (and yes it was ungreased!) and it really comes down to underwhipping the egg whites I believe. Make sure to beat your egg whites to stiff peak and check with a skewer to ensure the cake is fully baked before removing it from the oven.
Because of its delicate egg white only nature, the cake hasn’t truly set up when it’s come out of the oven. And if you don’t cool it upside down, the cake will fall. To fight gravity, and ensure our cake doesn’t collapse you want to cool it upside down.
Storing Your Angel Food Cake
- Make Ahead: This cake can be made one day ahead of time. After it’s cooled, wrap well, and store at room temperature overnight.
- Storing: You can also store any leftovers, in the fridge, covered, for up to 5 days.
- Freezing: You can freeze this cake for up to 3 months. Wrap it well. Then when ready to enjoy. let it thaw overnight in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before serving.
More Recipes To Try
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Angel Food cake
- 1 ½ cups (300 g) superfine sugar (*see note) divided
- 1 cup (115 g) cake flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ cup (300 ml) large egg whites, about 9 to 10
- 1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar lemon juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- Prepare oven. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C) and position a rack in the center of your oven. For angel food cake, you will use a tube pan, but you do not want to grease it.
- Sift dry ingredients. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour and half of the sugar (¾ cup, 150 g). Add the salt and whisk to combine.
- Whip egg whites. In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment (or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer) beat the egg whites on medium speed, until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating on medium until the egg whites form soft peaks.
- Add sugar. Add the remaining sugar, one tablespoon at a time, continuing to beat at medium speed. Do this slowly so the egg whites do not deflate.
- Add vanilla. Once all the sugar has been added, add in the vanilla extract.
- Whip to stiff peaks. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip to stiff peaks. The egg white meringue mixture should be glassy and the peaks should stand tall on their own when the beaters are removed.
- Fold in dry ingredients. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the meringue mixture. Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites. Do this gently so you don’t deflate the egg whites.
- Bake. Gently spoon the batter into the tube pan. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for 30-35 minutes until the top of the cake is golden brown and the top springs back to the touch. While the cake is baking, do NOT open then oven door or the cake may fall.
- Cool upside down. Remove the cake from the oven, and carefully invert the pan and set it upside down. My tube pan has “little feet” that it can rest on, if yours doesn’t then place the pan over a bottle place through the center of the pan. Allow it to cool upside down for 1 ½ hours. Once the cake has cooled, turn the pan right side up and remove it from the pan by running a butter knife around the sides and bottom.
- Storage: You can wrap any leftovers and keep stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Make ahead: You can make this cake up to one day in advance. Wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature overnight.
- Freezing: You can freeze any leftover cake for up to 3 months. Wrap well and then when ready to serve, thaw overnight in the fridge and bring to room temperature before eating.
- Serving: Make sure to let the cake cool completely before serving. It can taste eggy while still warm.
- Superfine sugar: This type of sugar dissolves easily into the meringue. If you can’t find superfine sugar, I’ve used granulated sugar and still had success. Or you can place your sugar into your food processor and pulse until it’s finer in texture.
- Cream Of Tartar: If you don’t have cream of tartar you can replace it with lemon juice instead.
- Egg whites: I recommend using fresh egg whites, and NOT egg whites from a carton or frozen egg whites. You want to make sure they are room temperature before you begin. Separate the egg whites while cold (it’s easier to separate), and then bring to room temperature before whipping. Make sure there is no egg yolk present, which can prevent the meringue from whipping up properly.
- Pan: If you don’t have an angel food tube pan, you can bake this recipe into a cake layer or into cupcakes. If baking into a layer cake, use either three 8-inch or two 9-inch round cake pans, or use two 12-well cupcake pans and bake for 22 minutes.
- Adapted from Baker Bettie’s Better Baking book
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