It is thought angel food cake derives it name because it is so light the angels could eat it and still fly without being weighed down. Regardless of the origins, it is my mother’s favorite cake so I began a quest to create the perfect recipe! This recipe will produce a beautifully aerated texture by following a few simple steps.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to the terms page for more information.
This is a versatile cake for pairing with other flavors such as citrus, fruit curds or berries. Of course, a dollop of whipped cream always adds a nice touch for plating the dessert!
Steps for an easy angel food cake:
Time needed: 45 minutes.
- Prepare the pan:
Use a tube cake pan and do not flour or grease the pan. An angel food cake gets its rising power from the egg white foam. As the cake is baking the batter needs to cling to the side of the pan and grease will prevent this from occurring.
- Prepare ingredients:
Measure all ingredients and set out all equipment before beginning to make this cake. A term often used in the culinary world is 'mise en place.' The process of 'mise en place', which translates from French as 'putting in place' is a good habit to form as a baker. You won't be searching for your whisk or salt when you need to move to the next step!
- Prepare the egg whites
Egg whites may be measured using a scale or a measuring cup. Each egg white weighs approximately one ounce. This recipe calls for 12 ounces of egg whites weighed on a scale or 12 fluid ounces of egg whites or 1.5 cups of egg whites. Bring egg whites to room temperature prior to embarking on this recipe. Eggs whites will whip to a greater volume when at room temperature.
- Begin whipping the egg whites
Combine the egg whites, warm water, lemon juice (if using) and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer. A hand-held mixer may be used but the mixing process will be lengthy (12 - 15 minutes). Using the whip attachment begin whipping the egg white mixture on medium speed. The mixture will begin to turn foamy after a few minutes.
- Add sugar slowly to egg whites
Once the mixture is foamy, slowly begin adding the sugar measure #1 to the bowl while the mixer is running on medium speed. The process of slowly adding the sugar is of key importance for the structure of an angel food cake.
- Finish whipping egg whites
Turn the mixer to medium-high speed once all of the sugar is added and continue to whip the mixture until stiff peaks form.
- Fold in dry ingredients
With a spatula gently fold one-third of the dry ingredients into the egg foam. Be gentle! Over-folding will compromise the airiness of the egg foam you just worked so hard to create. Once the first addition is incorporated, repeat the process again using the another third of the dry ingredients, and finally, the last third.
- Fill cake pan
Gently pour the batter into the tube pan. Smooth the top with a spatula.
- Baking the cake
Once the cake is well risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, the cake is done.
- Cool and unmold the cake
Remove the cake from the oven and immediately flip the pan over onto a cooling rack. Leave the pan to cool upside down for one hour. After the cake is cooled, flip the pan over, push up on the removeable pan bottom and the cake should release. Run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan if the cake sticks.
A sharp, serrated knife is the best option for cutting angel food cake slices. Slowly move the knife back and forth with limited downward pressure to avoid smashing the cake slice.
Cover the cake in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.
This recipe is not gluten-free. The recipe may be easily made gluten-free by: replace the flour needed in the recipe, remove 1 tablespoon of the flour and replace with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.
Angel Food Cake
- 1.5 Cups Egg Whites Room Temperature
- ⅓ Cup Warm Water Approximately 110°
- 1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
- 200 Grams Granulated Sugar (measure #1) (1 cup)
- 150 Grams Granulated Sugar (measure #2) (¾ cup)
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 tablespoon Lemon Zest (optional) (approximately 1 lemon)
- 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice (optional)
- 120 Grams Cake Flour (1 cup)
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Combine cake flour, sugar measure #2, salt and lemon zest in a bowl. Whisk to combine.
- Add egg whites, warm water, lemon juice and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Using the whisk attachment, begin mixing on medium speed until the egg whites become foamy.
- Slowly start adding sugar measure #1 into the mixing bowl while the mixer is running. This process will take 2 - 3 minutes.
- Increase mixer speed to medium-high and continue whipping until stiff, glossy peaks are reached.
- Remove the bowl from the stand mixer.
- Add the combined dry ingredients to the stiffened egg whites in three additions, folding gently between each addition.
- Pour the cake batter in to the tube pan. Carefully smooth the top.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until well risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and immediately invert the cake pan over onto a cooling rack.
- Let cake cool upside down for 1 hour.
- Gently lift the pan off the cake. If cake is sticking to pan, run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan to release.
This was my first time making Angel Food Cake and I surprised myself at how well it turned out. Thanks for the easy instructions so an old duck like me can follow them. We love this cake!
Thank you for the review, Megane. This is one of my favorite cakes.
This really is the perfect angel food cake recipe! It's perfect for strawberry season!
Keri Bevan says
I always wanted to make angel food cake without a mix, so this recipe was really helpful Thank you for all the great tips!
Giangi Townsend says
So fluffy and light. A true delight.
Thank you for all your tips. It was my first time making it and they sure helped me along.
Angel food cake is one of those classics that will never grow old. Perfect for lots of great toppings. I love to eat it all on it's own.
This is so light and fluffy. Great tip on unmolding the cake - first time my angel food cake came out without pieces ripping off.