Confident home cooking
angelcake_feature
Desserts, Vegetarian

Traditional Angel Food Cake

by Nick

Last weekend Betsy and I celebrated our two year anniversary.  Instead of going out to eat or something, we just cooked a fabulous feast at home.

I’m not planning on posting on the meal itself.  I didn’t take photos of it really because I just wanted to relax and enjoy it.

I did photograph the dessert though which turned out better than I thought it was going to honestly.

One of Betsy’s favorite desserts is angel food cake and I’ve always been a bit scared to try to make it from scratch.  It seemed almost impossible to get the cake super-light and fluffy.

I wasn’t sure that I would have the skills for it.

Turns out to be pretty straightforward though and something that I think almost anyone could make assuming that they have access to a few pieces of equipment and some patience.

Yield
Serves 10-12.
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe Angel Food Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 12 egg whites, room temp
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • Simple Strawberry Topping:
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, halved or quartered
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Helpful Equipment

Annoying Steps

There are two steps that I consider annoying in this recipe.  First, you’re supposed to grind up the sugar in a food processor to make it a super-fine texture.  I did this and I’m not really sure it’s necessary.  I processed my sugar for a few minutes and it didn’t seem to change the texture all that much.

I would say do it though if you have access to a food processor.  If you don’t, I think you would be okay skipping this step.

sugar

Ground sugar?

The second step that is sort of annoying is to take half of the super-fine sugar and sift it with the cake flour and salt.

I didn’t do this just because my strainer that I use to sift broke.  My final cake came out fine without sifting the flour, but it did make one later step (folding the flour into the batter) a lot harder I think.

I would do it if you can.

Egg Whites

You’ll need a full dozen eggs for this recipe.

And just the whites.

I’m not really sure what you could do with 12 egg yolks that you’ll have leftover.  You could make a gallon of homemade mayo or maybe you are interested in an all-yolk omelet?

In any event, it’s very important to separate one egg at a time and be careful to use a small bowl to catch the white and then add it to your larger bowl with the other whites.  If you screw up and get yolk in with the whites, you’ll have to start over!

One drop of yolk and your whites won’t whip correctly.

separating eggs

Separation!

Assuming you are able to get all your egg whites separated, let them come to room temperature for about 30 minutes and then add them to a stand mixer or just a large bowl.

Start mixing them on medium.  It’ll take a few minutes until they get to the right consistency.

whites

Just the whites!

Besides the egg whites, you’ll want to add the other half of your super-fine sugar to the mixing bowl along with some cream of tartar and almond extract.  You could use any flavored extract that you want, but I like almond a lot.

The cream of tartar will help stabilize the egg whites and give them some extra volume.

flavors

Flavor and texture.

Once all of this stuff is added in, just whip the egg whites like crazy until they hold medium peaks.  That means if you pull your whisk out, a small mound of egg white should stick on the surface.

These are about medium peaks.

peaks

Nice peaks.

The Flour

The most important part of bringing this batter together is how you incorporate the flour into the egg whites.

You have to use cake flour.  No other flour will be fine enough.

cake

Have to use cake flour.

Once you have your flour sifted with the salt and sugar, take about 1/3 of the flour and dust it lightly on the surface of your egg whites.

Then use a flat spatula to gently fold the whites until the flour is incorporated.  When I fold, I scrape my spatula against the inside edge of the bowl and follow the bowl down and up, bringing some batter with the spatula and then fold it over the top.  Basically, you should never put your spatula in the middle of the batter.  Always start on the outside and fold in to the center.

You don’t want to stir the batter or all the air bubbles will disappear.  You want to keep the batter as light as possible.

When that flour is folded in, repeat until all your flour is mixed in with the batter.  Again, fold the batter.  Don’t stir it.

careful

Careful!

Baking the Cake

Ok.  The hard part is over.  Now just scoop your batter into a bundt pan.  Don’t grease the pan!  It’s actually really important to not grease the pan because the fat from the grease will cause your batter to break down.

pan

In the pan!

Bake the cake at 350 degrees until the cake is golden brown.  It should take about 35-40 minutes and use a wooden skewer to make sure it’s cooked through.

The finished cake is a thing of beauty!

baked

Beautiful.

Cool it down!

When this thing comes out of the oven, cool it upside down!

Gravity will help keep the cake nice and light as it cools.  If you cool it right side up, it will probably collapse as it cools.

upside down

Gravity!

Once the cake has cooled, just run a knife around the outside of the cake and it should just fall right out!

cake

Out of the mold.

The Topping

There are a lot of toppings that go great on angel food cake.  Since our meal for our anniversary was pretty heavy, I went with just a light strawberry topping.

I just simmered a pint of strawberries with a small amount of water and sugar for a few minutes and then let them cool.  It was the perfect topping for the cake.

simple

Simple strawberries.

It’s kind of hard to see but the cake is super-light and really springy.  It turned out perfectly.

light

Light and perfect.

I don’t fancy myself as a great baker (I still can’t do croissants), but I was really pleased with how this turned out.

If you give this a shot, it’s really fun to grill angel food cake slices also.  It gets kind of crispy on the outside which is awesome.

Anyone else angel food cake fans?  It has some annoying steps, no doubt, but the end results are really worth it.

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25 comments on “Traditional Angel Food Cake

  1. I’ve used a carton of egg whites before to make angel food cake. Worked out well, and didn’t feel obligated to make a million gallons of custard or something with the yolks.

  2. Nick, you can use your egg yolks for ice cream!! You can do this with 12 eggs:
    6 cups half-and-half
    13 oz sugar (I use sugar that has had a vanilla bean and its seeds marinating for awhile)
    12 egg yolks

    This is all you do:
    Heat half-and-half to a bare simmer. Don’t scorch it.
    Whisk the yolks together. Add sugar to it, in batches, to keep it smooth.
    Temper milk into yolk mixture, and add it all back to the pan. Heat (whisking pretty often to avoid any burning) gradually up to 170-175 degrees, then take off the heat.

    When it cools, I’d add about a tablespoon of vanilla.

    For coffee ice cream, add about a tablespoon of your favorite Instant coffee granules to the milk before you temper :) Same process if you want chocolate ice cream, just use cocoa powder.

    Store in the refrigerator up to a couple days if you need to, but you should throw it in an ice cream maker within 24 hours of it chilling in the fridge.

    I’m usually in the other boat — needing to use my egg whites! This is a great way to do it, thanks so much!

  3. Hi Nick – You went to far more trouble than I did for Betsy (I am her mother)! I always used the mix….

    Another use for the yolks would be to put some extras in a quiche.

  4. Happy Anniversary! I’m glad that you just let the meal be about you guys w/o stopping every 14 seconds to photograph it. That’s for weeknights! ;)

    If I had 12 yolks lying about, I’d make flan, for sure. Or creme brulee. Or a yellow cake made w/all yolks. Or creme anglaise.

  5. This is a really dumb question but do you think you could bake this in a different shaped pan? I have friends coming over tonight and have everything to make this dessert except that.

    1. I don’t see why not. If you use a 9×13 pan or something though, I would line the bottom of it with parchment paper and make sure it’s really clean and ungreased.

      Then when it comes out, still cool it upside down and then you’ll just have to cut around the outer edges of the cake and it should release pretty easily.

      Good luck!

  6. I love angel food cake, but probably not that much! BTW, they sell something called “bakers sugar” that comes in what looks like a cardboard milk carton–it’s already processed really fine and would save that step. Happy belated anniversary! :-)

    1. Umm… did not know that. That would definitely save a step and be worth it in my opinion. I hated grinding sugar…

      1. Is 1-3/4 cups of the super fine sugar equal to 1-3/4 cups of regular sugar,
        processed in a food processor? I don’t know if the volume increases or decreases
        when you process it.

  7. This looks really good! I love Angel’s food cake. It’s funny to see that your $20+ strainer broke. I went with a $2 Ikea strainer instead of the spendier version and while it won’t last forever, it’s been going strong for about a year now. I’m certainly not glad to see yours broke, but I guess I’m glad my cheapo is doing the job just fine.

    PS – Happy Anniversary!!!!

  8. I’ve had angel food cake fail and really blamed it on our altitude here in Albuquerque. Living in Colorado, do you make any adjustments for baking and boiling?

  9. I make Big Red Kitchen Garlic Chicken a lot to freeze. for sandwiches or chicken parmesan. You use egg yolks to help the bread crumbs adhere to the chicken.

  10. I was just talking about angel food cake with my roommate last night… oh the irony. Growing up, I would toss a hunk of angel food cake in the toaster oven until it was golden (almost like a toasted marshmallow) then top it off with a light smear of peanut butter. Mmmm… gotta make some ASAP.

  11. Happy anniversary!
    I don’t really bake, but for some reason I always thought it had to be powdered/confectioner’s sugar in there to keep it so airy…. now I’m intrigued about this baker’s sugar thing… does it all have something to do with the crystal structure of the sugar tearing up the fluffy air bubbles or am I just thinking about this too much?

  12. Angel food cake is THE cake I was asking my mom every year for my birthday! It reminds me many great souvenirs and I still like to cook it today.In my family, we have a different variation of the cake. We actually pour some maple syrup on the top…delicious!!! I use Organic Maple syrup which has a better taste and it is a success each time! Because Organic Maple Syrup is more rare I find it online on this cool web site where you can also find various gourmet products made of Organic Maple Syrup. They are called ‘Rouge Maple’ and offered fantastic products!

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