With just 30 minutes of prep time and 6 simple ingredients, the best angel food cake yields a beautifully soft and airy crumb and an elegant presentation. Enjoy a slice as is or with a dusting of powdered sugar and fresh fruit. It’s easy to make and so much better than a boxed mix!
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A Slice of Heaven
Learning to make a homemade angel food cake recipe is like a right of passage for all home bakers. It’s a classic cake that looks as elegant as it tastes and is the perfect cake for all kinds of occasions.
Sure, you can get it at the store, but it’s not nearly as good. I think I may even prefer this over my homemade vanilla cake.
The best angel food cake recipe is simple and light with a pillowy soft white crumb and light golden edges. It’s way better than store-bought and tastes like marshmallow vanilla heaven.
This recipe delivers the best angel food cake I’ve ever had and I can’t wait for you to try it!
Why This Recipe Works
- The perfect texture. This angel food cake recipe is less about the ingredients and more about the process. Taking great care to follow the steps carefully is worth it for the light and airy texture alone!
- Simple ingredients. Made without egg yolks, butter or oil which makes this a low fat cake. Just like with meringue cookies, its egg whites that gives it that pure white color.
- Better than a box cake mix. This humble cake is easy to make but still so much better when it’s homemade. You can’t get the same height or texture from a box mix.
- Versatile. There are so many ways to use a simple white cake. Whether for breakfast, snack, or dessert, the options are endless.
Angel Food Cake Ingredients
Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.
- Granulated sugar: We ground the sugar into a powder almost like confectioner’s sugar but not quite as fine and without the cornstarch.
- Cake flour: Yields a softer, tender crumb which is what every good angel food cake should provide. All-purpose flour is a bit too heavy for this one.
- Egg whites: You’ll need 12 egg whites. I like to separate them while still cold, but then bring the eggs to room temperature before starting. This helps to aerate the eggs as they are beaten. Use leftover egg yolks to make lemon curd to serve on top!
- Cream of tartar: We’re not using any leavening agents such as baking powder or baking soda, so we need the egg whites to hold up our cake. The acid in cream of tartar helps to stabilize the whites which keeps the structure of the cake.
- Fine sea salt: To enhance the overall taste of the cake.
- Pure vanilla extract: A warm flavor addition. I highly recommend using good quality vanilla extract.
- Optional toppings: Powdered sugar, whipped cream, fresh berries.
For a slight variation in flavor, replace the vanilla extract with almond or orange extract. You can even use lemon, orange, or lime juice and zest.
How to Make Angel Food Cake
- Make super fine sugar and add flour. Pulse the sugar in a food processor about 18-20 times until fine and powdery. Remove 1 cup and set it aside, then add the flour to the remaining sugar and pulse again another 8-10 times until combined and airy.
- Make whipped egg mixture. In the bowl of a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment to whisk the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on medium-high speed until pale and frothy. While mixing, add 1 Tablespoon at a time of the sugar you’ve set aside, whisking to combine in between each Tablespoon. At about 5 or 6 minutes, medium peaks will form, then add the vanilla and whip until just combined. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer.
- Fold flour and sugar into the egg mixture. You’re going to add 1/4 cup of flour mixture into the whipped eggs, however you want to sift it in so it stays light and airy. Then, use a rubber spatula to gently fold it in until you can no longer see any dry ingredients. Do not overmix. Continue with remaining flour mixture 1/4 cup at a time.
- Pour batter and bake. Pour the cake batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan, otherwise known as an angel food cake pan. Smooth the top and gently run a knife throughout the batter to get right of any air pockets. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven on the lower middle rack for 30-35 minutes, rotating halfway through.
- Invert cake and cool. Once it’s ready, get your wire cooling rack ready and carefully invert pan upside down. This is why using a pan specifically made for an angel food cake comes in handy. Keep it cooling for at least 1 hour but up to 3 hours. This type of cake is best served once it’s been cooled to room temperature.
- Remove the cake from the pan. When you’re ready to remove the cake, flip it right side up again and run a knife along the inner edge where the tube is and around the outer edge where the walls are. Gently tap on a counter until it releases. Use a serrated knife to gently cut the cake into slices, trying not to squish any pieces!
Sprinkle with powdered sugar or add a dollop of whipped cream and fresh berries before serving. Enjoy!
Why Cool It Upside Down
In a nutshell, it’s so that the cake doesn’t deflate as it cools. Using an ungreased tube pan helps the batter adhere to the sides as it bakes so the edge of the cake acts as a brace holding up the walls as it expands.
There’s no leavening agent or yeast used in an angel food cake, so it’s the whipped eggs that make it so airy. Keeping it upside down as it cools is a surefire way to prevent it from collapsing.
- Measure flour correctly. The texture of this cake is what makes it a cut above the rest, so the best way to avoid the common mistake of adding too much flour is to use a scale. The next best thing would be the spoon and level method.
- Do not overmix. Carefully fold in the flour mixture to avoid releasing too much of the trapped air.
- Do not grease the pan. A tube pan has straight walls and little to no coating. This is so the batter sticks to the walls of the pan as it rises.
- If possible, use a tube pan with feet. When you flip it upside down the feet will help keep the pan elevated. Otherwise use a wire rack.
- Forget to bring your eggs to room temperature? Cover them in warm water for 5 minutes, then separate them.
No! This is why we don’t grease it.
The top will be slightly golden and a skewer inserted into the middle will come out clean.
You need an acid to stabilize the whites, so replace it 1:1 with either vinegar or lemon juice.
If you have it, yes you can. Pulse 3/4 cups with the flour and then use 1 cup in the egg whites.
Not exactly. It is low fat and high in protein, however the sugar content pretty much counteracts any health benefits. However, one might say although it’s not healthy, it’s healthier.
How to Serve Your Cake
This easy angel food cake recipe doesn’t need much to wow a crowd. You can keep it simple and serve it plain or with a dusting of powdered sugar or enjoy it with a dollop of yogurt and fresh berries.
This cake is best eaten within a day or so, but it can be kept for up to 5 days at room temperature. Make sure to cover it in an airtight container so it doesn’t dry out.
To freeze it, wrap it in plastic wrap then transfer it to a freezer-safe bag. Keep it frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and then bring it to room temperature before serving.
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Angel Food Cake Recipe
- 1 10-inch tube pan
- 1 ¾ cups (350 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (120 grams) cake flour
- 2 cups egg whites , at room temperature (about 12 large eggs)
- 1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Optional topping: Powdered sugar, Whipped cream, Berries
- Adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Do not grease the tube pan.
- In a food processor, pulse the sugar 18 to 20 times, or until fine and powdery. Remove 1 cup and set aside, leaving the rest in the processor. Add the flour. Pulse 8 to 10 times, or until combined and airy.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on medium high until pale and frothy. With the mixer on, add 1 Tablespoon sugar at a time, waiting until combined, before adding the next Tablespoon. Whip a total of 5 to 6 minutes, or until medium peaks form. Add vanilla extract and whip just until combined. Remove bowl from mixer.
- Sift 1/4 cup flour mixture over the top of the whipped eggs. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold (see notes) in until no dry ingredients can be seen. Repeat with remaining flour mixture, sifting 1/4 cup at a time.
- Carefully pour mixture evenly into a 10-inch tube pan. Smooth the top and gently run a knife through the batter to remove any air pockets. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, or until the top is lightly browned and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Place pan upside down on a wire rack and cool at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours. When completely cooled, run a knife along the inner and outer edge and gently tap on counter until the cake releases.
- Using a serrated knife (a regular knife may squish the cake), gently cut into slices. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or top with whipped cream and berries to serve, if desired.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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