Angel Food Cake Recipe

When my grandfather realized, just a few weeks after his wedding, that his new bride didn’t know how to cook, he sent her to cooking school (my grandmother had been too busy studying law). That school was the Antoinette Pope School in Chicago, where my bookish grandmother learned the base skills that would one day turn her into a kitchen maestro. This cake is a slight variation on the recipe she learned then, and made probably hundreds of times thereafter:

4.5 ounces (1 cup) cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (12 large) egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
10.5 ounces (1 1/2 cups) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon extract of your choice: lemon, almond, orange, etc.. or citrus zest (2 tsp.)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk together the flour and the salt. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whip, whip the egg whites on medium-high until they’re foamy, then add the cream of tartar. Continue to whip the whites to soft peaks, then steadily add the sugar and lastly the extracts, whipping to just shy of stiff peaks.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and sift about a third of the flour mixture into the bowl. Fold it in gently, add another 1/3 of the flour, fold, etc. until all the flour is incorporated.

Scrape the batter into a tube pan (bottomless or if not, lined on the bottom with parchment paper). Tap the pan on the counter and/or gently run a fork through the center of the batter to allow any large air bubbles to escape. Bake about 40 minutes until the cake is golden a springs back lightly when it’s pressed.

Invert the pan and allow it to cool, upside-down, completely. To de-pan, run a knife around the edges of the pan and around the tube to release it. The cake is best the day it’s made.

32 thoughts on “Angel Food Cake Recipe”

  1. What’s your opinion on using pasteurized liquid whites for something like this? I know, I know – I could always make buttercream, or pudding, or lemon curd with the yolks, but I’ve never made angel food cake from scratch because the twelve leftover yolks intimidate me!

    1. Oh my, leftover egg yolk girl, where are you? Please call your office.

      While we’re waiting, I can say that I honestly don’t know if you can do it with pasteurized whites. In theory it should work, but I’ve never tried it. But let me just say…pastry cream, hollandaise, curd, génoise, yellow cake…the list, she goes on and on…

      Actually if you turned around and made some yellow cake layers a couple of days later you could freeze those for a later use.

      – Joe

      1. Not sure about angel food cake, specifically. But I have successfully used liquid pasteurized egg whites to make swiss meringue buttercream, meringue cookies, other sponge cakes that ask for more whites than yolks, etc. A third of a 1/3 measuring cup that I use (plain Ikea red plastic ones) equals approx. white from 1 large egg.

    2. Another great use if you like German Chocolate Cake is to make a double batch of that which uses 8 right there! And it freezes well so you can freeze it for another day. I tend to be more “lazy” and hate separating 12 eggs at one sitting but freezing them as you use yolks in other recipes spreads out the labor of separating 12 eggs. And it also saves you trying to deal with a bunch of egg whites when you use a bunch of yolks. You can deal with them another day.

  2. I think your paragraphs need some rearrangement. You’ve got us combining the eggs whites with the flour after the cake has been depanned once, and then it gets a second baking and depanning and the end of the recipe.

    Love the bit about your grandmother!!

    1. Oops, some early drafting, left it there by mistake. Sorry Ted! It’s all better now.

      – Joe

  3. And I just happen to have 12 egg whites (I won’t tell what happens to all those yolks!) to try this one. Sounds like a winner!! Thanks for taking the time to get an angel food cake on the site.

  4. Joe,

    Maybe it’s me but the recipe looks to be out of order or something. It has you bake 40 minutes cool and depan and the all of a sudden fold in the flour with the egg whites again. Am I not reading this correctly?

    1. Yes I was editing and left some old paragraphs up there. My mistake. Sorry!

      – Joe

  5. Hey Joe, I’ve made angel food cakes with pasteurized liquid egg whites and with the whites from actual eggs. The difference I’ve noticed is that the pasteurized liquid whites do not whip up to the same volume as non-pasteurized ones. So, if you want a nice tall angel food cake, use the actual eggs. As for the leftover yolks, one can always make ice cream and custards.

    1. Yes, that was my expectation, since they don’t really whip that well for meringues and things. I appreciate the confirmation!

      – Joe

  6. How funny! My uncle sent his wife to the Antoinette Pope Cooking school after they were married for the same reason. My Aunt was one of the better cooks and baker’s I have know as a result. My mother always loved the Antoinette Pope Cookbook which alas is no longer in print.

    1. I’m lucky to have my grandmother’s copy. It is indeed a fun little book, and pretty much everything in it is still good!

      – Joe

  7. Hi Joe!

    I would like to post a review about this cake (though I made one in your other page, sorry, hahahaha…). The texture of this cake is so fluffy and very soft, and I love it. I substitute some flour with chocolate powder since I love chocolate, hehehe… I also reduce the amount of the sugar, because I don’t really like if it’s too sweet. Overall, this is a great recipe and I will save this recipe.

    Thank you for sharing this recipe!
    Midia

  8. hey Joe !

    i have to say i LOVE your blog ! it’s the perfect combo of technical details (and science!) and yummy recipes and photos!

    one thing though… could you PLEASE provide metric measurements too ? it’s a pain having to convert everything before i start baking !

    love from greece!

    1. Hey Stef!

      Thanks so much for that! I get a lot of requests for metric measurements…I’ll do my best in the future!

      – Joe

  9. My cake didn’t raise like it should. It still tasted good but was kinda heavy. What did I do wrong?

    Thanks
    Sharon

    1. Hey Sharon!

      Sorry to hear that. These cakes tend not to rise all that much. They do a bit, but mostly the baking is about firming up a foam you’ve already made. Was the batter very light and frothy when it went into the pan?

      – Joe

    1. Yes Julia, it can be — if you’re very carefully about the slicing since it’s a very delicate cake!

      Best of luck with the project!

      – Joe

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  11. This was a lovely cake, Joe. Thanks to your pictures I think I got the eggs whipped just right, because it rose beautifully in the oven. Served with lemon curd whipped cream and strawberry sauce on the side, although in truth this cake would have been delightful all by itself.

    1. You served that delight and you didn’t call me??

      Great news, Jennie. So glad to hear it worked so well for you.

      Cheers,

      – Joe

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