Making Angel Food Cake

This is the cake my twin sister and I ate regularly out at my grandparents’ house in Wayne, Illinois. Normally we ate it plain or with a little powdered sugar sprinkled on top, usually a few berries on the side. Still, somehow I think grandma would approve of this treatment with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. She was a slender woman right up into her 90’s, but had no problem with dairy fat and/or chocolate when circumstances permitted.

Begin by assembling your ingredients, then preparing your pan. You can use a traditional tube pan as I’m doing, though I happen to know that this recipe fits perfectly into a 14″ x 4″ Pullman loaf pan (thanks, reader Chana!). Angel food cake pans aren’t typically greased, so some sort of nonstick strategy needs to be put in place for the bottom at least. I fold up a parchment round like so, then cut out the middle to fit over the tube.

Like so:

Once that’s done, assemble your ingredients and preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Begin by whisking the cake flour and salt together in a bowl.

Next, the egg whites. Place them in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whip…

…and whip about a minute until they’re frothy. Add the cream of tartar and any extracts you may be using.

Whip the whites until they’re thick, but just shy of soft peaks. At that point start adding the sugar in a steady stream.

Whip them to just shy of stiff peaks, still a little soupy. I overdid it a bit here, but the cake still turned out quite nicely.

Next, start sifting on the flour mixture. About a third.

Fold it in using your largest spatula. Don’t worry about incorporating everything before you add more.

Then add more.

A couple of little unincorporated streaks are OK.

Scrape the mixture into your pan.

To release any large air pockets, tap the pan on the counter and/or gently pull a fork through the batter.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until the cake is browned and springs back when tapped on the top.

Invert the cake, either on the pan’s feet or on a rack. Some people like to up-end the pan on a (full) wine bottle. whatever floats your boat!

When the cake has cooled completely, run a sharp knife around the sides of the pan and the tube.

Flip the pan over and the cake should drop out.

Gently peel off the parchment, and…

Ta-da! Grandma’s favorite angel food cake. Almost as good as she made it.

Slice and serve, using a serrated knife for sure, an angel cake “comb” server is best if you can find one.

Serve with a dusting of sugar, with fruit, or go a little wild with the chocolate sauce, you really can’t go wrong.

VARIATION: This recipe can be supplemented with various flavor “inclusions” if you like. A half cup of finely grated chocolate or ground almonds makes a great addition.

23 thoughts on “Making Angel Food Cake”

  1. The cake looks lovely!!!!! 🙂 One question, cake flour can’t easily be found here in Guyana, can self raising flour be used instead?

    1. Thanks, Melody!

      Self rising flour won’t work for this (too much leavening combined with the egg foam). To approximate cake flour, take away one tablespoon of flour from every cup of flour you’re using and replace it with corn flour (cornstarch). That will make a serviceable substitute.

      – Joe

      1. Similar question going the other way: Would gluten free flour pose too much a problem?

        1. Hi James!

          That is a very interesting question. You’ll need something that will create a comparable gel to help hold it up. For this sort of job you’ll need to supplement a standard potato-tapioca-rice flour mix with corn starch for extra gelating power. A quarter cup of each should do the trick!


          – Joe

  2. I want to eat my screen: the cake looks so fluffy and like a cloud!
    We have a friend who makes a lovely hot sweet almond soup-like dessert, and has tons of almond pulp left over which I use to replace some of the flour in when I make angel food cake or chiffon cake.
    I believe they use blanched almonds, toasted lightly, blended with some water into a paste, then squeezed through cloth (as they only use the almond juices to make the dessert). The remains of the almond are all for me to make almond angel food cake – the smell of almond is fragrant throughout the house when you bake it!

  3. Someone at work told me about a recipe where you do a boxed angel food cake mix with a 15 oz. can of crushed pineapple. I’m guessing there is no way to emulate that with a scratch cake–it would be too wet but I wonder if you could drain the pineapple and manage it??

    Hmm…your pan doesn’t LOOK non-stick. 🙂 Actually the whole blog is marvelous and funny I never thought to put parchment in the bottom of the pan like I would any layer cake. Must be that gripping obsession I got from some cooking show that made me think doing ANYTHING to keep it from gripping the pan on ANY side is a bad thing. Thanks for the tip!

    1. My pleasure, Linda! And that’s interesting…but yes, I think some amount of pineapple would work. Maybe not a whole 15 ounces…but you could always try and get back to me with the results! 😉

      – Joe

  4. I always thought I was the only one who grew up in a family that ate angel food cake plain! When money wasn’t tight (and berries were in season) we’d even get some macerated berries… although niether my mom or any of my grandmas would use the word “macerated”. There’s nothing better than snowy white angel food cake drowned in sweet sticky sugar-fruit juice!

    1. Amen, Brian!

      I prefer a simpler angel food cake generally. It’s so sweet it really doesn’t need much embellishment!


      – Joe

  5. I use a two-part pan for angel food and sponge cakes, which eliminates the need for a parchment base. But I logged in to share my mother’s peppermint angel food cake tip. She always bought extra red and white candy canes at Christmas time so that she would have them on hand when she wanted a pale pink peppermint cake.

    Pulverize candy canes in the blender and replace some of the sugar in your cake with an equal weight of candy cane. If you want to make it more complicated, sift the dust and beat the finest into the egg white, fold the larger bits in with the flour so that you get an occasional candy bit.

    This is delicious plain, with chocolate, and with fresh fruits, though in our family different people like different mint-fruit combinations. I like it with ripe peaches.

      1. I agree. Clever. I’m thinking you could do that with other candies for subtle flavoring. Like lemon candy or orange. I’ll have to try one of those when candy canes are around again!!

  6. Hey Joe,
    I tried to make an Angel Food cake a couple years back. It came out looking beautiful but when I put it on the wine bottle to cool (an option you mentioned in your tutorial), after a few minutes of sitting, chunks of it came plopping right out of the pan. The cake was still light and tasty, but presentation definitely suffered. Any ideas what went wrong?

    1. Hey Ron!

      That is quite odd…it sounds like it could have been a bit under-baked. Did you tap it on top to be sure?

      First time I’ve ever heard of that!

      – Joe

  7. Hullo Joe!

    I love angel food cake! Have you ever tried doing it without covering the bottom? I never cover the bottom of the pan, and it has always come out beautifully!

    If you haven’t, try it! It’s a couple of minutes saved! =)

  8. Hi Joe,

    I made this last night! I had exactly enough left over egg whites from a large batch of chocolate crème brûlée (which was fabulous). As I was removing it from the pan, I couldn’t help myself from eating every crumb that fell off. Each crumb was so delicious! Now all I can do is think about it until I get home from work tonight. I’m going to whip up some of that chocolate sauce too and there are fresh strawberries in the fridge! I think I’m going to pass out now! 😉


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