Baking Blog

How to Make a Heavenly Angel Food Cake at Home

Angel food cake is the lightest, fluffiest cake that you can possibly imagine — hence its heavenly name. Lots of beaten egg whites give the cake its airy texture, towering height and bright white interior. While the cake looks impressive, learning how to make angel food cake is easy. And because it is so versatile, it is well worth adding this recipe to your repertoire! 

How to Make Angel Food Cake

All about how to make angel food cake

Angel food cakes are foam cakes, which means that they get their structure and rise from an egg white foam, or meringue. Chiffon cakes are also foam cakes, but they also include egg yolks and vegetable oil, while angel food cakes are entirely fat free.

Angel food cakes require a lot of egg whites — a whole dozen of them, in fact. The egg whites are combined with sugar to make a stiff meringue, which is the base of the cake.

Before you start whipping, bring the egg whites to room temperature — that’ll ensure you get the most volume out of them. You’re going to have lots of leftover egg yolks and they can be set aside for another baking project. (Check back on the blog next week for how I used them!)

A Dozen Divided Eggs

While most of the rise of the cake comes from the egg whites, it still needs some flour for the right texture. I used cake flour in this recipe and sifted it before measuring it. It is extremely important to sift the flour before using it, because cake flour clumps very easily and you don’t want any floury lumps in your angel food cake. Sifting the flour before measuring it is a traditional to prevent putting too much flour into your cake and accidentally weighing it down.

Sifting Cake Flour into a Measuring Cup

You can get the same effect by weighing out your flour (I’ve noted the weight in the recipe below), but I stick with tradition and actually sift the cake flour straight into my measuring cup before using it. I always sift over a piece of parchment paper so I can funnel the excess back into its container. The flour, along with some salt, is sifted a second time before it is folded into the egg whites. 

Preparing the pan

You will need a 12″ tube pan to make your angel food cake. This type of pan has a removable bottom that makes it easy to get your cake out once it has cooled. It also has “feet” on the top that will hold the pan off of your counter while cooling — and it does need to be cooled upside down.

Unlike in most other cake recipes, the pan should not be greased before you add in your cake batter. The ungreased pan allows the cake to “climb” the sides and give you a better rise than a greased pan would, and you want your angel food cake to stand tall after baking!

Angel Food Cake Batter in a Tube Pan

How to serve angel food cake

My favorite way to eat angel food cake is in generous slices, plain, with a cup of coffee. It may seem boring, but the combination of sweet vanilla cake and hot coffee is a winner in my book.

That said, there are many ways that you can enjoy angel food cake.  It makes an outstanding variation on strawberry shortcake when paired with whipped cream and strawberries, but it works just as well with any other berry you might have on hand. 

Angel Food Cake With Whipped Cream and Blackberries

Angel food cake is also excellent in trifles and can be used in place of ladyfingers in a tiramisu recipe, if you cut the cake into narrow slices. And if you’re a breakfast person, consider saving a few slices to turn into Angel Food Cake French Toast, one of my new favorite brunch dishes.

How to Make Angel Food Cake

Classic angel food cake

Makes 1 cake; serves 12

You might like our metric conversion guide for this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 12 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 cup sifted cake flour (3.5 oz.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Step 1:

Preheat oven to 325 F. In a medium bowl, sift together 3/4 cup of sugar, cake flour and salt. Set aside.

Step 2:

In a large bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually stream in remaining 3/4 cup sugar while continuing to beat the egg whites. Beat at high speed until egg whites each stiff peaks. Beat in vanilla extract and almond extract.

Egg Whites at Stiff Peaks

Step 3:

Sift the flour mixture over the egg whites in two or three additions, folding in the dry ingredients until the batter is uniform and no streaks of flour remain.

Making an Angel Food Cake Batter

Step 4:

Pour the batter into a 12-inch tube pan, ungreased. Tap the pan firmly on the counter to remove any large bubbles.

Step 5:

Bake for 55-60 minutes, until cake is golden brown and set. When you take the cake out of the oven, immediately invert it onto the counter (if your pan has feet) or onto a bottle (if your pan does not have feet) and allow cake to cool completely.

Angel Food Cake Cooling in The Pan

To remove the cake from the pan, slide a long, thin knife around the outer edge of the cake, then invert it onto a cutting board or cooling rack. Run a knife between the bottom of the cake and the bottom of the pan, then reinvert onto a serving platter.

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10 Comments

Avra

Do you think it’s too risky to substitute 1 cup less 2 T all purpose flour + 2 T cornstarch for the cake flour, given the temperamental nature of angel food cake?

Reply
Nicole Weston

Hi Avra,

That substitution will be just fine. I’ve actually done it myself with good results. I recommend sifting your flour mixture an extra time before folding it in, just to ensure there are no lumps in the cornstarch!

-Nicole

Reply
Donna

Is there anything one should be looking for in an angel food cake pan? I note that Wiltons and Chicago Metallic sell pans that are ‘non’ stick. I am wondering whether that prevents the cake from rising as high as possible (or whether it is just non stick enough to make removing the cake easier after baking). Also, I note some pans are very light in colour (as the one in the photograph) and others are very dark. Any suggestions on the best type of pan to use would be appreciated.

Reply
Nicole Weston

Hi Donna,

I prefer light colored angel food cake pans. Both light and dark pans can be used, but darker pans generally produce a darker exterior and the cakes can be a bit drier if accidentally overbaked. I would not use a nonstick pan for angel food cake because the cake pan must be flipped upside down to allow the cake to cool. If the pan is really nonstick, your cake could actually fall right out. If the pan does not have very good nonstick surface, you may as well be using a traditional pan. My favorite pan is made by Nordic Ware, is a light colored aluminum and does not have a nonstick interior.

–Nicole

Reply
Kathleen

I’ve made box cake angel food cake and the directions stress against using anything plastic. I don’t see mention of this in your instructions. I don’t know how one gets all the batter out of the bowl without using a plastic/rubber spatula. What’s your take on this?
Thank you for the recipe.

Reply
Nicole Weston

Hi Kathleen,

There is no reason you can’t use a clean plastic or silicone spatula to fold in the dry ingredients or to get the batter out of the bowl. I typically use heat-resistant silicone spatulas for all purposes in my kitchen, including angel food cakes.

The reason that some cake mixes stress that is because they want to prevent people from getting oils or foreign scents in the cake mix. It is possible that a plastic spatula will retain oils or flavors from other things you’ve made before (such as a garlicky pasta sauce) and the smells could transfer to your cake, but as long as everything you’re using is clean, there should be absolutely no problems with this.

-Nicole

Reply
Lily

Is there any other recipes that I can use the 12 egg yolks instead of wasting them all? Thanks!

Reply
Nicole Weston

Hi Lily,

Leftover egg yolks can be used in all kinds of recipes, including cakes, ice creams and custards. One of my favorite desserts to use up egg yolks is a Spanish custard called Tocino de Cielo: http://bakingbites.com/2012/04/tocino-de-cielo/

Leftover egg yolks can also be stored for a couple of days if you aren’t planning to use them right away. Here are some tips: http://bakingbites.com/2008/03/how-to-store-leftover-egg-yolks-and-leftover-egg-whites/

If you think you may not use all 12 at once, divide them into smaller bowls when you separate the eggs so that only three or four are together, which will make them more convenient to use. There will be a post on Craftsy soon detailing many more ideas, too, so keep an eye out for that!

–Nicole

Reply
TerriSue

I have bee making Angel Food Cakes for years. It’s my husbands favorite cake. This is the recipe I started out with. About 10 years ago I started making the Angel Food Cake Supreme from Betty Crocker. In it you only use 1/2 cup granulated sugar in the egg whites. You add 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar to your sifted flour, sifting again. I find that it gives me an even lighter cake. One thing that I have started doing that you might want to try is I measure my egg whites. It use to be that 12 large egg whites was almost always 1 1/2 cups. Times are changing. In the past five years I have found that I almost always measure out 1 1/2 cups with 11 eggs and sometimes 10 eggs. I am so glad you put this up. People think this is a hard cake to make, but I find it one of the easiest. Once you have all of your ingredients measured out it comes together pretty fast. One more tip. I just recently got a pan with feet. when I was growing up the pans didn’t have them. If some of your younger readers find a vintage pan without feet what you do is balance it on top of a Coke bottle. You mention the bottle but that is the only bottle that was used in the 50’s and 60’s. It fits perfectly! of course you have to find a glass one. lol

Reply
Onebadcookie

I noticed this recipe does not contain cream of tartar. Was it left out intentionally? How does the cake come out without using it?

Reply

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