This Angel food cake recipe is a super delicate, low fat cake made of egg whites, low protein content flour and sugar. It has an incredible fluffy texture and it is as soft as the clouds in the sky. Making Angel food cake is very quick, but the baking process requires some attention. In my Angel food cake recipe you will learn everything you need to know about the technique so your Angel food cake will turn out perfect every time!
I recently realized I haven’t had an Angel Food cake recipe before mainly because my super soft, tall, airy sponge cake fairly well satisfies the “light & fluffy” sponge cake needs. Also, I did not actually own an Angel food cake pan up until last week but I am already in love with it! Angel food cake is one of a kind, the delicate texture can be achieved with some simple, but set ingredients, applying appropriate mixing technique using the right equipment. Let’s get started!
Important notes regarding the ingredients of the Angel Food Cake
- read the recipe carefully
- avoid using substitutes unless aware of how to fully reformulate the recipe in order to keep the balance in texture as well as flavours
- measure your ingredients with the help of a digital kitchen scale
You will need egg white only to make this Angel Food Cake recipe. I recommend making lemon curd from the leftover egg yolks and use it either on the cake or make my lemon curd filled cupcake. Eggs must be at room temperature as always. Please note that as eggs are aging it is increasingly difficult to separate yolk from white therefore best if you use super fresh eggs that you can easily separate. Make sure no egg yolk goes into the egg white you will use whatsoever, not even a tiny bit. It would be impossible to whip the meringue up correctly even with a small amount of egg yolk in it and that is increasing the risk of cake collapse. Since egg white is the actual rising agent in the recipe (no baking powder or similar), the most important part of the recipe is to get your egg white right.
If you haven’t read my Guide about the different types of sugar and their functions in baking, head over here. In this Angel Food Cake recipe you must use superfine sugar that you can either buy or make at home by pulse blending granulated sugar until it breaks into tiny pieces. Please do not save this step, neither granulated sugar nor powder sugar would work, super fine sugar is exactly what you will need.
I use pastry flour in this recipe which is low in protein. In most of the countries there are different kinds of flour available with a range of different protein content. Perhaps it is not called pastry flour in your country but you will be able to identify the different kinds of flour using my Flour Guide in here.
4. Cream of tartar or some sort of acid
Cream of tartar is an acid that stabilizes whipped egg whites, you definitely can’t leave it out while make this delicate Angel Food cake recipe! Except, if you use another acid as I did, given I run out of cream of tartar. Good news for those of you who can’t access cream of tartar, I tested and tried the recipe with simple white vinegar and it works like charm without the vinegar taste of course!
5. Poppy seed
It is a bit risky game to add anything to this fragile, delicate cake batter however I really wanted to add another layer of texture with crunchy poppy seeds. It works super well, feel free to try it or leave it out if you are a first timer.
That is it! No baking powder, no baking soda, no milk, no butter! None of these are used to make Angel food cake! If you want a classic sponge cake using all these ingredients, check my sponge cake recipe out.
5 tips regarding the technique and equipment of making this Angel Food Cake recipe
1. What cake pan to use to make Angel Food Cake
Angel food cake requires a so called Angel food cake pan. Contrary to what we normally do in baking, do not grease the pan and do not line it with parchment paper. In order for Angel Food Cake to bake properly, you need it to stick to the pan and rise “on the wall” of the pan therefore the best choice to use is a non-stick aluminium pan. I did purchase a 7 inch / 18 cm one with removable bottom and could not be happier. Chose the brand you prefer but make sure it is non stick aluminium.
2. How to make the meringue part of the Angel Food cake recipe
Whipping egg white is probably the most important step of making this Angel Food cake recipe. Make sure you use room temperature egg white which is absolutely free from any sort of fat (e.g. egg yolk). If you get some egg yolk into the egg white in the process of separating, start again. Believe me, you can’t make a successful meringue and Angel Food cake with that batch unfortunately.
While whipping egg white start on low speed then increase gradually. If you are using cream of tartar, you should use it now before adding sugar in. You must use superfine sugar which has smaller crystals than regular granulated sugar therefore dissolves quickly while beating up the egg white into meringue. If you can’t find superfine sugar in your local supermarket, pulse blend regular white sugar in food processor until the sugar crystals get smaller, however make sure you don’t make powder sugar out of it.
Sugar needs to be added to the egg white very slowly, one table spoon at a time while the mixer is on otherwise it might get crystallised and you have to start the whole process all over again. It is very handy to use a Stand mixer for this recipe, as with hand mixer it can take way too long to reach the desired consistency.
Speaking about consistency, is very important that you whip egg white until soft peaks, not stiff peaks. Soft peaks is the optimum stage for the meringue while making Angel Food cake for two reasons. 1. It is easier to fold flour in 2. It will continue to expand in the oven while baking. Stiff peaks can result in Angel Food cake collapse straight after baking.
If you are using vinegar, you must add the vinegar after whipping egg white and before adding flour.
3. How to fold flour into the meringue
Well, one word key to remember here or two to be exact: very carefully! First of all, have your flour sifted and measured ready before making the meringue as once it reaches soft peak in consistency, you won’t have time to panic around your kitchen to find the flour, scale etc. (talking from experience). It is very important that you sift the flour upfront, last thing you want is having to deal with lumps in the this cake butter. You will need a Rubber spatula to fold flour into the meringue in 3 steps, always only 1/3 flour at a time. Make sure you carefully fold flour into the mixture without deflating the meringue. Once it is done and no flour visible in your cake batter, add in poppy seed or you can leave it out and very carefully almost like one big cloud fold the mixture into your Angel Food Cake pan. As mentioned above do not grease the pan and do not use parchment paper. Tap the pan a few times to the kitchen counter and smooth the top with an Offset spatula.
4. What is the optimal temperature to bake Angel Food Cake
Now to the baking!
Two consideration, regarding oven temperature; First one is the temperature on paper, if it’s too low, it won’t bake especially this super fluffy, tall Angel Food Cake however if the oven temperature is too high, the sponge will rise too fast and might collapse at later stage. I find the ideal oven temperature is 165C / 329F for this recipe. Second consideration is your REAL oven temperature, what do I mean on that? Check my oven for example:
16C / 60F difference is huge (and not unusual), it results in an increasing baking time of an extra 10-15 minutes. I can not highlight enough how important to get to know your own oven and purchase an inexpensive digital oven thermometer. It might not solve all the problem in the world but certainly will increase the chances to become a more successful home baker.
Remember, do not open the oven door before under any circumstances baking time ends!
5. Why cool Angel Food cake upside down
You have done all this hard work, the cake is beautifully risen, then what? You absolutely must cool the cake upside down in the Angel cake pan, yes you have heard it right! Until the cake is completely cooled, its structure hasn’t set. Flipping it upside down ensures that it doesn’t collapse during the cooling process. Once completely cooled, run a thin knife around the edges to release.
How to garnish Angel Food Cake?
Typically you can serve it with cream, fresh fruit, lemon curd, chocolate or caramel sauce but I really enjoy it without any particular garnish with a nice cup of tea or coffee.
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Angel Food cake with poppy seed
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
- Pre-heat oven to 165 C / 329 F
- Sift then measure flour
- Pulse blend granulated sugar to superfine sugar then measure
- Whip egg whites starting on low speed on your Stand mixer . Add cream of tartar at this point if using it. If using vinegar, it will be added at later stage
- Start adding one tablespoon superfine sugar at a time really slowly while increase the speed of your Stand mixer. Once all the sugar in, whip for about 10 minutes until soft peaks and the sugar completely dissolves. Remember, do not overbeat to stiff peaks, it is better your meringue regularly to avoid over beating
- Add in vinegar at this point of using it. If you used cream of tartar then move onto the next step without adding vinegar
- With the help of a Rubber spatula gently fold flour into egg white in 3 steps always adding only 1/3 of the flour at once. Make sure you do not deflate the mixture while folding
- Bake for approx. 35 minutes. Do not open the oven door
- Flip the sponge Angel Food Cake upside down and let it completely cool in the Pan on a Cooling rack
- Once completely cooled down, run a thin knife around the edges and gently tap the pan on the counter until the cake releases
- Serve with cream, icing sugar or fruits