Angel Food Cake
Angel Food Cake: so soft, springy, and light! It’s the best cake for summer, and it’s so easy to make from scratch, with just a few simple ingredients!
With July 4th right around the corner, it seems like the perfect time to share my favorite recipe for the best summer cake in all the land: Angel Food Cake!
Angel food cake is so perfect for this time of year, because it’s soft, a little sweet, and as light as a cloud. It’s simple as can be, and so delicious with fresh berries or seasonal fruit.
I just can’t think about summer entertaining without imagining a tall, fluffy angel food cake, surrounded by strawberries and blueberries!
WHAT IS ANGEL FOOD CAKE
Angel food cake is a simple sponge cake, made without any fat. It’s light, sweet, and cloud-like, with a pale white interior. It gets its structure from whipped egg whites.
It is naturally fat-free and dairy-free, and it can also be made gluten-free by using a good quality gluten-free flour blend that subs cup-for-cup for regular all-purpose flour. Here are a few that I would recommend:
- King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour
- Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour
- Cup4Cup Multi-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour
It can also be made low-carb/diabetic-friendly if you use an no-calorie sweetener such as Splenda, Stevia, or Erythritol.
WHAT DOES ANGEL FOOD CAKE TASTE LIKE?
Angel food cake is so simple, but there is nothing else quite like it. The texture is so incredibly light, and fluffy, almost like a marshmallow!
It’s sweet without being cloying.
There is a subtle vanilla flavor, as well as a sweet almond backnote. It’s just perfect with berries or fresh fruit.
The best way I can think of to describe the taste of angel food cake is: like a sweet cloud!
HOW TO MAKE ANGEL FOOD CAKE
Angel food cake is made by whipping egg whites until they’re super-fluffy, sweetening them with sugar, and folding in flour, vanilla, and almond extracts. That’s about it! It’s very simple, but there are a few hacks that will really guarantee your success.
The most important thing is the egg whites. And namely, getting as much air into them as possible.
In order to do this, it’s important to make sure your bowl and whisk are immaculately clean. If any trace of any kind of fat remains, it can prevent your whites from whipping properly. Make sure they’ve been scrubbed in very hot, soapy water, or run through the dishwasher on the sanitize cycle.
Adding a little cream of tartar will help to stabilize your whites. Cream of tartar is a white powder that can be found in the spice aisle, or you can purchase cream of tartar here. It’s acidic, so it will help your egg whites to stay fluffy longer. If you can’t buy cream of tartar where you live, you can substitute with a little lemon juice or white vinegar.
You also want to be careful to add things s-l-o-w-l-y to your whipped whites. If you dump flour or sugar over them all at once, you could deflate them! So, gently and slowly add the sugar, while whipping. (See the video below.) And carefully sift the flour/sugar mixture over the meringue, folding it in carefully, in three additions. Always do your best to keep all that air that you’ve worked so hard to whip in!
You may notice that this recipe calls for cake flour. I like using cake flour in this angel food cake recipe, because it’s finer, lighter, and softer. You can read lots more about cake flour here: Why Use Cake Flour?. And you can buy cake flour here.
Even though this angel food cake is made with no chemical leaveners, it will still rise a bit in the oven as it bakes. All those tiny air bubbles will expand from the heat, and your angel food cake will bake up tall and majestic!
THE ANGEL FOOD CAKE PAN
This angel food cake is made in the classic way, in a tube pan (aka: “angel food cake pan”). It’s similar to a bundt pan but without the decorative fluting. If you don’t already have one, you can buy a tube pan here.
This recipe can also be baked as cupcakes, or in a 9×13-inch pan or in two 9-inch diameter cake pans. You will get about 32 cupcakes out of this angel food cake recipe.
You can also halve the recipe and bake it in a 5-cup loaf pan.
Just bear in mind that anytime you bake a cake in a different sized pan than recommended, you will need to adjust the bake time. Smaller or thinner cakes bake in less time than larger, taller cakes.
You’ll know when your angel food cake is done when it feels springy, and a toothpick inserted in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean.
Cool your angel food cake upside down, so it doesn’t deflate as it cools. Many angel food cake pans have little feet at the top, to make this easier.
Once it’s completely cool, just run the blade of a thin, sharp knife around the edge to loosen it, and remove it from the pan.
HOW TO SERVE ANGEL FOOD CAKE
In my opinion, there is no need for icing or frosting on an angel food cake. That kind of decoration just weighs down what should be impossibly light and airy.
The best way to serve angel food cake is with a dollop of softly whipped cream, and some fresh, seasonal fruit. I especially love it with strawberries.
Because angel food cake is so light and spongy, you’ll want to use a serrated knife to slice it, with a gentle back-and-forth sawing motion. If you use a regular knife it’s likely to just smash the cake; you really need those little teeth on the serrated bread knife to get a nice, clean cut.
HOW TO STORE ANGEL FOOD CAKE
This homemade angel food cake should keep at room temperature for 3 to 4 days. Wrap it tightly so it doesn’t dry out or become stale.
After that time, it can be kept in the refrigerator for 7 to 10 days.
Any longer than that, and it should probably be frozen. Angel food cake freezes beautifully! It can be kept in the freezer for a month or two, then thawed at room temperature, sliced, and served.
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- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl, and whip on medium-high speed until frothy.
- Add the cream of tartar and salt, and continue to whip until the whites hold soft peaks.
- In a very slow, steady stream, add 1/2 cup of the sugar, while continuing to whip.
- When the whites can hold a stiff peak, sift in the cake flour and remaining sugar, in thirds, folding after each addition.
- Fold in the vanilla and almond extracts, and transfer the batter to an ungreased 10-inch tube pan.
- Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until the cake feels springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the thickest part comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
- Cool cake upside-down, then remove from the pan, slice, and serve.
More great summer dessert recipes: