A Trio of Angel Food Cakes with a Foolproof Recipe


trio-of-angel-food-cakes.jpegI’m not sure what’s in the air, but the beloved Angel Food Cake is turning up everywhere.  So I decided to do some research and see where the differences were.  I looked at blogs, the internet and yes, real books!  Here is the list I checked out:  davidlebovitz.com,  americastestkitchen.com,  joythebaker.com,(based on Alton Brown’s recipe),  zoebakes.com, baking bites.com,(from thebestrecipe.com)  foodnetwork.com, Alton Brown, “Bakewise”, author Shirley Cohrrier, “Professional Pastry Chef”, Bo Friberg, original “Joy of Cooking”  and General Mills professional recipes. All the ingredients were the same more or less except one.  Here is what I found.

Sifted cake flour was recommended by all ranging from 1 to 1 1/2 cups.

Sugar was almost always processed to make it finer.  We used a special fine sugar in the bakery known as bakers sugar.  Using a food processor to process the sugar accomplishes this.  Amounts ran from  1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups on average. Salt was not used in all of the recipes.  Where it was used it ranged between a pinch to 1/2 teaspoon.

Egg Whites – Almost everyone recommended using room temperature egg whites..   Most of the recipes used 12 egg whites from large eggs or 1 1/2 cups.   Egg whites freeze beautifully so they can be collected a bit at a time.

Cream of Tarter is an acid used to stabilize the egg whites. 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons was used for the egg whites.  Lemon juice is sometimes used for the same purpose.

Lemon Juice – Some recipes used lemon juice in addition to the cream of tarter.  The majority of them didn’t.

Flavorings – Most used 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of vanilla.

Water  – Some recipes included 1 teaspoon to 1/3 cup water.

Oven Temperatures and Time ranged from 325 degrees to 375 degrees for 35 to 60 minutes with 350 degrees and 45 to 50 minutes the overwhelming choice.

I love Angel Food Cake plain which is how my mother always served it.  I remember once when I asked a friend what cake she would like for her birthday, she said an Angel Food Cake.  Wanting to please her, I made a light, tall, perfect cake and proudly gave it to her.  I will always remember the puzzled look on her face as she accepted.  It seems she always had it frosted.  I had no idea anyone ate it like that.  To this day, I prefer this cake plain.  Sometimes I add slightly sweetened strawberries when serving it but that’s about all I ever do for this cake.

With no fat in the recipe, this is an ideal for a treat for anyone on a low fat diet.  Someone referred to this as a dry cake lacking any shortening.  I don’t know what recipe they were using but an Angel Food Cake is very moist unless the whites have been over-beaten.

There is a special pan for angel food cakes.  It is about 4 inches tall, 10 inches in diameter, has a tube in the middle to evenly distribute the heat and has feet on the top (sometimes) so it can be turned upside down while cooling without the cake touching anything.  Angel Food Cake PanThe pan should never be coated or sprayed in anyway so the cake can cling to the sides of the pan while baking.  It can also be baked in loaf pans or muffin pans.  Times will have to be adjusted downward.  Bake until a tester comes out clean.

The cake is always cooled upside down.  If the pan does not have feet to elevate it off the surface while cooling,Cooling on table it can be turned upside down and hung on a bottle by the tube.  Cooling on bottle (1 of 1)Cool completely.  Run a flexible spatula around the inside edge of the pan and the tube.  Turn upside down to release the side.  The cake will still be stuck to the bottom.  Turn right side up and  run a spatula between the bottom of the cake and the bottom of the pan.  I serve mine right side up, but I have seen it mostly upside down.

The recipe I am giving  you here is from my bakery.  It is the tallest, lightest, best angel food cake I have ever had.  I wish I could take credit for it but I can’t.  It came in a General Mills baking flyer they sent to bakeries.   In all the recipes I researched and have ever seen, barring this one, the egg whites are beaten with about half the sugar and the flavorings after which the flour and remaining sugar are folded in in several additions.  This is where much of the air beaten into the eggs, which is the only leavener in the cake, gets lost as the whites are somewhat deflated in the folding process.  This recipe solves that problem by adding the the flour and remaining sugar  slowly to the egg whites while continuing to beat in the mixer on low. This results in the easiest, most foolproof angel cake I have ever seen. So start saving your egg whites for an easy treat you will enjoy over and over.

In addition to this plain version, two easy additions give you a duo of newer flavors.   Citrus Angel Food Cake and a Chocolate Angel Food Cake rounds out this trio.

I am reposting this recipe as the how to photos for the Angel Food Cake seemed to have disappeared in the original posting.

Base Angel Food Cake Ingredients 2 1/2 cups sugar, divided (500 grams or 17.5 oz.)
14 egg whites, preferably room temperature (1 2/3 cups)
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tarter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (150 grams or 5 .33 oz.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the sugar in a food processor and process for 1 to 2 minutes until more finely ground.Sugar processed for Angel Food Cake

Place the egg whites, vanilla and almond extracts, in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.Egg whites, vanilla and almond extracts for the Angel Food Cake  Beat on medium to a froth.Egg whites beaten to a froth for the Angel Food Cake

Blend half the sugar (1 1/4 cups, 250 grams or 9 ounces), salt and cream of tarter.  Flour and sugar mixed for the Angel Food Cake Gradually add to the egg whites.  flour-and-sugar-added-for-angel-food-cake.jpegBeat to soft peaks on medium speed.  Sift together the remaining  half of the sugar and the flour.  Add  to the egg whites while mixing on low speed in four additions.  Beat just until the flour mixture is incorporated each time.Finished batter for the Angel Food Cake

Pour batter into cake panPouring the batter into the pan for the Angel Food CakeBatter in the pan for the Angel Food Cake

and smooth out.Smoothing the batter for the Angel Food Cake

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until risen, nicely browned and a tester comes out clean.  Don’t over bake.   Baked Angel Food CAkeCool in pan as shown above.

Go around the  tube Releasing around the tube of the Angel Food Cakeand the edge with a flexible spatula. Releasing the edge of the Angel Food Cake

Release the rim of the pan.  Releasing the rim of the pan for the Angel Food CakeRelease the bottom of the cake with a spatula.Releasing the bottom of the Angel Food Cakeand turn it out onto a cake board.  Angel Food Cake upside downTurn it right side up to serve.Angel Food Cake

This generally makes 12 servings.  However, I can eat half of it by myself!

Citrus Angel Food Cake:  Grate the zest from 1 lime, 1 lemon and 1 orange.  Process half of the sugar at a time.  Add the zest to the second half of the sugar and use as called for.

Chocolate Angel Food Cake:  Add 1/3 cup sifted cocoa to the flour.  Since coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate, add 1 teaspoon instant coffee dissolved in the almond and vanilla flavoring.  Use these where called for in the base recipe.Angel Food Cake

With my apologies for not having included this when I posted, here is a great blog on what to do with the leftover egg yolks.   Jen lists links to blogs using 1 to 10 egg yolks.  Really helpful. http://www.fortysomething.ca/2010/04/recipes_to_use_up_extra_egg_yo.php.  Thanks Jen.

Pastry has not only been my profession, but my passion. If there is anything in particular you would like to see or any questions about baking or pastry, please let me know. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss a post!
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23 thoughts on “A Trio of Angel Food Cakes with a Foolproof Recipe

  1. don massey

    Helen…this is great! I’ve never been successful at making Angel Food and I just put this down “…one of those cakes I’ll buy from a pro.” I’m going to give this a whirl as I know that it’s well researched and you’ve tested this until it’s perfection. Here we go!


  2. Chanel Johnson

    Hi Mrs. Helen!


    I am very interested in the muffin application.

    My concern is (without damaging the sides and bottom of the little cake due to such a small area to maneuver in…)…do you have any suggestions on the proper or best way– to remove them so presentation won’t be sacrificed?

    It’s the bottoms sticking– I’m concerned with.

    GOD Bless you!

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Chanel – I wouldn’t try to make these in muffin pans without liners. I have never tried making muffins so let me know if you make them and if they work. My only concern is whether the liners will come off.

  3. Janet Woodward

    Good afternoon Helen from a very sunny Yorkshire
    I agree with you…all of a sudden certain cakes are almost fashionable….and then the fun starts with “original recipes” and chefs own variations….differeing only slightly. What fun…and such a neat trap for the unwary…

    I always whizz the sugars in the blender…to a much finer tilth than caster…gives a much better result. Some recipes ask for demerara…not this recipe obviously….whizz that theough belnder…much superior flavour..use in chocolate cakes..oh yum!!

    I like a pale pink Angel cake….to me its more fun. Must confess I made a Swiss roll on Friday…and wanted a pale pink, a quick dab of colour…and the result…was a Dayglo pink….must have been good…as it all was eaten very fast….

    Keep up the good work…have fun!!
    Janet & Smokie the kitty

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Janet – so happy to hear from you. I would have loved to see the dayglo cake…..so easy to do. We don’t get demerara here without a hunt – love the idea of using it in chocolate cakes with a hint of coffee to deepen the flavor.

      Take care of Smokie and of yourself.


  4. Rockyrd

    Wow Helen how beautiful! I am drooling.
    I have some whites frozen and will get them out soon to try this. Your method of whisking in the dry ingredients is something I am looking forward to try as I usually dump it in a big bowl and fold them in by hand.
    My grandmother and mother both made this cake plain, no icing just some 10X on top and always served berries and cream on the side. I wonder what kind of icing the others had on it. Chocolate? Would the cake hold up with that?

  5. Manisha

    Helen many thanx for reposting this recipe with so much detail. It is difficult to go wrong with this recipe with all the important information you have shared. Have always folded flour into whipped egg whites. To whisk it in the whites in mixer is something new to me and would try it out to make things simpler for myself.
    I love lemon flavoured angel food cake with lemon curd and whipped cream.


    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Manisha: I hope all is going well with you and your new kitchen. Mike loves this cake so much I make it often because it is so easy. Love the Lemon version with the curd and whipped cream. Sounds wonderful.

  6. Becky woods

    Helen, thank you for such detailed directions and step by step pictures! My mom made angel cake from scratch when I was little. We, too, ate it plain; we only iced cakes when company was coming or for birthday cakes! Thanks for the memory nudge.
    Thanks for this terrific blog!
    Becky Woods

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Becky: So glad you enjoyed the blog. Sometimes simple is best. Definitely the case with Angel Cake. My mother was a tremendous cook and baker, although at the time I certainly didn’t appreciate it. I was a tomboy and followed my brother everywhere. Wanted nothing to do with “girl stuff”. But somewhere that changed and I find it ironic that food became my life. Very happy with how things turned out.

  7. Mary Soucy

    I love Angel Food Cake, but I never make it. Not because I find it difficult to make, because I don’t. [Your instructions are wonderful, by the way!:) And the citrus cake sounds really good!] But I never know what to do with all the yolks — that’s a lot of yolks! I don’t have a recipe that just calls for yolks. Do you have any recipes?

    Can I freeze them for later use? I would probably have to scramble them and not freeze them as little globes — maybe 1/4 cup cubes. I could add them to frittatas, or custards, etc. But that is still a lot of yolks.

    Thank you, in advance for any suggestions!!

    1. Sylvie

      Check the dairy/egg department at your local grocery store – you should be able to find egg whites in 500-ml cartons

  8. Connie

    This is very much like my grandmothers both made. However, their’s were always very raised as our family raised turkeys and they used those egg whites. Lots of egg whites. Best just eaten plain!

  9. Eva Forson

    Thanks for the explanations, you are so thorough. One comment on very fine sugar, Caster Sugar which you would find in British cookbooks, serves the purpose and you won’t have to process it. Many years ago when I first arrived here, I found it in some supermarkets but it has disappeared.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Eva: I do know about caster sugar and it is impossible to find here. At the bakery we used “Baker’s Sugar” which was very fine (much like caster, I would think). But since that isn’t available, I resorted to processing the sugar. There are products I would have available at the bakery that aren’t on the grocer’s shelves, so I try to find a work around for them. Thanks so much for sharing.

    2. Liz Haden

      In Canada “Fruit” sugar used to be the equivalent of British castor sugar and worked for my English mother in all the recipes she taught me when I was knee high. Redpath Sugar, the main producer of sugar products in Canada has changed the product. It is now called Instant Dissolving Sugar. My husband Richard is the pastry expert in the family. I’m the cake lady. We’ve both found this extra fine sugar a boon for use in our baking.

      1. hfletcher Post author

        Hi Liz: When I had the bakery, we used what I imagine is a similar fine sugar. It was called Baker’s sugar. Unfortunately, it comes in 50# bags. Can’t imagine where would store it! But I agree it was wonderful for baking.

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