Lemon Angel Food Cake Recipe

Lemon Angel Food Cake on a platter and slices on plates

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 43 mins
Cool: 3 hrs
Total: 4 hrs 3 mins
Servings: 10 to 12 servings
Yield: 1 cake
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
235 Calories
4g Fat
46g Carbs
5g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 235
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 2g 11%
Cholesterol 9mg 3%
Sodium 234mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 46g 17%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 34g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 4mg 22%
Calcium 10mg 1%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 174mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This cake is a classic angel food cake with a lemony twist. While traditional angel food cake acts as a great canvas for other flavors like strawberry, chocolate, or peach, this cake stands all on its own with the addition of lemon. The buttery lemon glaze pairs deliciously with the cake, is visually attractive, and adds more flavor.

Angel food cake is a very technical cake that does require some attention, but don't let that intimidate you. The most important thing is to make sure you do not grease your pan. You want the cake to climb up the pan while baking, and an ungreased pan allows this to happen.

Make sure to slow down when working on this recipe. Read the directions carefully and and pay attention to the visual cues. This recipe contains all the information you need for a successful bake including what to look for when whipping the egg whites and how to carefully fold in the ingredients. Using cake flour is another way to ensure success because cake flour is a softer, finer flour than all-purpose, which will be reflected in the cake's texture.

This is a great everyday or celebration cake and you can easily customize it to your liking by leaving off the glaze. If you prefer, you could even add meringue to the top and torch it for a totally fun and inventive look.

"The lemon angel food cake was delicious. I had to add a little more cream to the glaze to thin it, but overall, it was easy to make and a success. I used a standard aluminum 2-piece 10-inch tube cake pan." —Diana Rattray

Lemon angel food cake with glaze/tester image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour

  • 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar

  • 12 large room temperature egg whites, about 1 1/2 cups

  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract

  • Fresh berries, for garnish

For the Glaze:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream, more as needed

Steps to Make It

Make the Angel Food Cake

  1. Gather the ingredients. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 325 F.

    Angel food cake ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour and confectioners' sugar. Set aside.

    Sugar and flour sifted into a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt. Whisk on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes.

    Egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt mixture in a stand mixer

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. With the mixer running, very slowly add the granulated sugar. Continue whisking until glossy, stiff peaks form. Whisk in the lemon zest and lemon extract.

    Egg white mixture with sugar, lemon zest and lemon extract in a stand mixer

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. Sift the flour mixture into the stand mixer in 3 additions, folding in each addition with a rubber spatula until just combined. Don't overmix or you'll deflate the meringue.

    Angel food cake batter in a bowl with a spatula

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. Pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Spread the batter evenly in the pan with a silicone spatula.

    Angel food cake batter in a tube pan

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  7. Bake, rotating the pan half way through cooking time, until a cake tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes total.

    Baked angel food cake

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  8. Remove from the oven, turn the pan upside down over a wire rack and let the cake cool completely in the pan, about 3 hours.

    Angel food cake in a tube pan, turned over on a marble surface

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Make the Glaze and Finish Cake

  1. Gather the glaze ingredients.

    Lemon glaze ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. In a medium bowl, add the melted butter and lemon juice.

    Melted butter and lemon jucie in a metal bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. With a handheld mixer on medium speed, slowly add the confectioners' sugar in two batches, beating well after each addition until smooth.

    Butter, lemon juice and sugar in a bowl, next to a hand mixer

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Add the heavy cream and continue to beat until smooth. If the glaze is too thick, and more heavy cream 1 teaspoon at a time until you reach desired consistency. The glaze should be pourable.

    Lemon glaze in a metal bowl, with a hand mixer

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. When the cake is cool, release the cake from the pan by running a knife around the edges. Flip the pan over and gently tap onto a plate or cake stand.

    Baked angel food cake

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. Top with the glaze and serve garnished with berries, if desired. 

    Lemon Angel Food Cake on a platter, and slices on plates with fruit

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Tips

  • Use some of the remaining egg yolks for a delicious and decadent quiche (2 yolks replaces 1 egg).
  • You could also make lemon curd with the remaining yolks and serve it on the side with the cake.
  • To make a richer custard or pudding, replace some or all of the whole eggs in the linked recipes. For each whole egg, use 2 egg yolks.

Recipe Variations

  • For a lighter cake, skip the glaze and dust it with confectioners' sugar just before serving.
  • Before adding the glaze, slice the cake in half horizontally and spread the bottom slice with about 1/2 cup of lemon curd. Replace the top layer and glaze as desired.



How to Store

  • To store, cover the cake with foil or plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature (with or without the glaze on top) for up to four days.
  • The cake will dry slightly, but you can cut a slice and pop it in the microwave for about 15 seconds to bring it back to life.
  • If you store without the glaze on top, be sure to add the glaze before you microwave.
  • To freeze the unglazed cake, place slices on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and freeze. When frozen solid, wrap in plastic wrap and foil and place in a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3to 4 months. Defrost angel food cake on the counter for an hour or so or in the refrigerator overnight.

What does cream of tartar do in angel food cake?

Cream of tartar is a stabilizing agent, which helps when whipping the egg whites. If you don't have cream of tartar you can replace it with an equal amount of lemon juice or white vinegar.