Classic Angel Food Cake

Angel Food Cake
Bernard Prost / Getty Images
  • Total: 80 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Servings: 12 servings
  • Yield: 1 cake
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
175 Calories
4g Fat
31g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 175
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 100mg 33%
Sodium 172mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 31g 11%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Protein 4g
Calcium 33mg 3%
*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 classic angel food cake is naturally light since egg whites are the main ingredient and there is no added fat. The egg whites are beaten to soft peaks, forming tiny bubbles of air before sugar and a small amount of flour are folded in.

Separate the eggs in advance, making sure there is no yolk in the whites—even a tiny speck can keep the egg whites from whipping into a fluffy meringue. Refrigerate or freeze the egg yolks for another use and then let the whites come to room temperature. When you beat the egg whites, make sure there is no grease or oil on the bowl or utensils. A glass or stainless steel bowl is ideal.

Angel food cake may be enjoyed frosted, dusted with powdered sugar, or plain. The light cake makes an excellent base for sliced fruit or berries and whipped cream. Or slice the cake into cubes and make a delicious trifle dessert.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups egg whites (approximately 11 large eggs)
  • 1 1/3 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar (sifted, divided; or granulated sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cake flour (sifted before measuring, 4 ounces)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Preheat the oven to 325 F.

  3. In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and salt and continue beating until the egg whites stand in soft, glossy peaks. Gradually beat in 1 cup of the granulated sugar. Fold in the vanilla.

  4. Sift the measured flour 3 more times and mix with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. With a large spatula, fold the flour mixture gently into the batter until well incorporated.

  5. Spoon the angel food cake batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube cake pan. Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 55 to 65 minutes. When done, the cake will be golden brown and will spring back when pressed lightly with a finger.

  6. Remove from the oven and invert the pan (turn upside down, cake and all) until it is entirely cooled. The pan should have extensions on top which will keep the cake from resting directly on the countertop. If not, invert the center tube onto a large soda bottle or support the edges of the pan with a few cans or jars.

  7. To remove the completely cooled cake from the pan, carefully slide a spatula or knife around the sides. Remove the sides and then slide loosen it from the bottom and the middle tube with a spatula or knife. Enjoy!

Tips

  • Granulated sugar will work, but if you can find superfine baking sugar in your area, it is the perfect choice for light cakes like this one. You can also make your own superfine sugar.
  • Cream of tartar is an acidic ingredient made from grapes. Generally, approximately 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar is added for each cup of egg whites. The acid helps reinforce, or stabilize, the beaten egg whites. If you must replace the cream of tartar, use an equal amount of lemon juice or distilled white vinegar.
  • Another way to stabilize egg whites is by beating them in a copper bowl.
  • To fold the flour into the batter, use a large rubber spatula with slow, sweeping motions. Scrape down the side of the bowl towards the center, bringing the batter on the bottom to the top. Repeat the motion as you turn the bowl until there are no streaks remaining.

Recipe Variations

  • Cinnamon Angel Food Cake: Sift 2 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon with the flour.
  • Cocoa Angel Food Cake: Add 3 tablespoons of Dutch-process cocoa to the flour and sift as directed.
  • Confetti Angel Food Cake: Fold in about 1/2 cup of multicolored or holiday sprinkles along with the flour.
  • Lemon Angel Food Cake: Whisk 2 teaspoons of lemon zest into the beaten egg whites.

How to Store and Freeze

  • Keep angel food cake (well-covered) at room temperature for 2 to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • Wrap angel food cake slices in plastic wrap and foil and freeze for up to 6 months.

Why is it Called Angel Food Cake?

Angel food cake (or angel cake) probably got its name because of its light, cloud-like texture. The cake is thought to have originated with the Pennsylvania Dutch in the early 1800s.

Why is an Angel Food Cake Baked in an Ungreased Pan?

As the delicate and airy cake bakes and rises, it adheres to the sides of the pan, keeping it from falling. When cooled upside-down, the ungreased pan keeps the cake from coming away from the bottom.