Warning, long intro ahead! If you want the recipe and/or the review, just keep scrolling.
Homemade angel food cake is amazing… when it turns out. Prior to this, I had made it two times with a 50% success rate. Both times, I scrubbed my mixer within an inch of its life and issued strict warnings to my family against yelling, jumping, running, or anything else that could possibly disturb my cake’s rise. Only whispering and tiptoeing was allowed in the kitchen while it baked.
I couldn’t tell you what recipe I used the first 2 times, as my angel food cake pan has been in retirement for a few years now. Most recipes are similar in tactic, though, and involve a few ingredients that are used very carefully. Whipped egg whites are the only rising agent in traditional angel food cake, so a lot of measures are taken to keep their volume intact. Some common ones include:
- Keep the bowl and beaters very clean and free of fat. This also includes making sure you separate eggs cleanly– even a tiny bit of yolk can ruin your meringue.
- Use cake flour instead of all purpose. I think this is mostly for taste, but I’m not sure. Different flours can significantly change the outcome of a cake based on gluten content, additives, etc.
- Sift the dry ingredients to make the mixing process easier and reduce lumps.
- Don’t grease your cake pan, the angel food cake will “grip” the sides and rise better.
- Cool your cake upside down. This is a weird one, and the reason that angel food cake pans have “legs” on the top. Gravity keeps your cake from collapsing when it leaves the oven.
The recipe I used (from Sally’s Baking Addiction) uses a couple other tips. The main 3 I noticed are:
- Use a food processor to make your granulated sugar finer in texture and aerate your dry ingredients.
- Cut your angel food cake with a serrated knife to avoid “smushing” it (this one’s mostly common sense, but worth noting).
- Whip your egg whites to soft peaks, not stiff, for optimal rising. This means the peaks should droop a little, and not stay stiff upright like meringue.
Three final things:
- The only modification I made to this recipe was substituting 1/4 tsp of the vanilla extract out for almond extract. Such restraint!
- I served this with homemade whipped cream and lemon curd. My go-to lemon curd recipe is from Life, Love, and Sugar. Bonus points that it uses up some of the egg yolks, so hold on to those!
- I had really hoped to make a video for this, but I just can’t seem to figure it out. I will mess around with it on an easier recipe– I wanted to give this all my focus.
Without further ado, here’s the recipe!
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup + 2T cake flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 12 large egg whites, cleanly separated and at room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- whipped cream and lemon curd, for serving (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Position an oven rack in the lower middle area (since the cake pan is quite tall). Do not grease or otherwise prepare it, but have available a 9-10″ tube pan.
- Put the granulated sugar in a food processor and pulse until powdery and fine in texture. Remove 1 cup and set aside.
- Add the flour and salt to the remaining 3/4 cup fine sugar, and pulse until aerated (about 5-10 times).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed and gradually add the 1 cup sugar and whip until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla and almond extracts, and whip until just combined.
- Sift in the dry ingredients in 3 batches, folding very gently with a rubber spatula.
- Spread the batter into your pan, and wiggle it gently to even the surface.
- Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes, or until it passes the “toothpick test”. Rotate the cake halfway through baking to ensure an even cook.
- Let the cake cool completely upside down over a wire rack. This will take about 3 hours. Once the cake is fully cooled, run a knife around the edges and tap the pan gently on the counter to release.
- Serve plain, with lemon curd and whipped cream, with fresh fruit, or otherwise as desired.
I usually group this in with the intro, but I was worried it would get buried. Angel food cake is finicky, and I wanted to provide all the information I could.
This cake earned 4 out of 5 stars. It rose pretty well, but not as much as it could have. I found it very, very sweet (to the point of being less enjoyable), and I could slightly taste the cream of tartar. The recipe itself wasn’t too difficult, and I didn’t have any issues with the egg whites not whipping. I think this is a perfectly okay angel food cake recipe, but I’ll probably try another one in the future.