Angel Food Cake
This Angel Food Cake is light and airy with a spongelike texture that almost melts on your tongue. It’s delicious by itself with a dusting of powdered sugar, or you can serve it with fresh fruit, a dollop of whipped cream or a fresh fruit compote. It’s delicious any way you serve it.
We’re all guilty of eating buttery cakes that are loaded with calories and frosted with creamy buttery frostings with even more calories, and we say to ourselves, but that’s what makes them taste great! Well, guess what? There’s one cake in my repertoire that doesn’t contain egg yolks, butter or fat of any kind. That’s right it’s low-fat and it tastes great. Have you been introduced to Angel Food Cake? I’m sure you have since it’s been around for many years. I remember my mother making this cake frequently in the Summer when lots of fresh fruits were in season. It’s perfect by itself, served with fresh fruit or a fresh fruit compote.
TIPS FOR MAKING PERFECT ANGEL FOOD CAKE
Angel food cake is super easy to make, but there are a few simple steps that you need to follow to achieve the perfect cake.
START WITH A CLEAN BOWL AND BEATERS
- It is extremely important to make sure that your bowl and beaters (or whisk) are 100% free of any greasy substance. If you recently used your mixing bowl for whipping up some buttercream frosting, chances are there’s a slight trace of butter still remaining in the bowl. Even if you think your bowl is clean, take a minute and wash it and the beaters again and thoroughly dry them. Why? The egg whites act as the leavening ingredient in this cake. There’s none of the usual baking powder or baking soda to make the cake rise. The egg whites do all the work. They depend on being able to cling to the sides of the mixing bowl to help them rise.
- DON’T use a plastic mixing bowl. Plastic bowls are very hard to keep grease-free. Stainless steel is the number one recommended bowl for beating egg whites to obtain the most volume. Experts do not recommend using glass bowls, as they are slippery, but I have never found that to be an issue.
USE PURE EGG WHITES AND CORRECT TEMPERATURE EGG WHITES
- Separate eggs while they are cold. Eggs are easier to separate when they are cold.
- Separate the egg whites from the yolks. It’s extremely important to make sure there is not one tiny trace of egg yolk in the egg whites. Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks, one egg at a time, in a cup before adding them together. We’re talking about 12 egg whites here. If you separate them and add them to the same bowl or measuring cup as you separate them, you might end up pitching all of them and starting over, if one of them has a slight trace of egg yolk in it. That’s a lot of eggs to waste. Remember, you’re already setting aside 12 egg yolks to use in some other recipe. I save them for french toast.
- Use semi-cold egg whites., just a little under room temperature. Once you separate the eggs, allow the egg whites to sit for about one hour until they are about 60 degrees, but not room temperature, which is about 70 degrees. Some bakers recommend using cold egg whites. Here’s the difference. Room temperature egg whites whip up quicker, but it’s easier to overwhip them. Egg whites that sit out for about 1 hour, semi-cold, form and hold air better and they are less likely to be overwhipped.
WHIP THE EGG WHITES PROPERLY
- Add the egg whites to a large mixing bowl. Use the whisk attachment, if you’re using a stand mixer. If you’re using a hand mixer, just make sure your bowl is deep enough for the volume of egg whites once they’re whipped. Also, when using a hand mixer, it will take just a little bit longer to whip the egg whites.
- Beat the egg whites on medium-low speed until they start to look foamy/frothy.
- Add the cream of tartar and beat on medium speed until soft peaks are just beginning to form. With the mixer still running, slowly add the granulated sugar in a slow steady stream, until all of the sugar has been added. Immediately add the vanilla and salt.
- Underwhip the egg whites: Continue to beat egg whites until they form soft peaks. This doesn’t take long, especially with a stand mixer, so make sure you don’t overmix. When you lift the whisk attachment or beaters from the egg whites, they should form soft peaks that fall over in a droopy manner. Note: If you beat longer, they will become stiff peaks that stand upright on their own. We want soft peaks here. Why soft peaks? Egg whites are the sole leavening for an angel food cake. Underwhipped egg whites are loftier. The softer the egg white, the easier they rise and the higher the cake.
- Folding in the dry ingredients: Remove the whisk attachment. Sprinkle about 1/4 of the flour/sugar mixture over the beaten egg whites at a time. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the dry mixture into the egg whites. To fold, cut through the center of the egg whites with the spatula and drag the spatula across the bottom and up the side of the bowl nearest you. Lift the mixture up with the spatula, gently flip it over and onto itself, allowing it to fall back into the bowl. Remember, you aren’t mixing but folding here. Repeat until all of the flour/sugar mixture has been folded in.
USE THE CORRECT PAN AND COOL PROPERLY
- Use a two-piece 10-inch round angel food cake pan if possible. If you only have a one-piece pan, by all means, use it. The cake should still release and come out of the pan. The most important thing is making sure your pan is deep enough. This cake rises high when properly whipped.
- Make sure the pan is totally free of any grease, (just like the mixing bowl). The cake needs to be able to climb up the sides of the pan.
- Don’t test this cake with a toothpick. This cake has a very porous batter and it may test done when it’s not. The cake is done when it is golden brown on top and the top springs back when lightly touched.
- When you remove the cake from the oven, immediately invert the cake. The cake will continue to expand. If you leave the cake upright it will deflate, and we don’t want deflated cake. If you have a two-piece pan that has little prongs on it, you can simply turn the cake upside down and allow it to rest on the prongs. If your pan doesn’t have prongs, simply hand it on the top of a heat-proof bottle or a metal funnel. If using a bottle, make sure it is full of beans or something that will weigh it down, so that it doesn’t fall over. I also place mine up against my stand mixer to ensure that it doesn’t fall.
- Allow the cake to cool completely, before turning it upright, at least 1 1/2 hours.
THE SEVEN INGREDIENTS FOR MAKING PERFECT ANGEL FOOD CAKE
- Cake Flour: Cake flour results in a very tender fine-crumbed cake. It’s very low in protein and there’s less gluten, which can toughen cakes. Cake flour has a much finer texture than all-purpose flour, which makes it easier to fold into the cake batter.
- Granulated Sugar: This cake starts with granulated sugar. The granulated sugar gets added slowly into the egg whites while they are beating. Confectioner’s sugar dissolves too quickly when added to egg whites. It’s added in later.
- Confectioner’s (Powdered) Sugar: Confectioner’s sugar doesn’t get added directly to the egg whites while they are being whipped, because it dissolves too quickly. Instead of the sugar forming a stable foam, it will form a mixture that almost resembles icing. On the other hand, when it’s added to other dry ingredients, such as cake flour, it helps to disperse the flour particles more evenly and making it easier to fold into the egg whites.
- Egg Whites: Egg whites are the sole leavener in Angel Food Cake. Baking soda & powder are the usual leaveners in most cakes, but not this one. Egg whites are not only the sole leavening ingredient but they are also the main star in this cake. Don’t use frozen or carton-ready egg whites in this recipe.
- Salt: Adds flavor.
- Vanilla: Adds flavor.
- Cream of Tartar: Cream of tartar is an acid that helps to stabilize egg whites. It actually boosts the strength of the air bubbles and slows down their tendency to deflate. Without the addition of Cream of Tartar, the egg whites would collapse, thus causing the cake to sink. If you’re in a pinch and don’t have Cream of Tartar, you can substitute 1 teaspoon of lemon juice for every 1/2 teaspoon of Cream of Tartar,
FUN FACTS: It’s believed by many that Angel Food Cake originated in St. Louis, Missouri, in the mid-nineteenth century. However, some people believe that the recipe was brought from the South by slaves. Some believe it can be traced back to the Pennsylvania Dutch.
Don’t know what to do with all those leftover egg yolks? Try making some homemade Lemon Curd. You can use it to serve on this cake, pancakes or almost anything!Print
This light and airy cake is delicous no matter how you serve it. Serve it with fresh fruit, a dollop of whipped cream, fresh fruit compote, or simply a dusting of powdered sugar. It’s perfect either way you serve it. For the perfect cake, make sure you read my tips above the recipe!
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 2/3 cups room temperature egg whites (12 to 13 large egg whites
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Sift the flour and powdered sugar into a bowl and set aside.
- Prepare the bowl: Note…it is extremely important to make sure your bowl and whisk or beaters and any rubber spatula you might decide to use, are totally free of any type of oil, butter or greasy substance of any kind. Even the smallest trace of fat will interfere with the egg white’s ability to trap and hold air. The egg whites act as the leavener in this cake, so they need to have lots of air, and the more air the more volume. A stainless steel bowl is the perfect type bowl for beating the egg whites. A glass bowl is more slippery, but it will work also. I used a glass bowl in this recipe. Beat the egg whites: Beat the egg whites on medium low speed until they start to look foamy/frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat on medium speed until soft peaks are just beginning to form. With the mixer still running, slowly add the granulated sugar in a slow steady stream, until all of the sugar has been added. Immediately add the vanilla and salt. Continue to beat egg whites until they form soft peaks. This doesn’t take long, especially with a stand mixer, so make sure you don’t overmix. When you lift the whisk attachment or beaters from the egg whites, they should form soft peaks that fall over in a droopy manner. Note: If you beat longer, they will become stiff peaks that stand upright on their own. We want soft peaks here. Read my tips above this recipe to see why we want soft peaks.
- Fold the dry mixture in: Remove the whisk attachment. Sprinkle about 1/4 of the flour/sugar mixture over the beaten egg whites at a time. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the dry mixture into the egg whites. To fold, cut through the center of the egg whites with the spatula and drag the spatula across the bottom and up the side of the bowl nearest you. Lift the mixture up with the spatula, gently flip it over and onto itself, allowing it to fall back into the bowl. Remember, you aren’t mixing but folding here. Repeat until all of the flour/sugar mixture has been folded in
- Transfer the cake batter to a 2 piece 10-inch metal tube pan. Using a knife, cut through the batter to remove any air bubbles. Smooth the surface with an offset spatula.
- Bake the cake in the lowest oven position (I remove the top rack), until the cake is golden brown on top and bounces back when you press on the top with your finger, 35 to 40 minutes.
- Immediately invert the pan onto a heat proof funnel or glass bottle that is filed with something to weigh it down. Don’t use an empty bottle. Allow the cake to hang on the funnel or botle until it is completely cool. This step is important for allowing the cake to fully expand. Note: If your cake pan has feet, you can simply turn it upside down. If your pan doesn’t have feet, use the funnel or bottle for cooling. It will take about 1 1/2 hours for the cake to completely cool.
- Once the cake has cooled, run a long metal spatula or sharp knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake. Lift the cake, tube and all, from the pan. Use a sharp knife to loosen the bottom and center of the cake from the tube pan. Invert the cake onto a plate or serving dish. Cover the cake with plastic wrap or place in a cake container until ready to serve.
- To serve, use a serrated knife and cut with a slow sawing motion for neat looking cuts of cake. Serve this delicious cake with fresh fruit, a fresh fruit compote, whipped cream, or simply a dusting of powdered sugar. It’s delicious any way you serve it.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. You can also wrap and freeze individual pieces of this cake. It freezes beautifully.
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