Angel food cake is just a European sponge cake that immigrated to the United States and adopted the no-fat trend of the 1990s. Only it was actually the 1800s. Angel food cake was ahead of its time. Or behind the times, depending on your views about fat.
Regardless of how pro- or anti-fat you may be, we can all agree that angel food cake is the perfect lightly sweet, pillowy, fine-crumbed cake to serve as a vehicle for whipped cream and berries.
DO I NEED AN ANGEL FOOD CAKE PAN?
An angel food cake pan is a tall sided pan with a removable bottom and a tube in the center. This allows the cake to cook evenly and helps maintain its structure. Some pans also have feet on them to allow air flow when flipped upside down.
If you don’t have an angel food cake pan, that’s okay. You can still make this cake, but you need to use a pan with tall sides, like a loaf pan, because the batter rises considerably, and you still need to cool it upside down on an elevated surface.
If you opt to try this with a loaf pan, you would need to divide it among two and possibly three loaf pans, filling them only about halfway full. It will also be tricky to remove the cake from the pan because it will stick to the bottom. Your best bet is to try and slide a spatula down the side and underneath the cake to release it after it has cooled.
You might be tempted to make an angel food cake in a bundt pan. While I’m usually a big fan of experimentation, I wouldn’t use a bundt cake pan, because they usually have some kind of design or texture on them, which would make it difficult to slide a knife around the cake to release it.
If you like angel food cake, it’s worth investing in the proper pan. Mine is similar to this one.
TIPS FOR THE BEST ANGEL FOOD CAKE
- Never grease the pan. An angel food cake needs to climb the sides of the pan. Grease would prevent that from happening, and you would end up with a flat cake.
- Don’t let fat from the egg yolk or allow any grease in your mixing bowl. It will prevent your egg whites from whipping up.
- Let the cake cool in the pan upside down. This helps maintain the height of the cake and its light, airy texture.
- Allow air to circulate under the pan to help it cool and prevent it from becoming sticky.
WHEN IS ANGEL FOOD CAKE FULLY BAKED?
The top should be dry, golden, slightly cracked, and spring back when you touch it.
WHAT TOPPINGS GO BEST WITH ANGEL FOOD CAKE?
Angel food cake is such a light, ethereal cake. It’s practically magical all on its own, but what doesn’t like a little dressing up every now and again?
Top your angel food cake with any number of fruits and sauces. A few of my favorites are below:
- Sugared peaches (Toss them in a little sugar, and let them sit to release their juices; then spoon them over slices of cake.)
- Macerated strawberries
- Barely-sweetened whipped cream
- Lemon curd
- All of the above
HOW TO STORE ANGEL FOOD CAKE
Angel food cake can be stored wrapped in cellophane on the counter for up to a week. After four days it will still be edible, but a little stale.
CAN YOU FREEZE ANGEL FOOD CAKE?
Yes, you can! Well-wrapped in cellophane and aluminum foil, it should keep for up to three months!
WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVER EGG YOLKS?
The benefit of making an angel food cake from scratch is that you have loads of leftover egg yolks! That means you get to make ice cream or pasta noodles. If you are thinking to yourself, “I just made an angel food cake; I’m not making anything else!”—I get it. You can freeze egg yolks, too.
WANT MORE CAKE RECIPES? TRY THESE!
Angel Food Cake Recipe
- 1 cup (130 g) cake flour, sifted
- 1 cup (115 g) powdered sugar, sifted
- 12 egg whites
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 3/4 cup (180 g) granulated sugar
1 Preheat oven to 325°F.
2 Combine the cake flour and powdered sugar: Sift together the cake flour and powdered sugar into a bowl or a piece of parchment.
3 Begin whisking the egg whites by hand: In the bowl of a stand mixer, add egg whites, cream of tartar, salt, and the vanilla and almond extracts. Hold the whisk of the stand mixer in your hand. Manually and aggressively whisk the egg whites for about a minute. This just helps get everything started.
4 Continue whisking the egg whites with a mixer: Set the bowl into the stand mixer base fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk at medium speed until the egg whites have thickened and are frothy, about one minute.
Continue whipping at medium speed, and slowly sprinkle the granulated sugar over the whipped egg whites a little at a time, until the sugar is incorporated and the eggs are white, shiny, and hold medium stiff peaks.
To test this, stop the mixer, detach the whisk and the bowl from the mixer. Lift the mixer out of the egg whites, and turn it upside down. A short tip of egg white should fall over when you pull the whisk from the bowl.
5 Fold in the flour mixture: Remove the bowl of the stand mixer from the base, and slowly shake the flour a little a time, about a 1/4 of the flour, over the surface of the egg whites. Use a spatula to fold the flour into the egg whites. Repeat this process until all of the flour is incorporated.
6 Bake: Scoop the mixture into an un-greased angel food cake pan. Bake for 40 minutes. The top should be springy, dry, golden, and slightly cracked.
7 Cool the cake upside down: Let the cake cool upside down on a bottle or the feet of the pan for 90 minutes to 2 hours. This allows the cake to cool and maintain its structure. If you flip the cake over too soon, it will compress or collapse.
Once the cake pan is completely cool to the touch and you’ve patiently waited at least 90 minutes, slide a knife around the edges and the center tube. Turn it upside down. Remove the base from the sides. The cake will still be attached to the base. Slide a knife between the base and the cake.
8 Serve: Eat with berries, whipped cream, or out of hand while standing in the kitchen. Store covered on the counter for up to a week.
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