Best Angel Food Cake

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Let me show you how to make the best angel food cake ever with just six ingredients! This classic cake is light, airy, and SO much better than any store-bought version. I can’t wait for you to try it.

The Best Angel Food Cake Recipe

This cake is one of the lightest cakes you’ll ever eat. It’s made up of egg whites whipped into a frenzy with cream of tartar to stabilize it, vanilla extract, and a bit of sugar. A thoroughly sifted flour mixture is gingerly folded into the egg whites so as to maintain as much volume as possible. Once baked, the result is a silky, cloud-like cake that is so elegant and crowd-pleasing.

The best part about it is that with only 40 minutes of active kitchen time, you end up with a cake that is just so much better than store-bought. Trust me – you’ll never buy another one again after tasting homemade. Whether you serve slices of this homemade angel food cake with some fresh whipped cream and berries, or layer it into another dessert, you’ll be transported to dessert heaven.

A slice of angel food cake on a plate with fresh berries.

Why You’ll Love This Classic Angel Food Cake

This homemade angel food cake is one of my absolute favorites. Here are some of the best things about it (in my opinion).

  • Just a few ingredients. I love that this angel food cake recipe only requires 6 ingredients, most of which you likely already have in your kitchen. This makes it a no-brainer recipe to whip up when you find yourself in the mood for baking.
  • Texture. This cake is so light and fluffy that it is like sinking your teeth into a cloud. Plus, the almost silky texture is to die for.
  • The perfect canvas. This simple vanilla cake has a subtle sweetness that lends itself beautifully to a variety of toppings. Make it your own with one or several of the toppings listed in the “What to Serve with Homemade Angel Food Cake” section below. You could even make it as a 9×13 cake and decorate it.
  • Simple elegance. Angel food cake is one of those desserts that you can present to pretty much any crowd and receive “oos” and “ahhs”. Your guests will think you’ve been slaving away all day when really you only spent 40 minutes in the kitchen.

What Is An Angel Food Cake?

Angel food cake is a light, airy sponge cake made from nothing but egg whites, cream of tartar, flour, sugar, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. It derives its cloud-like texture from thoroughly sifted ingredients and carefully, thoroughly whipped egg whites that create a beautiful structure for the cake. It has been an American favorite since the 19th century.

Are Sponge Cake and Angel Food Cake the Same?

Sponge cake refers to a family of cakes that contain no fats in the form of butter, oil, etc.. Instead, the moisture in a sponge cake comes from eggs (sometimes just the whites) that are whipped into a frenzy to create volume in the batter. They are usually light, fluffy, and airy. Angel food cake is a kind of sponge cake but not all sponge cake is angel food cake.

Ingredients for angel food cake separated into bowls.

Recipe Ingredients

It only takes 6 ingredients to make this gloriously simple cloud-like cake. Here’s what you will need. Don’t forget to scroll to the recipe card below for exact measurements.

  • Cake flour OR all-purpose flour – While cake flour lends a tighter crumb and is more traditional in angel food cake, it has a distinct flavor to it that I don’t love. All-purpose flour doesn’t have a flavor (in my opinion) and it produces a looser crumb that I prefer. Either flour will work, it just depends on your preference.
  • Sugar – Yes, sugar adds sweetness. But it also helps to stabilize the egg whites along with the cream of tarter.
  • Salt – For flavor. Don’t underestimate it.
  • Egg whites – The eggs should be at room temperature. Otherwise, they will not hold volume as well.
  • Cream of tartar – Cream of tartar is an acid that helps stabilize the whipped egg whites. Since most of the volume and structure of the cake comes from these egg whites, you’re not going to want to take the risk of substituting this ingredient.
  • Vanilla extract – For flavor. There’s not much else in this cake for flavor, so I recommend a good quality extract in this cake.

Cake Flour vs. All Purpose Flour

Many recipes will tell you that you can only use cake flour for angel food cake. However, I tested this cake several times with all purpose flour and cake flour. It works out perfectly either way.

The difference is in taste and texture. Cake flour has a distinct flavor that always comes through when it’s used in cakes. It also lends a tighter crumb. All purpose flour doesn’t have a flavor (in my opinion) and gives a looser crumb. Either flour will work, it just depends on your preference.

As for the amount of flour, if you’re serving the cake simply as a cake, I would use 3/4 cup of flour. It’s especially light that way. But if you’re going to use the angel food cake in something like a trifle and need it to be a little more substantial, then go with 1 cup.

Pro Tips for Whipping Egg Whites

  • Use grease free bowls. The egg whites need to be cracked into and whipped in a completely grease free bowl. Do not use plastic bowls, which tend to hold onto grease. You might even want to wipe down your bowl and utensils with lemon juice before you get started.
  • You also don’t want any egg yolks in your whites. I suggest separating the whites in a separate bowl, then adding them to the rest so that if any yolk accidentally makes into one white, you don’t ruin all of them.

How to Make Angel Food Cake

In just 40 minutes you will be popping what could become your new favorite cake recipe into the oven. Here’s how to make angel food cake. Be sure to scroll to the recipe card below for more detailed instructions.

  • Prep. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Sift. Combine half of the sugar, flour, and salt. Sift them together 5 times.
  • Whip the egg whites on low speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and vanilla extract. Increase speed to medium.
  • Whip some more. Add the remaining sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting 5-10 seconds between each addition. Increase to medium-high speed and whip until it reaches stiff peaks.
  • Gently fold the flour mixture into the egg whites 1/4 cup at a time. Sift the flour mixture as you add it.
  • Pour the batter into a tube pan. Smooth it out and run a knife through the batter and around the outside wall and inside wall of the pan to break up any air bubbles.
  • Bake for 28-30 minutes.
  • Cool. Upside down. Remove the cake from the oven and immediately turn it upside down to cool. Cool for about an 1 hour.
  • Remove the cake from the pan. Once cooled, turn the right side up. Run a knife or spatula along the outside and inside walls of the pan to loosen it. Invert the cake onto a serving plate.

The Upside Down Cooling Method

So, if you read through my instructions thoroughly, you will have noticed that I suggest that you cool your angel food cake upside down. Why? Because this will help make sure that the cake doesn’t collapse as it cools.

This cake is defined by its fluffy texture and shockingly structured composition despite its airiness. When the cake comes out of the oven, that structure is not set yet. Cooling it upside down gives it time to set while ensuring that the weight of the cake does not cause it to fall in.

Overhead of angel food cake topped with and surrounded by fresh berries.

Tips for Success

This cake is wonderfully simple but it does require the baker to pay attention to some important details. Here are a few tips and tricks that will help you achieve the perfect angel food cake.

  • Sift. Be sure to sift the dry ingredients thoroughly. I recommend sifting them 5 times upon combining them and then again as you add them to the egg white mixture. This will eliminate any lumps from the mixture, which will help you achieve a smooth, silky cake. It will also keep the dry ingredients light and airy, making them easier to incorporate into the egg mixture and, by so doing, help prevent you from over-mixing and knocking volume out of the egg whites.
  • Room temperature egg whites. Another crucial step in ensuring the egg whites whip up properly is making sure that they are at room temperature. So, after separating the whites from the yolks, allow the whites to come to room temperature before whipping them up.
  • Yolk-free egg whites. All of the rise in this cake comes from the air whipped into the egg whites, so it’s super important that they whip up properly. How? First, make sure the whites are 100% fresh and yolk-free. I recommend separating each white into a separate bowl before adding it to the rest of the whites to minimize waste in case of an error. Do this when the eggs are cold. It’s just easier.
  • Grease-free. When separating and whipping the egg yolks, it is important that any bowls and utensils you use are completely grease free. I suggest avoiding plastic bowls (they hold onto grease) and maybe even wiping everything down with lemon juice before you get started. Any grease left behind will get in the way of the egg whites’ ability to whip up properly.
  • Mix gently and not too much. When folding the dry ingredients into the egg white mixture, do so gently and only until they are just incorporated into the batter. No more. Over-mixing and/or mixing too aggressively can cause the air to be knocked out of the freshly whipped egg whites, leaving you with a flat angel food cake.
  • Don’t grease the pan. Greasing the pan can interfere with the way the cake rises. So resist the temptation. Unfortunately, this can make it tricky to get the cake out of the pan. Be patient and allow it to cool for at least 1 hour before running a knife around the edges and center of the pan to loosen it. It should come out just fine.
  • Upside-down cooling. Be sure to turn the cake upside down immediately after removing it from the oven. Allow it to cool upside down for at least 1 hour. See the section above titled “The Upside Down Cooling Method” for more information.
  • Slice carefully. Slice the cake with a serrated knife and use a careful sawing motion. It’s a delicate dessert and easy to smash.

What to Serve with Homemade Angel Food Cake

Angel food cake has a wonderfully subtle sweetness to it that allows it to pair beautifully with a number of tasty toppings. Here are some of my favorite things to serve it with. Feel free to try one at a time or to combine several to make the ultimate dessert.

Angel food cake on a cake stand topped with and surrounded by fresh berries.

FAQs

What Does Angel Food Cake Taste Like?

Angel food cake has a subtle vanilla flavor. It is sweet, but not overpowering.

Is angel food cake gluten free?

Angel food cake is made with cake flour or all purpose flour, so it is not gluten free. However, you can find gluten free versions of angel food cake.

How to Store

If you find yourself with leftover angel food cake, seal it in an airtight cake carrier or a similar large airtight container and store it at room temperature for up to 4 days. If you do not have a container large enough to fit the entire cake, cut it into sections before sealing in airtight containers. You can also wrap the cake in a double layer of plastic wrap.

Can You Freeze Angel Food Cake?

You can! I suggest cutting the cake into slices. Wrap each slice in a double layer of plastic wrap before placing it into a large Ziplock bag or airtight container along with the other wrapped slices. Remove as much air as possible from the container and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.

When you are ready to enjoy, remove the wrapped cake slices from the container and place them in the refrigerator to thaw. Unwrap them gently and serve with your favorite topping/s.

More Classic Cake Recipes

Almost everyone loves cake. It’s a classic dessert that we often associate with some sort of celebration or another. I adore all things cake and think that it’s impossible to have too many cake recipes under your belt. Once you are done trying this recipe, take a look at some of these other classics.

See How To Make Angel Food Cake

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Overhead of angel food cake with a slice taken out of it topped with and surrounded by fresh berries.
Recipe

Angel Food Cake

  • Author: Lindsay Conchar
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 70 minutes
  • Yield: 10-12 slices
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

You can make the Best Angel Food Cake ever with just six ingredients! This cake is light, airy and SO much better than any store-bought version! Follow my recipe and tips to get the ultimate Angel Food Cake!


Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup – 1 cup (98g-130g) cake flour OR all purpose flour*
  • 1 3/4 cups (362g) sugar, divided
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups egg whites, room temperature (about 1012 large egg whites)*
  • 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and have an ungreased tube pan.
  2. Combine half of the sugar (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons or 181g), flour and salt and sift them together 5 times. Set aside.
  3. Whip egg whites with a mixer on low speed until they get frothy, then add the cream of tartar and vanilla extract.
  4. Increase speed to medium and continue whipping, adding remaining sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Wait 5-10 seconds between each addition to give time for the sugar to incorporate.
  5. Increase to medium-high speed and whip until it reaches stiff peaks.
  6. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour mixture into the egg whites 1/4 cup at a time. Sift the flour mixture again as you add it to the egg whites. Repeat until all the flour mixture has been added.
  7. Pour the batter into the ungreased pan and smooth evenly, then run a knife through the batter to break up any air bubbles. I like to run it around the outside wall and inside wall of the pan as well. Air bubbles that sit against the sides of the pan can give it little air pockets on the edges once baked.
  8. Bake until lightly golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 28-30 minutes.
  9. Immediately after removing from the oven, turn the cake upside down to cool. Your tube pan should have little feet to rest on white it cools. Allow it to cool for about an 1 hour.
  10. Once cooled, turn it right side up and run a knife or spatula along the outside and inside walls of the pan to loosen it. Invert the cake onto a serving plate.
  11. Slice the cake with a serrated knife and use a careful sawing motion so that you don’t smash the cake. Serve as is or with fresh fruit, whipped cream or other toppings. Cake is best when stored at room temperature in an air tight container for 3-4 days.

Notes

*Please see my notes in the post about cake flour vs. all purpose flour. As for the range of amount of flour: If you’re serving the cake simply as a cake, I would use 3/4 cup of flour. It’s especially light that way. But if you’re going to use the angel food cake in something like a trifle and need it to be a little more substantial, then go with 1 cup.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 160
  • Sugar: 29.4 g
  • Sodium: 99.6 mg
  • Fat: 0.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 35.6 g
  • Protein: 4.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

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Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29