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Perfect Angel Food Cake

Perfect Angel Food Cake

It was pointed out in this article, that when Cooks Illustrated standards diverge from your own, you can end up being a bit disappointed with their recipes. I have found this to be a true assessment on several occasions, though the recipes themselves are excellent. There are some types of food where the likelihood of this happening is very low. Cakes are a good example as I have yet to meet someone who wants a dry, non-tender cake. Flavors can easily be altered, but the foundation of the cake is very important and I have found The Best Recipe to be a great resource.

This angel food cake recipe is a great example of a “best recipe”. It is moist, tender, not overly sweet and ethereally light. I could have eaten the entire thing in one sitting – which was a shock and all the store bought angelfood cakes I’ve had taste like sweet styrofoam and even ones I have made before have not turned out this well, though I do like the individual spiced angel food.

I slightly differed from the recipe by using superfine sugar, also known as castor sugar, instead of granulated because I fine it produces smoother meringues. I also did not use lemon juice/extract in the cake. I used vanilla paste – you can spot the beans in the photo if you look very closely – and almond extract to flavor the cake and served it with orange and lemon curds. Lemon curd is always a nice, tart contrast with angel food cake. The orange curd was made by substituting orange for lemon in the same recipe. It tasted marvelously sweet and smooth, rather like a creamsicle. It paired with this angel food even better than the lemon curd did.

I like to make it the night before and take it out of the pan the next day, so this can be prepared a day in advance. Use a serrated knife to slice it. This cake will be making appearances at my table more than once this summer. I’m already thinking about pairing it with balsamic strawberries.

The Best Angel Food Cake

adapted slightly from The Best Recipe

1 1/2 cups egg whites (10-12 large), room temperature

1 1/2 cups superfine sugar, divided

1 cup sifted cake flour

1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste

1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 325F.

In a small bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar and the cake flour. Set aside.

Beat egg whites until frothy, the add cream of tartar and salt. Beat until fully incorporated then begin to add the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar 1-2 tablespoons at a time. When sugar has been added, beat egg whites to soft peaks. You will know when you have soft peaks because the egg whites will look like soft waves and when you lift the beaters, the peaks will droop back down into the batter. If your batter is falling in ribbons, it is not quite down. Don’t be afraid to slow down the mixer and check a few times as you get close. Do not beat all the way to stiff peaks. Once you have soft peaks, add the vanilla and almond extracts and beat for a few seconds to evenly distribute.

Sift the flour/sugar mixture over the egg whites in 6-8 additions (depending on your proficiency with folding flour into egg whites) and gently fold it in after each addition. It is better to take your time and do it gently than to rush and deflate the egg whites.

Spoon batter into an ungreased 9 inch tube pan with a removeable bottom. Smooth the top with a spatula and tap the pan on the counter once or twice to ensure that there are no large bubbles lurking beneath the surface.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the top springs back when lightly pressed. Mine took 55 minutes.

Remove from oven an invert pan over a bottle. Allow to cool completely or overnight.

Gently run a thin knife around the sides, then around the bottom, of the pan to release the cake when you are ready to serve it.

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85 Comments
  • shanie
    July 9, 2010

    can chiffon cake be made in a normal cake tin without a hole

  • Bruce
    December 23, 2010

    What type of bottle fits inside the cone on a tube cake pan? All bottles these days are plastic and they melt. I have beer bottles but the necks aren’t straight and the cake falls over.
    Thanks for the help.

  • Priya
    January 31, 2011

    A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! JUST MADE PINEAPPLE PASTRY USING THIS CAKE RECIPE..CAME OUT DIVINE

  • Neko
    June 9, 2011

    Bruce – have you tried using a wine bottle?

  • Selma
    March 28, 2012

    I made the cake several times, tried it twice yesteray, the cake raises above pan, then 5-7 minutes later, starts falling (in the oven) what am I doing wrong?

    Thanx
    Selma

  • Nancy
    April 1, 2012

    I just cooked my first angel food cake. It was delicious and texture was great. The only thing was that when it came out all the crust came off the side of the cake leaving it white. That is okay I just think it looks better with the crust on the side. I did invert it but maybe not high enough to get lots of air in and around cake. Can anyone tell me what I did wrong? I did not grease the sides of the pan…did put a little spray just on the bottom of the pan. Again, I was very satisfied with the texture.
    HELP!

  • Nicole
    April 1, 2012

    Nancy – You were right that the sides of the pan should not be greased. If you want to get more of the browned “crust” on the sides of your cake, use a long thin knife or offset spatula and scrape the sides of your pan when removing the cake. Most of the time, with angel food cakes, that browned exterior does remain in the pan, so you just need to be diligent when taking out the cake if you want to keep it on.

  • Nancy
    April 1, 2012

    Thank you, Nicole….you made me feel better. I didn’t realize that most of the browned exterior usually stays in the pan…stuck to the pan. Can I ask what you use to invert your cakes? I could not find anything to fit that hole and remain stable. Somewhere, today, I read that inverting a large bowl and putting a cooling rack on top of the bowl would work. Do you think?? I am sticking with this until I am satisfied with my finished product. Your help is appreciated.

  • lucy
    August 21, 2012

    Could you add sprinkles to the cake batter to make a sprinkles cake?

  • Holly
    November 21, 2012

    I’ve been using this recipe for months now. Angel food cake is my dad’s favorite cake so I make it about twice a month. I use to make it from the box but my grandmother made it from scratch so I wanted to learn to make it. It is so moist and delicious, I’ve never tried another recipe.

  • Barry
    February 12, 2013

    Not all store purchased angel food cakes are created equal. If you are in the Dayton Ohio area you can find cakes of exceptional quality at Dorothy Lane markets. They come in a variety of flavors. I like the chocolate chip myself but vanilla goes with anything.

  • Karen
    May 6, 2013

    WAIT…. You forgot to say when the almond extract and the vanilla are added to the cake.

    I’m glad I read and reread the recipe before starting.

    I am going to assume they go in when the eggs are frothy?

    I will check your source recipe ( :

    best,
    Karen

  • Karen
    May 6, 2013

    IGNORE MY LAST COMMENT lol
    THE instructions were there, I just missed them TWICE

    my bad,
    Karen

  • Betty
    June 28, 2013

    Thanks for the recipe. Found the recipe after googling ’10 egg whites’ after using the yolks to make ice cream. I’ve made angel food cake before but it always had an eggy taste which wasn’t that appealing. This one is a lot more moist. I haven’t got the appropriate tin so I just used a round cake tin without a hole and had some left over so put it in some cupcake cases… The cupcakes turned out much better as the big round one lost one third of its size by the time I’d coaxed it out of the tin, upside down on a rack. BUT both versions very tasty and will be making this again the next time I need to use up some eggwhites.

  • katrisha
    July 14, 2013

    Inverting the cake while cooling actually keeps it from loosing it’s head, making for a lighter texture overall. 😀 a poofy angel food cake is the best.

  • Vanessa
    September 1, 2013

    Hi Nicole- I typically weigh my ingredients and was wondering if I can assume that superfine sugar weighs the same as regular sugar. I couldn’t find much about it online. Thank you!

  • Vanessa
    September 2, 2013

    Hi Nicole–I made the cake and it turned out great! Apparently using the same amount of superfine sugar is fine. 🙂 My family liked it and my sister requested the recipe.

  • Jane
    March 14, 2014

    learned to make angel food cake because of this article. U cant go wrong if you followed the recipe as instructed. I was so proud of my self. Xoxo

  • Michelle
    June 24, 2016

    Angel cake recipe. Perfect. Instructions so clear and precise.
    This recipe WORKS!
    And I am not a good Baker.
    Thank you

  • Linda Yonce
    June 12, 2017

    How can you prevent the top from burning, I put it on the bottom rack, cold oven bake at 325 and after about 10 minutes into the bake it starts to blacken on top. Any suggestions on how to prevent this?

  • Nicole
    June 13, 2017

    Hi Linda, It sounds like there may be something wrong with your oven. An angel food cake – or any cake – should not start to blacken only 10 minutes into the bake, especially when your oven is set at 325. An oven thermometer will help gauge if your oven is calibrated correctly, or there may even be something strange going on with the broiler. Good luck. –Nicole

  • Julie
    July 23, 2017

    This really is the best angel food cake recipe I have ever tried. I followed the instructions to a tee and the result was a beautiful, light cake with a yummy crust around the edges. Thank you so much. This recipe is going into my book of best recipes.

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