Angel Food Cake

Using only 6 ingredients, this perfect angel food cake bakes up tall, light, and airy. For best results, follow this recipe and video tutorial closely. The delicate texture can only be achieved with particular ingredients and careful mixing methods.

Angel food cake with berries

Ready for a slice of heaven? We are no stranger to decadent and rich cakes. But what about a cake recipe where butter, fat, and egg yolks run away in fright? Meet angel food cake. Angel food cake is a low fat cake recipe made mostly from egg whites, cake flour, and sugar. It’s pristine white on the inside with a chewy light brown crumb around the exterior. What it lacks in butter makes up for in texture. This tall, tender, and timeless cake has a cloud-like crumb and ultra light flavor.

I’ve published angel food cupcakes and a super fun sprinkle angel food cake on my blog, but now it’s time visit where both originate: classic homemade angel food cake!

Angel food cake slices with strawberries on white plate

Angel Food Cake Video Tutorial

Let’s dive right in. First, here’s a video tutorial where I walk you through each step. The steps and ingredients are pretty straightforward, but it’s always helpful to have a clear visual. 🙂

Top of angel food cake with berries and pink peony flower

6 Angel Food Cake Ingredients

You only need 6 ingredients to make angel food cake. With so little ingredients, understand that each one is imperative to the cake’s final taste and texture. Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Granulated Sugar: The recipe begins with granulated sugar. Pulse it in a food processor to create superfine sugar. Superfine sugar’s granules are the best size to provide optimal structure for angel food cake. It’s not as coarse as granulated sugar and not as fine as confectioners’ sugar. Granulated sugar is simply too coarse, while confectioners’ sugar dissolves too quickly in the egg whites.
  2. Cake Flour: Cake flour is a low protein flour and yields a tender angel food cake. Do not use all-purpose flour because the cake will taste like white bread…! In a pinch, you can use this cake flour substitute. But real cake flour is ideal.
  3. Salt: Adds flavor.
  4. Egg Whites: You’ll notice there’s no baking powder or baking soda. The egg whites are actually the sole leavening ingredient providing all the cake’s rise. Use freshly separated eggs because they aerate the best. Carton egg whites or egg whites that have been frozen won’t expand as much during the whipping process, which will negatively affect the rise of your cake. You’ll have a lot of leftover egg yolks, so make some lemon curd and serve it with the cake!
  5. Cream of Tartar: Cream of tartar is an acid and stabilizes the whipped egg whites, just as it does in my chocolate swirled meringue cookies too. Without it, the cake would collapse. Other acids, such as lemon juice, can work but they aren’t nearly as effective. Cream of tartar is found in the spice aisle and is actually a common baking ingredient. I have many recipes calling for it!
  6. Vanilla Extract: Adds flavor.

Superfine sugar in food processor

How to Make Perfect Angel Food Cake

I’m confident this will be the most perfect angel food cake to ever hit your lips. We can’t achieve angel food cake perfection for free, so make sure you follow these steps closely.

  1. Pulse the granulated sugar into superfine sugar. Use a food processor or blender.
  2. Set 1 cup of the superfine sugar aside. You’ll add it to the egg whites.
  3. Add cake flour and salt to food processor. Pulse them with the remaining sugar. This aerates the dry ingredients.
  4. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar together. Beat on medium-low speed until foamy.
  5. Slowly add 1 cup of superfine sugar. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and pour in the superfine sugar you set aside.
  6. Beat into soft peaks. Whip the egg whites, cream of tartar, and superfine sugar into soft and lofty peaks. This takes at least 5 minutes. After that, add the vanilla.
  7. Sift and fold in dry ingredients. In 3 additions, sift and fold in the dry ingredients.
  8. Pour/spread batter into a tube pan. Do not grease the tube pan. Greasing the pan causes the batter to slip down the sides, preventing it from properly rising. If you already greased it, wash and wipe it completely clean.
  9. Bake at 325°F (163°C). A higher temperature won’t properly cook the cake.
  10. Cool upside down on a wire rack. If cooled upright, the cake’s own weight will crush itself. Cool it upside-down on a cooling rack so it holds its shape and air can reach it.
  11. Run a thin knife around the edges to release. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to help loosen the cake, too.
  12. Slice with a serrated knife. A regular sharp knife squishes the cake.

Can I use a bundt pan for angel food cake? No, do not use a bundt pan for angel food cake. You’ll have a very hard time getting it out in one piece. You need a tube pan which has a flat bottom and straight sides. If you don’t have one, I recommend this tube pan. It’s relatively inexpensive for its great quality. Though it’s labeled as nonstick, the coating is VERY thin and has never been an issue for my angel food cakes.

And good news: here’s a helpful trick for how to bake angel food cake without a tube pan.

2 images of cake flour in measuring cups and food processor

You need 1 cup (16 Tablespoons) + 2 Tablespoons of cake flour. Sounds like an odd amount, but 18 Tablespoons is the precise quantity to bring enough structure to the cake.

2 images of whipped egg whites on a whisk attachment and in glass bowl

Soft Peaks, Not Stiff Peaks

Remember, whip the egg whites into soft peaks. (Pictured above.) Soft peaks don’t hold a stiff shape. Instead, they “wilt” back into the mixture after a few seconds. Soft peaks are the optimum consistency because they’ll continue to expand in the oven. Stiff peaks, on the other hand, means that the egg whites have been over-whipped for angel food cake and will likely collapse in the oven.

Important to remember: Don’t let a drop of egg yolks into the mixing bowl. Any lingering fat could prevent the egg whites from forming peaks at all. Crack eggs over an egg separator into a small bowl, then add the whites one-by-one into the mixing bowl. This way if the yolk breaks, it doesn’t break directly in the mixing bowl.

2 images of angel food cake batter in mixing bowl and tube pan

Sift the dry ingredients over the beaten egg whites in a few additions, gently folding together after each addition. The goal is to retain as much of the whipped volume as possible. Pouring the dry ingredients on top all at once will quickly deflate the egg whites.

2 images of angel food cake cooling in pan and pan upside down on cooling rack

The Magic is in the Details

I’ve thrown a lot of information at you in this post, so here’s a quick summary of all the important success tips. Remember that the magic is all in the details.

  1. Use freshly separated egg whites.
  2. Pulse granulated sugar into superfine sugar.
  3. Whip egg whites into soft peaks, not stiff peaks.
  4. Sift and gently fold in dry ingredients.
  5. Do not grease the tube pan.
  6. Cool the cake upside-down on a wire rack.
  7. Use a serrated knife to slice.

Helpful Tools

Want to make angel food cupcakes? I have you covered. 🙂

angel food cupcakes topped with berries

Angel food cake doesn’t need to hide under frosting, but tastes blissful with fresh berries and a dollop of whipped cream! Feel free to dust the top with confectioners’ sugar, too. If you enjoy these flavors together, you’ll love my fresh berry cream cake. (Which, if I’m being honest, isn’t quite as fussy as this cake!)

I know what you’re thinking: is this cake really worth it? The answer is YES. Angel food cake boasts a texture like no other and once you go through the process, you’ll understand the preparation isn’t that difficult– it’s just a little picky. 😉 Let’s do this!

Angel food cake on marble cake stand

Print
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Angel food cake with berries

Angel Food Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: serves 10-12
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Using only 6 ingredients, this perfect angel food cake bakes up tall, light, and airy. For best results, read the recipe in full before beginning and have all your ingredients ready to go. Enjoy! 


Ingredients

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar*
  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons (135g) cake flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 large egg whites, at room temperature*
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • optional: confectioners’ sugar for dusting, whipped cream, and berries

Instructions

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position and preheat oven to 325°F (163°C).
  2. In a food processor or blender, pulse the sugar until fine and powdery. Remove 1 cup and set aside to use in step 3; keep the rest inside the food processor. Add the cake flour and salt to the food processor. Pulse 5-10 times until sugar/flour/salt mixture is aerated and light.
  3. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip egg whites and cream of tartar together on medium-low until foamy, about 1 minute. Switch to medium-high and slowly add the 1 cup of sugar you set aside. Whip until soft peaks form, about 5-6 minutes. See photo and video above for a visual. Add the vanilla extract, then beat just until incorporated.
  4. In 3 additions, slowly sift the flour mixture into the egg white mixture using a fine mesh strainer, gently folding with a rubber spatula after each addition. To avoid deflating or a dense cake, don’t add the flour mixture all at once. Sift and very slowly fold in several additions. This is important! Pour and spread batter into an ungreased 9 or 10 inch tube pan. Shimmy the pan on the counter to smooth down the surface.
  5. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through baking. The cake will rise up very tall while baking. Remove from the oven, then cool the cake completely upside-down set on a wire rack, about 3 hours. (Upside-down so the bottom of the tube pan is right-side up, see photo and video above.) Once cooled, run a thin knife around the edges and gently tap the pan on the counter until the cake releases.
  6. If desired, dust with confectioners’ sugar. Slice the cake with a sharp serrated knife. Regular knives can easily squish the cake. Serve with whipped cream and fresh berries.
  7. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare the angel food cake one day in advance, then cover tightly and store at room temperature overnight. Angel food cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before serving.
  2. Sugar: In this recipe, you use granulated sugar and pulse it in a food processor to make superfine sugar. If you have superfine sugar or caster sugar, use that. Pulse 3/4 cup of it with the dry ingredients in step 2. Use 1 cup of it in step 3.
  3. Egg Whites: I strongly recommend using fresh real egg whites instead of egg white substitutes, previously frozen egg whites, or egg whites from a carton. Separate the eggs when they’re cold, then bring the egg whites to room temperature. Fresh room temperature egg whites whip into the fluffiest volume. With the extra yolks, make lemon curd or some of these recipes.
  4. Pan: An angel food cake pan (aka tube pan) is imperative. Do not use a bundt pan. Angel food cake’s structure and stability requires the tube pan’s particular specifications. Some angel food cake pans come with little feet, which makes cooling the cake upside down easy. If your pan has feet, no need to use a wire rack. Whether your tube pan has feet or not, cool the cake upside down as directed in step 5.

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Keywords: cake, whipped cream

Angel food cake on marble cake stand

474 Comments

  1. I never knew angel food cake could be so heavenly! My husband always said it was his favorite but I never realized why until I tried this recipe. Thanks for all the great instructions. I’ve made it several times successfully but the last 2 times it came out way too moist. Any thoughts? Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Kate! I’m so glad to read how much you enjoy this angel food cake recipe. I wonder if the weather (humidity) is making the last 2 batches taste a little moist. The warmer air as the cake cools, perhaps. A couple extra minutes of baking in the oven could help.

  2. Just a question, I love this recipe, it is my favorite all time angel food cake. I was wondering if I wanted to make a chocolate angel food, would I have to use less flour for the cocoa addition or just add the cocoa. I have looked at lots of chocolate angel food recipes and lots of regular angel food cake recipes and it seems to me the amounts of flour and sugar vary a lot from recipe to recipe, I think this recipe hit the jackpot. The amounts of sugar, flour and cocoa vary a lot in recipes too, from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup, very confusing.

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Barb, we haven’t tested a chocolate angel food cake. If you try it, let us know how it goes!

      1. The chocolate angel food cake was excellent, I gave half to my cousin and she and her husband loved it. I used your recipe and just added 1/4 cup plus 1 T of cocoa along with the flour. The result was a nice rich chocolate, not too sweet and nice and moist. Really good with some fresh blackberries from my patch and whipped cream! I debated removing some of the flour, but it didn’t really need it.

  3. I love the recipe, but the way that it is presented is difficult to navigate. For example, one section reads “save some of the sugar aside,” and then another section reads “save 1 cup of sugar aside” ; one section refers to vanilla, and the other doesn’t. The two extra table spoons of flour is confusing too. Luckily I did a large scoop. I hope that it turns out o.k. It was delicious last time.

    1. I have to agree with Sherry. I realize the responsibility it is on the baker to read the recipe through in its entirety before starting–which we mostly did (a little challenging baking with small children :)–but I still got tripped up with setting the sugar aside. Most times I’ve seen it, it is listed in the ingredients as “3/4 cup + 1 cup, divided” or something like that. Just this one little addition to the recipe would help a lot, I think! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Can I substitute the sugar for a sugar free cake?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Linda, We have not tested this recipe with a sugar substitute but let us know if you try.

  5. I was hopeful this would work because of all the positives reviews I followed the recipe very carefully because I know it can be tricky. Unfortunately although the toothpick came clean when I checked to see if cake was done it fell out of the pan when I inverted it on a cooling rack. I am wondering if this is due to the fact that I am at a high altitude of 4,500 feet.
    I was very disappointed. I will keep searching for a recipe that works. This wasn’t the one. I didn’t grease angel food tube cake pan nor did I use a non stick angel food cake pan.

  6. My husband out of the blue said he wanted an angel food cake for his birthday and I have never tackled one before. I looked over a ton of recipes and this one looked the most promising! Made it tonight along with your whipped topping recipe- so delicious!! I had 2 problems- one was self sabotaging… I ordered the special pan, but when I got it- it was only 7″ so I saw your angel food cupcakes and threw the remainder into them. But they were more dense and did not rise as much… My other problem was folding in the dry ingredients, I tried not tonmix too much, but kept finding spots of dry ingredients when I was pooring into the cake pan! How do you know you mixed enough without overmixing?

  7. Lance Haverkamp says:

    FYI: The high altitude adjustment is to the whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. No other adjustment required.

    1. Not bad, but i found the cake to be too sweet and it came out more moist then I’m used to.

  8. Can i use pasteurized white egg instead of fresh egg? And if I can, how much I need in grams ?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Leen, Carton egg whites don’t whip up to nearly the same volume. You can try to use them, but the results will differ from the intended texture and pictured cake. See recipe notes for details on egg whites.

  9. I chose this recipe for the September baking challenge because I had already been making so much bread and I’ve been wanting to try to make angel food cake. This recipe did not disappoint!! I will absolutely make it again. I made your strawberry sauce recipe, but I made it a mixed berry, to top it and also some homemade whipped cream. The family loved it!! Thanks for the recipe!!

  10. My tube pan is 2 pieces (the center comes out from the outer part… if that makes sense… Can I use this or do I need to get a tube pan that doesn’t separate? Thanks so much!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lisa, This cake was baked in a two piece tube pan (the pan Sally owns in linked above) It’s MUCH easier to remove the cake from the pan when the tube pan separates!

  11. I have made 3 different recipes from scratch and yours was the 3rd and the charm. I watched the video first and then made just as instructed. Came out perfect. This will be my go to from now on. Thank you so much. With much love from SW Minnesota.

  12. Michelle zajichek says:

    Can you recommend a frosting for this cake. My son is 31 and I always make him a frosted angel food cake for his birthday! I’ve never made one from scratch . I usually frost it and write his name on top ect!!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Michelle, Personally I love this cake with just a drizzle of chocolate ganache on top (there are directions in the post to whip it if you wish to pipe with it). But you can really use any frosting recipe that you or your son enjoys!

  13. I find the cake a bit too sweet

  14. I usually don’t leave reviews, but I want to say that this angel food cake was too sweet (and I like sweets)! Followed the recipe exactly and the texture was great, but the cake had a taste of almost marshmallow. Have had great angel food cake in the past, sadly this was not the recipe for me.

  15. I love the look of your fresh berry cake but have a specific request for angel food cake. Do you think this angel food cake would be firm enough to layer with cream and berries? I was thinking maybe just two layers. Thanks!! I’ve made so many of your recipes 🙂

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lynn, We love serving this cake with fresh berries and whipped cream. The batter is too light to mix berries into before baking, but it’s lovely to serve together after it’s baked!

  16. Hi, I’ve made this a few times. Why is it that sometimes a part of the cake or the whole cake really separates from the pan as it’s cooling making it lopsided? Also, the middle part kind of pulls into itself sometimes making the whole cake look like a mushroom once it’s removed from the pan? How do i make sure it’s all nice and level on the sides? Thanks!

  17. I’ve made quite a few Angel Food cakes, but this recipe is THE BEST! Thank you, Sally, for sharing these tips. Definitely made the cake extra special!

  18. Some people have commented that some of the cake separates from the bottom when cooling. Some angel food cake pans have ears on the outside rim that are higher than the tube in the middle. When the cake is turned upside down for cooling, the bottom is not supported because the central tube does not touch the rack. With a pan like that the cake may pull apart when cooled on a rack.

    My mother taught me to turn an angel food cake upside down and insert the center tube onto the neck of a bottle for cooling. With that method the cake will not pull apart.

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