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

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

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 some 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.
  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.

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.

Whipped egg whites

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.

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.

Angel food cake cooling in pan

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.

Angel food cake on marble cake stand

Helpful Tools

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

angel food cupcake

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.

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
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 (130g) 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

349 Comments

  1. Like a few others, my cake fell out of the pan! Dang! Lol. I’m still going to eat it though. This is the first time I’ve ever had it happen and I’ve made many angel food cakes.

    1. This is very close to the recipe that my mother and grandmother used, it’s very very good and no angel food aficionado would Have any issue with this. One slight addition is to add a teaspoon of almond extract with the vanilla. Which is a flavor my family loves.

  2. Same thing happened to my cake! Took it out of her oven and turned it upside down and it fell onto the rack and of course collapsed in itself. It was an aluminum not greased pan. Why? I do live in the mountains so maybe it could have baked longer?

    1. Hi Martha! I suspect the high altitude could be the culprit and I apologize, I have no experience baking at high altitude. Under-baking could be the cause as well, which is an easy fix for next time.

      1. I have made this recipe about three different times. I, too, live in high altitude, but never had a problem with this recipe. Weather makes a difference also. If in doubt, I have added 1-2 T. of extra flour. This recipe is easy and fun to make. The texture and flavor is out of this world! I highly recommend anyone to give this a try. In fact, I am making another today. You can not get this flavor anywhere in a store. Home made Angel Food Cake is so much better. Sally, all recipes so far that I have tried on your blog has been awesome. So farrr……ENJOY! Happy New Year Sally

    2. I have learned with angel food cake (the hard way!) that at 325 my angel food cakes are always baked at least 50 minutes to be thoroughly baked. I have even been baking them at 350 but I read somewhere yesterday that 325 was optimal. I’ll have to experiment and read around but definitely increase your baking time.

      1. I also had to bake mine 10-15 minutes longer then the recipe but it was well worth it-and rotate in the oven while baking. But yummy!!

  3. Can I use a regular spring form pan, I made the batter and do not have time to go to the store, I think I’m going to try that. As I’ve made sponge cake in it before

  4. Wow! My first angel food cake from scratch in many decades. Excellent!’s. So amazingly light and fluffy! I was skeptical. Now I’m impressed. However it was eaten so fast that I forgot to take picture.

  5. I’ve made this before, once, extremely successfully! Loved it! Tonight, I’m making a “sugar free” version.. it’s in the oven now!

    I’ll let y’all know how it turns out!

    (I had 12 extra egg whites after making 2 deep dish chocolate pies, and meringue is out because it’s about to rain! So I thought I’d make angel food cake for my diabetic mom for Thanksgiving tomorrow!)

  6. I really appreciate your website. I love baking and using your recipes,videos and tips make me seem like I really know what I’m doing. My husband doesn’t like anything but pie, my most difficult baking activity so I make other things and give them to neighbors. My only son watches his weight all the time, so the neighbors are the benefactors. My daughter in law make wonderful pie crusts, but will not give me the recipe. I trust that your recipes, if followed to the letter will be great! Thank you so much.

      1. I made the pie crust that was the first one I saw of yours that had 5 stars and it turned out great! The apple pie filling I used was not that great, it was not yours, but it had 5 stars and it was a cooked filling recipe so I thought it would be good. It really wasn’t anything to cheer about, but the crust was spectacular I think. My husband loved it! Again, Thank You.

  7. Wow – I followed the recipe exactly and mine turned out great! I’ve often had problems with making angel food cake and this was the best result yet. It was picture perfect and tasted great.

  8. This cake turned out wonderful. It came out exactly how I wanted and the directions were easy to follow. I served it with just some berries and fresh whipped cream and everyone loved it. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Waaaah my cake didn’t rise I don’t know what I did wrong. Love your recipes. Not blaming you. I’m sure it was my mistake. Any pointers though? I followed the directions exactly. My only question was to clarify “freshly separated” eggs at room temp but cold eggs separate easier. So I separated cold eggs then let the whites sit to room temperature. Did I do this incorrectly?

    1. Hi Sarah! You separated the eggs correctly. When I mean is– don’t separate the eggs 1 day, then bake the cake the next day. Have them freshly separated, then you can bring them to room temperature if they were straight from the refrigerator. For rising, make sure you aren’t deflating those egg whites at all during the mixing process. Use superfine sugar and fold the dry ingredients in in 3 separate additions. Finally, do not grease the pan. I hope all of this can help for next time! You can also try my angel food cupcakes, too!

  10. I followed the recipe to the letter! The cake turned out beautifully! I only gave it four stars because I did not get to taste the cake once it was cooked because it was given to someone who requested it. However the batter tasted good! If I can figure out how to upload a picture I will! Thanks for the detailed instructions and explanations!

  11. I was so excited making this today and it looked beautiful throughout the whole process. I wish I would have read the comments before baking as I think I under baked mine a little as the cake slide out of the pan when I put it upside down so it collapsed on itself. Ugh! It came out clean when I did the poke test, but just barely. For me, it’s a good experience for it not to be perfect as I know what to watch out for next time! Thanks for the great tutorial!

  12. First time making. Thank you for the recipe. It was simple, it looked absolutely beautiful on the plate, and most importantly, very delicious. This recipe is a keeper and one I know I make again. Thank you again!

  13. Family of three, I got ONE small slice before it was gone! Family loved it, said it was like eating cotton candy.
    My grandmother used to make Angel food cake for every birthday. This surpasses hers ( forgive me grandma). Now on to noodle recepies for the yolks. We always received cake and noodles on our birthdays. Glad to keep the tradition alive!

  14. Turned out great!! This was my first angel food cake and I’m very happy with the outcome!! **Note for others in a bind without the proper pan….you can use any other cake pan as long as it’s NOT a non-stick and you just put a can (i used a tea-drink one), hold the can in the middle so it doesn’t move as you pour the batter around it! Worked great! I pulled the can out before turning upside down to cool.

  15. Is there a reason you use room temperature eggs? I know that cold eggs are easier to separate, but I also read somewhere that cold egg whites whip to higher peaks. My cake is cooling and I cannot wait to see how it compares to the King Arthur Flour recipe, my previous favorite. I did have to bake it a little longer to get the top to brown, hopefully it didn’t overtake. I appreciated having flour and sugar measurements already converted into grams.

  16. Light and fluffy, just as you describe! Thanks for a great recipe. We’ll use this one from now on. Loved it with strawberries and whipped cream.

  17. First off I will say I’m not the greatest when it comes to baking your recipes and tutorials have helped me tremendously! So Thank You for that.
    I made this cake in rembremce of my dad & to celebrate whatcwpukd of been my dads 90th Birthday. Angel food cake was his all time favorite.
    I did add the funfetti because it was his birthday. I opted for fresh fruit and whip cream. The cake turned out perfect. Ever one was pleased with the results! So Thank you for sharing your recipes.

  18. I made this for the very first time for my friends birthday . She remembered her mom’s and grandmother’s angel food cakes which were made fro, mixes. I bake from scratch because like to know what is in it! So I followed your recipe and even though I though I over whipped the egg whites it came out perfectly. I did use some almond extract along with the vanilla. everyone was impressed. I was too! Thank you for your explanations, videos and science; it helps me appreciate the art of baking.

    1. Hi Jennifer, you need a tube pan for this recipe, not a bundt pan. I link to the tube pan I own and use in the post above. If you don’t have a tube pan this is a great hack: https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/turn-any-cake-pan-into-angel-food-cake-pan-article
      Or you can make Angel Food Cupcakes instead.

  19. Do you have a cup measurement of how many egg whites to use? I want to make an angel food cake to use up some of my surplus of eggs (our chickens are laying like crazy!) but my eggs can vary in size quite a bit & I thought an actual measurement might be helpful. Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Marissa! It’s hard to say exactly, but generally 7-8 egg whites yields 1 cup. You need 12, so it would be around 1 and 1/2 cups.

  20. This is the best angel food cake recipe I have ever made, and that is saying a lot because I do make them often! The cake rose past the top of the pan, is tender and tasty. The only thing I changed was to all 1/4 tsp almond extract, something my family always did with angel food cake. I have never had one rise to such a delightful height, and the texture is perfect! I made lemon curd and raspberry curd to go with the cake, but it is perfect without the additions! Thank you!

  21. I made this cake for my wife’s birthday. This was my first time making a cake from scratch it turned out beautiful great recipe easy to follow!
    Thanks

  22. i dont have cake flour just unbleached and all purpose , i looked up and it says for every 1 1cup i can add 2 tbsp cornstarch > is this correct? ans i dont have cream of tarter but i can substitute lemon juice ?

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