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

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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 (133g) 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

488 Comments

  1. Can I make this cake a day ahead?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Deb, absolutely. You can prepare the angel food cake one day in advance, then cover tightly and store at room temperature overnight. Enjoy!

  2. Tanya Nelson says:

    I have never had issues with angel food cake sliding out of the pan when it’s turned upside down, and I’ve made it many times. When I was reading several comments about this happening to others, I thought it was a bit strange. Well, guess what happened to my cake? I turned it upside down and within a few minutes it promptly fell right out onto the counter top!! The only thing that I did differently from my previous times making angel food cake, was to use this recipe and I also used farm fresh eggs. And, of course, I did NOT grease the pan.

    1. Same thing happened to mine. . I’m going to try again this morning.

  3. Hello! I’m planning to make an 8 inch layered angel food cake (requested by a client). Would this recipe work for layered cakes? I’m thinking I’d need to double the recipe but hoping you can provide some guidance. Thank you!!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Meredith, That’s a great question! We do recommend sticking with a tube pan, but we really haven’t tried baking this batter in smaller cake pans for a layered cake. However, you could assemble a layered cake from this baked and cooled angel food cake (baked in a traditional tube pan). Use a serrated knife to cut into layers and fill with whipped cream.

  4. I would like to try this recipe. Do you have a weight for the egg whites instead of 12 large? I already have a quart of them (not store bought) to use up! Thanks!!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Doria, an egg white is usually about 30g, so you’ll need 360g for this recipe. Enjoy!

  5. Hi! Do you think I can half the ingredients for a 7in tube pan or maybe use the ingredients for the angel food cupcakes for that size pan? Or use the ingredients above but only fill the pan 3/4 full? Thank you!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Teresa, we haven’t tested either recipe in a 7inch tube pan, but don’t see why it wouldn’t work! Careful not to overfill – you could make a cupcake or two with extra batter.

  6. I am planning to make this for my daughters birthday cake! She requested that I add blueberries. Any tips? Fresh vs frozen? Quantity? Thanks!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lex, 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!

  7. Hi Sally.
    I just wanted you to know that I’ve made this cake twice now with Steve’s GF Cake Flour and it turns out yummy every time. As a matter of fact, I make all your recipes with GF cup-for-cup flour and they turn out perfect every time. My family and I love every recipe of yours.

  8. Hi…planning to make this angel food cake, but don’t have a non stick tube pan (it’s an old one)! Do I need to purchase a non stick pan?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Andrea! Your tube pan should be just fine for this recipe. Hope you love it!

      1. Thank you! I’ll give it a try☺️

  9. Hi, what can I use as a substitute for cream of tartar?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kinjal, You can make a 1:1 substitution with lemon juice but keep in mind it’s not nearly as effective.

  10. Could I have used the convection setting for this cake?

    Took the first cake out after 45 min at 325 and the top was white but the toothpick came out clean so I turned it upside down to cool and it fell out. I had extra eggs so was able to made a second. Left it in until the top was golden and there were deep white cracks (57 min at 325) maybe my oven runs cool. They both tasted great though the first trial was obviously underdone and dense. The second was perfect and soft.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jill! We don’t suggest baking this delicate cake with convection settings. We always recommend using an in-oven thermometer for the most accurate results! Most ovens run hot or cold. Thanks so much for making this recipe!

  11. Hi, I’ve been asked to make a rainbow angel food cake. Does this cake react well to additions like food colouring? Also, am I able to add icing and other decorations on top like a regular cake?

    Thanks!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Frances, we haven’t tested it but you should be able to fold in food coloring at the very end of mixing. You can definitely add decorations on top like we did in this Party Angel Food Cake Recipe. Would love to hear how it goes for you.

  12. Hi, is it possible to use caster sugar instead of blitzing the granulated sugar?
    Thanks!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sophie, absolutely! 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.

  13. Can this recipe be made gluten free? Can a 1 for 1 mix be substituted for the flour? Or can you send a GF version?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Beth, we haven’t tested a gluten-free version of this cake. If you do, we’d love to know how it turns out for you!

      1. I’ve made it with Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free flour and it turned out great!

  14. Hi Sally, I have the Norpro mini angel food cake pan (6 linking pans), and was wondering if your recipe would work in these, and if any modifications would be needed.
    I love your videos and recipes, and use them almost exclusively. Thank you so much for sharing your baking skills!

  15. I would love to make it less sweet, will reducing the sugar in 1/2 alter the texture or anything else?Thanks!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Deb, We don’t recommend reducing the sugar. With so few ingredients each one plays a crucial role! Beyond taste, sugar is also used for moisture and texture in baked goods.

      1. Thanks for your reply!

      2. Sceleratus says:

        Hello,
        What a wonderful blog! It’s a great resource for beginners like myself. My fourth Angel food cake is in the oven as I type. Cakes 1-3 were awesome. Great taste. #1 was exceptionally tall. Im writing because the final step confuses me. Fold the dry ingredients into the beaten egg whites. But it says nothing about dissolving the dry ingredients. The two tasks are mutually exclusive. You can’t be gentle with the egg whites and dissolve the dry ingredients. Maybe it doesn’t matter but it does in most cases. I’ll bet you covered this in a question someplace, but I’m thinking it should be in the instructions. Many thanks. Luke

  16. Hi Sally
    I enjoy baking and always look to improve my skills. When a friends birthday wish was to enjoy strawberry short cake, I found your angel food cake recipe and created the shortcake from that. Just want to share, that your recipe was amazing, very detailed and spot on. Because of your accurate recipe, and I followed it completely, my first ever angel food cake turned out, airy, delicious and everyone absolutely loved it.
    thank you so much. Terrific recipe.

    1. It was your comment that convinced me this was the recipe to try. Thank you so much! You were not kidding when you said if you follow this recipe to a T it will turn out perfectly. Goodness this is amazing!

  17. This cake came out perfectly! Beautiful texture and taste. I followed the instructions exactly andI was very pleased with the results. Thank you for the recipe.

  18. INCREDIBLE!! PERFECTION!! I can only take credit for following your directions exactly as given!! I am so thankful I did, from putting the sugar in the food processor to pulsing and combining the sugar and flour portion, to using regular egg whites and not store-bought egg whites. I made not one, but two of these for my husband’s birthday strawberry shortcake, and every bite of these was enjoy to the fullest! Everybody raved about how incredible this angel food cake is! I could try to describe it but just trust me, from every angle this cake is perfection and you will never buy one from the store again! (I swapped 1/4 tsp vanilla for 1/4 tsp almond extract because of preference.) you made me feel like a professional. I’ve heard all the nightmares of attempting homemade Angel food cake.
    Listen.
    Make this now.
    You’ll only regret not.
    Wow!!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Thank you so much for this rave review, SaraAnne. We’re so glad you loved this angel food cake!

  19. Is it possible to use 12 extra large egg whites or will that mess up the recipe??

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Isabelle, we don’t recommend it — that will result it too much egg white volume. For best results, we recommend using large egg whites.

  20. I am so excited to tray and make this Angel Food cake. I was thinking of using lemon extract and lemon zest. Also doing a light lemon glaze on top after it has cooled. Any recommendations on the amounts I should use?
    Thank you for making ALL your recipes so detailed. :))

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi K, we haven’t tested this recipe with lemon, but you could try replacing half of the vanilla with lemon extract — so half vanilla extract, half lemon extract. Adding a bit of lemon zest (to your taste) with the extracts would be delicious, too! The lemon glaze from these muffins would also be delicious on top. Let us know what you try!

  21. I have made this cake “MANY” times. Each time it turns out beautifully. I use 1/2 vanilla and 1/2 almond flavoring which my husband really likes. You can’t go wrong with this recipe!

  22. Can I make this in an aluminum sheet pan?

  23. What can I used alternatively to an angel food cake pan? I have a spring form, and a bunt cake pan. Would either, neither, or one be preferential? Thanks a bunch!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Inga, An angel food cake pan (aka tube pan) is imperative – see recipe notes for more details.

      1. Thanks Trina!

    2. I’ve made it several times in my springform pan and it’s turn out beautifully. I just couldn’t justify buying such a specific pan when I don’t make it that often.

  24. Jennifer Carnahan says:

    I made this as a birthday cake for my son’s birthday dinner. It was the tallest angel food cake I’ve ever made – baked to the top of the pan! It was so light and fluffy, the taste was perfect with just the right amount of sweet. Family declared it the best angel food cake I’ve ever made, and I have made a lot of them!

    So far, everything I’ve made from your site has been awesome!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      We’re so happy to read this, Jennifer! Thank you so much for making and trusting our recipes.

  25. Wow I was totally blown away by how delicious this cake is! I had always bought them in the store, but making it myself I found it to be a completely different cake. It is moist, airy yet also dense, with a crumb that almost melts in your mouth. It is the perfect amount of sweet and you can just sense a hint of vanilla. I topped mine with strawberries some pureed raspberries from my backyard and finished with a heap of whipped cream. It is my new favorite dessert!
    Make sure you read the directions though lol, I didn’t the first time and had gotten a few drops of yolk in my whites. They didn’t fluff properly after 6 minutes so I went back and read the instructions lol(luckily I had about five dozen eggs stocked up from my chickens) so just make sure you are very carefully separating your yolks and whites!

    Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes, I’ve baked so many and every one has been amazing!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Thank you for the positive feedback, Kristen — we’re so excited to hear you enjoyed this angel food cake!

  26. Hi there!
    I was wondering if I can use confectioner sugar? I don’t have a processor or castor sugar.
    Thank you,
    KAT
    P.S. I love your recipes!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Katrina, in our experience, confectioners’ sugar dries out the angel food cake’s crumb. If you follow this recipe, we recommend sticking with granulated sugar for the best results. Hope this helps!

  27. I made this angel food cake for a patriotic trifle for the 4th of July weekend, and everyone raved about it; specifically the angel food cake! There is no comparison to a store bought angel food cake. Thank you for a fantastic recipe!

  28. I recently started a baking business and I get all my recipes from you everyone I know loves them I recently got an order for angel food cake and I had no idea how to make it but this recipe was perfect thank you.

  29. I used this recipe to make my very first Angel Food Cake and it came out awesome! I had visions of it coming out of the pan in chunks but I was super happy to see it come out in one piece! And it tasted (notice past tense) so yummy too! Thank you for this great recipe!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      We’re so happy to hear that it turned out for you, Kathi!

  30. Do you have the nutritional values for this recipe?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jennifer! We don’t usually include nutrition information as it can vary between different brands of the same ingredients. Plus, many recipes have ingredient substitutions or optional ingredients listed. However, there are many handy online calculators where you can plug in and customize your exact ingredients/brands. Readers have found this one especially helpful: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

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