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. Amellya Cunnigham says:

    HI there!

    Just a little problem I encountered – the instructions werent as clear as followed – I second guessed myt self after reading the insructions for cooling the cake. Personally I prefer a simplied exlpananation which I do not feel was given in this recipe.

    Thanks

    P.S. USE YOUR OWN CAKE LOGIC WHEN FLIPPING!!

  2. Sceleratus says:

    Sure as God made gummy bears the fourth cake was a disaster. It had pockets of cake-mix rocks everywhere. I’ll go back to the video to see if it clears up “folding” for me. I most certainly did it wrong. But I can’t remember what I did right the first three times either. The recipe still gets stars.

  3. I will be making this cake today, saving the yolks for another of your great recipes for when my grand kids come in 4 days — the s’mores recipe on your page! Can the yolks stay edible that long in the fridge and covered?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Wendy, that should be just fine. Happy baking!

      1. Michelle zajichek says:

        My son always wants a gel food cake for birthday. He likes it frosted . He wants whip cream frosting this year . Do you have a recipe for this ? I usually use store bought tube frosting to write message and decorate. Can I do that with whipped frosting?

      2. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Michelle! Whipped cream isn’t great for writing with, a vanilla buttercream or stabilized whipped cream (that frosting recipe minus the Oreos) would work much better. Hope it’s a hit!

  4. Hi. I absolutely love this recipe! I’ve made it a few times and it comes out amazing. My question is what to do with all the egg yolks. I saw something about how there is something called a ’12 Yolk Cake’ that is designed specifically to use the yolks from and Angel Food cake. Sally, I’d love to have your version of that recipe!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Thank you for the positive feedback, Ana! We’re thrilled you enjoyed this angel food cake. We aren’t familiar with the recipe you mention, but here are all of our recipes that use egg yolks — one of our favorite ways to use the leftovers is for lemon curd!

  5. Would be able to adapt this recipe to make a sour cream angle food cake and what proportions you would recommend? Thanks so much!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Linda! We haven’t tried incorporating sour cream into this angel food cake recipe. With so few ingredients and each playing an important part, it would take additional recipe testing to incorporate sour cream and guarantee results. It might be best to search for a recipe that specifically incorporates sour cream — let us know if you find one you love!

  6. Help I’m baking #5 and I’m still uncertain how I will tackle folding in the dry ingredients. I don’t know what I did for the first three….. they were Perfect. #4 a lumpy disaster. And I knew it was going to be a lumpy disaster.

    I think I’m just gonna do a “light mix”. I have to figure it out because I LOVE this cake

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Luke! Have you watched the video tutorial in the blog post above? That should be helpful for you – we’re so glad you love this cake!

      1. Dear Trina
        Yup, I did….and thanks so much for the speedy reply it means a lot. I’m 15min from folding. I’ll watch it again

  7. It’s pretty well stirred in on the video. Thanks again for your help!

  8. I wish there were hundreds of stars to rate this recipe! The texture is amazing and it’s my new fave! Last time i made this, i made it into a trifle with pastry cream, whipped cream, and strawberries, and this time i might just eat it plain it’s so good!

  9. This recipe is fairly easy – why didn’t my cake rise the way it should? Wondering if I didn’t whip the eggs enough, might that be the culprit?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Wendy! That could definitely be the culprit. Did you reach soft peaks? Also 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!

  10. Good day Sally, I would like to make a birthday cake, can I use regular baking pan instead of the pan you recommend… please and thank you…. ???

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Cammy! An angel food cake pan (aka tube pan) is imperative – see recipe notes for more details. You may love these angel food cupcakes instead!

  11. Wow! This recipe is unbelievable. I can’t say enough about it. I’m an experienced baker but i’d never made an Angel Good Cake before last night and it came out even better than I could’ve imagined. It’s so fluffy and tastes perfect. Thanks for such a lovely recipe and for your blog. It’s awesome!

  12. What cake pan size is needed to bake this cake? And this cake size is good for how many people?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Amina, you’ll need a 9 or 10 inch tube pan for this recipe. It serves about 10-12 people! For the full recipe, scroll to the bottom of the page. Happy baking!

  13. This is the best angel food cake I’ve ever had! So light and fluffy, it practically melts in your mouth. I made it for a get together with friends, and they couldn’t stop talking about how good it was. We served it with some fresh strawberries and whipped cream, and it was SO good! I made the recipe exactly as written.

  14. Maree Susan says:

    You didn’t even write how much you were supposed to measure!!!!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Maree! The full written recipe (including measurements) is in the gray box at the end of the blog post (above these comments). Hope this helps!

  15. Melissa G McAughty says:

    Hey there Sally, I am excited to make this, but I was wondering about almond extract. If I wanted to add it do I reduce the vanilla at all?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Melissa, Almond extract would be lovely in this. We recommend about 1/2 or 3/4 teaspoon – it’s pretty potent. No need to reduce the vanilla. Happy baking!

  16. Hey Sally. Could I use a regular 9 inch pan instead of the tube pan?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shu, An angel food cake pan (aka tube pan) is imperative – see recipe notes for more details. You may love these angel food cupcakes instead!

      1. Thank you so much

  17. Perfection!
    I made this cake according to the recipe except substituted almond extract for 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. The cake came out of the pan perfectly. (I was nervous. Hate it when a cake looks beautiful in a pan, but then half of it remains in the pan when removing.) Beautiful and delicious.

  18. can this be made in advance and frozen?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lee! Angel food cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before serving.

  19. I made this recipe and I loved it. I am pretty adventurous while baking, and since I didn’t have the proper pan, I just used a flat one. I baked it till brown, and it came out flaky. It was difficult to take it out, but with powdered sugar they tasted like chewy pieces of deliciousness.

    1. Lauren M Murphy says:

      I like this idea – you might put a sheet of parchment under it next time. Should help taking it out. Let it hang over the sides to give you a handle to lift the cake out.

  20. This recipe was so easy to follow! I think I did everything right but now that my cake is cool I noticed the bottom (top when turned upside down) is quite sticky. I am afraid to try to take it out of the pan. Will the texture be okay?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Alli! It’s hard to say without turning it out – let us know how it goes!

  21. Hi, I’ve made an angel food cake before but can’t wait to try this one. But don’t have a tube pan. Used a Bundt pan before and it worked. What’d you think for this recipe?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Belinda, you need a tube pan for this recipe, not a Bundt pan. We link to the tube pan we 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.

  22. Hi I want to use this cake for my trifle so i want to bake it in a round pan so i can cut it into two flat layers. What size of pan can i use and will it bubble over.

    Thanks Sally

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Hyacinth, An angel food cake pan (aka tube pan) is imperative – see recipe notes for more details. You may love these angel food cupcakes instead — but even there, we recommend the cupcake pans rather than cake pans (as we fear they won’t rise the same).

  23. Hi Sally, I tried the recipe but my cake rose really high and then it collapsed in the oven around 10 minutes left on timer. What would be the contributing error? Please help. Thank you so much.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tiffany, When an angel food cake collapses during bake time, it could mean that the egg whites were over-whipped. Only whip until soft peaks form before adding the vanilla and then the dry ingredients. When folding in the dry ingredients, do so very slowly and in stages as the recipe suggests. Folding in the dry ingredients quickly or all at once can cause the cake to lose volume and deflate. We hope this helps if you ever try the recipe again!

  24. I’ve been baking angel food cakes for more than 4 decades and this is very close to my recipe (a bit less flour). However I ALWAYS use frozen egg whites. I keep a 2 cup plastic container in the freezer and add whites to it as I use yolks, and when it is almost full it’s time to make an angel food cake or a pavlova. Therefore I use more than 12 whites (1 ½ c). My whites never fail to beat to just shy of stiff peaks, using cream of tartar and sugar just as directed, though perhaps it takes a bit longer than with fresh whites. Just make sure they are thick and frothy before increasing the speed and beginning to add sugar.

  25. Is there a modification for high altitude? I’ve used mixes before that have you add 1/3 cup cornstarch to the mix. Thanks kn

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi KN, We wish we could help, but we have no experience baking at high altitude. We know some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html.

  26. I am making this for a diabetic friend’s birthday. Do you think it would work to replace the sugar with a sugar substitute such as Swerve? I know the ratio is typically 1:1, but I wondered about the texture. Thoughts?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Joyce, We’d love to help but we are not trained in baking with sugar substitutes. For best taste and texture (and so you don’t waste your time trying to adapt this recipe since it may not work properly), it may be more useful to find an angel food cake recipe that is specifically formulated for sugar substitutes. Thank you!

  27. Any tips for halving the recipe? I only have a 7 inch pan.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Meghan, do you have a round pan or a smaller tube pan? An angel food cake pan (aka tube pan) is imperative, as angel food cake’s structure and stability requires the tube pan’s particular specifications. You might also enjoy our angel food cupcakes instead.

  28. This was literally the best angel food cake I have ever eaten, and my guests said the same thing. The recipe is perfect as it is originally written, but I have also tried adding almond extract (1/2 tsp.) in addition to the vanilla. Normally I am not a fan of almond extract, but it works beautifully in this recipe!

  29. I just scooped 1 c of flour from the bag instead of “spooning” it. Do I need to discard flour/sugar mix and start again?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lynn! For absolute precision, you could start again. Otherwise, you could try to eyeball taking a Tbs or so of flour out.

  30. I made this for my husbands 35th. Grandma said it was the best cake she ever had and there was nothing left by the end of the night! Great recipe

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