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…!
  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. 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! 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

285 Comments

  1. This recipe is truly something fantastic. Angel food cake has been a staple in our family for a long time but I have never found the recipe that made me feel confident enough to make it. People were SO impressed with this cake. It’s light and fluffy and melts in your mouth. I like it best with strawberries and whipped cream. Thank you Sally!

  2. Another fantastic baking challenge recipe! I have always wanted to make angel food cake, but have been intimidated by how difficult everyone has always told me it was to do. This recipe has easy steps to follow, and the video makes it a breeze. The cake baked up so tender and airy, and tastes delicious! It was a huge hit with my family. I will definitely add this to my baking rotation

    1. This is exactly what baking challenges are about! I’m thrilled you tried something new and stepped out of your baking comfort zone 🙂 Way to go Lisa!

  3. Easy to follow instructions. The cake came out perfectly. I’ve always loved angel food cake, but had no idea it was this easy to make! Thanks for the challenge!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe, Michelle! Thanks for your positive feedback and participating in this month’s challenge 🙂

  4. I followed the recipe exactly, and it came out fluffy, moist, and delicious. I put homemade cardamom strawberry rhubarb sauce and whipped cream on top, and it was incredible! 100% worth the extra effort of homemade.

  5. My friend requested a strawberry and vanilla cake trifle with whipped cream for her birthday cake. She said she likes light, airy cakes so I thought of this one. I was planning to make it in a 9 x 13 and cube it for the trifle, but now I see that making it outside of the tube pan may mess it up. Would the 9 x 13 be ok or should I use another recipe? Thanks!

    1. Hi Sarah! I recommend sticking with a tube pan. If you don’t have one, perhaps use this white cake recipe for the trifle. You can bake it in a 9×13 inch cake pan.

  6. June is my birth month and angel food cake is 1 of my 2 all time faves for cake. (Number 2 is white wedding cake). I am baking this right now and have owned the pan for yrs yet never had the courage to try. Thanks for not only another simple recipe but 1 that is going to be made repeatedly at my house.

  7. My first time ever making Angel Food cake from scratch and, of course, it turned out amazing – Sally’s recipes never fail! Followed the recipe exactly and was super glad I did!
    Thank you for always giving me confidence in the kitchen! ❤️

    1. Absolutely love reading this, Jennifer! Thrilled you participated in this month’s challenge and conquered a new recipe! 🙂

  8. On my first try the cake turned out beautifully!

    My dad loved it and was super impressed it was made from scratch.

  9. My birthday is in June, and after making this for the challenge, I want it for my birthday too! Thanks so much!

  10. I got a stand mixer yesterday and your angel food cake was the very first thing I made. It was really so easy and the whole family loved it. 🙂

  11. I’ve always been intimidated by whipping egg whites into peaks for some reason but your recipes are always so approachable that I begin them without fear. Didn’t know I liked angel food cake until now! Thanks again Sally

  12. This recipe worked really well! We had a nice light and fluffy angel food cake, with a side of frozen custard to use up all of those egg yolks. Did end up using two bread loaf pans instead of a tube pan because I couldn’t find mine for the life of me, and it worked just fine.

  13. This recipe was perfect!! The texture of the cake is extra light, fluffy and it’s not dry. I added lemon zest to it, so yummy. The detailed steps and tips really helpful! Thanks

  14. Sally, dying to make this cake but i haven’t seen cake flour here in Brazil… i read in your notes that can’t use all purpose flour , is there another option?

    1. Hi Nina! Are you able to purchase it online or anything like that? Or you can use a DIY cake flour alternative but the results may not be as exact! To make 1 cup of cake flour, combine 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp of all-purpose flour with 2 Tbsp of cornstarch. Sift together. You’ll have to do this twice, then measure out 1 cup + 2 Tbsp for this recipe.

  15. This is a delicious and simple angle food cake recipe. The texture and flavor are perfect for any type of sauce or topping. It is even good plain! The directions are great and when using a stand mixer this cake goes together very easily.

  16. Angel food cake is one of my absolute faves and this version makes one of the best I’ve ever had. The instructions are crystal clear resulting in an angel food cake that light, sweet and positively delicious. I own a tube pan purely so I can make angel food cakes and I’ve now found the all-time best recipe for it. Thank you so much for a great recipe and some truly fantastic tricks!

  17. I have always loved angel food cake but was too intimidated to try making it. Once again, you broke it down in a way that made me think, “what’s it hurt to TRY?” Thank goodness! This is so delicious! I was nervous when mine did puff up all the way to the edge of the pan but it turned out tall, puffy and DELICIOUS! Thank you!!

  18. I made this angel food cake today. Can highly recommend it! These are my tips if you plan on making it:

    #1 I made this is an 8inch/20cm springform and halved the recipe for it. Since I don’t have a tube pan, I made a DIY version and used a can in the center of a springform. Worked like a charm. I believe that my cake was a bit flatter, if you have an 8inch tube pan, you probably would need x0.75 of the recipe.
    #2 Here in Germany there is no cake flour, so I replaced it with 90 grams of all-purpose flour and 40 grams of cornstarch. At least from the pictures it feels like it worked just the same.
    #3 As always I reduced the amount of sugar, you will have no structure problems with as little as 280 grams of sugar.

    Thank you so much Sally for this challenge!

  19. I didn’t have a tube pan, so I tried your advice how to do it. I was sceptical if this works but the result was great and the Cake is sooo delicious :). Thank you!

  20. This is a great recipe. My granddaughter said “ nonnie this is the best cake you have ever made me! ” No other words are needed.
    Thanks Sally.

  21. OUTSTANDING!
    I had never made Angel’s Food Cake before, but came to your site to find a delicious recipe for it. I am a fan and have found your recipes not only easy to follow, but they result in delicious desserts that make everyone smile. Well, let me tell you….this one doesn’t disappoint at all! It has to be one of the most delicious cakes I’ve ever had: Light, airy, moist with just the right amount of sweetness. I made this cake for my Mom’s birthday yesterday. She has been on a diet lately and she asked me to not make her favorite cheesecake. Because I wanted to bake her something, we compromised on an Angel’s Food cake. Well, this was no compromise!!! This cake will absolutely become one of the standards in my repertoire now!!!! I whipped up some homemade whipped cream and we all ate it together with some fresh berries. FANTASTIC!! Even my husband, who tends to be rather non-plussed on desserts raved about it. Thank you so much for your site and for your recipes. Keep ’em coming!!! Anyone who is looking to make a delicious dessert that won’t make you feel guilty, yet you’ll walk away totally delighted should make this cake.

    1. I’m smiling reading your review! Thank you so much for sharing your feedback with me- LOVE that it was such a hit with your family 🙂

  22. Awesome, awesome recipe. I love how your challenges month after month gently push me out of my comfort zone. Directions were easy to follow, I got to taste the few crumbs left behind on the pan, and I can’t wait to serve this to friends tomorrow. Thanks Sally!

    1. Love that you are stepping outside of your baking comfort zone- exactly what these challenges are about! Thanks for participating this month, Jamie! 🙂

  23. I made this June challenge cake for Father’s Day served as strawberry shortcake and boy was it delicious!
    The recipe was easy to prepare with perfectly written instructions. Do allow time for the egg whites to come to room temperature. That took longer than I imagined.
    The cake baked up beautiful. It’s light, yet moist, fluffy, with the perfect amount of sweetness. It’s a nice alternative when looking for a low-fat dessert.
    I now have a go-to Angel Food Cake recipe.

  24. So yummy!!!! I made my angel food cake for Father’s day and we were all very happy. I made lemon curd with the extra egg yolks. I was very intimidated by the recipe but the thorough instructions and the video helped so much. Now that I have tried it I know I can easily make it again!!

  25. I only thought Angel food cake was a box mix so this recipe was outside my comfort zone. But with Sally’s simple instructions of super easy to follow! Perfect challenge recipe for Father’s day!

  26. Wow! This angel food cake recipe is heavenly! Easy to make, melts in your mouth, and is just so moist and delicious! Was a big hit at our family gathering for Father’s Day. Will most definitely be making this again!

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