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. 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

314 Comments

  1. I’m on a roll with the baking challenges! (6 for !!)
    I maybe once or twice have eaten angel food cake & couldn’t remember if I liked it, & I certainly never made it. I ordered a tube pan just for this but it will definitely be used again & again because this angel food cake was exceptional!! I took it to a Father’s Day gathering along with some homemade lemon curd & whipped cream & everyone LOVED it. So So light & fluffy!! Thank you Sally yet again for a fantastic recipe & great instructions. I love baking new things & learning. Can’t wait to see what July’s challenge will be!!

    1. Hi Austria! What wonderful feedback- I’m thrilled you tried homemade angel food cake this month 🙂 Glad it was a hit and what yummy toppings!! Thanks for participating in my monthly challenges! Way to go!

  2. We loved this recipe! So light and delicious! I had a couple of questions: when I put the cake upside down to cool, it fell out of the pan a few minutes after I turned it over. The tasty brown part on the sides stayed in the pan so my cake was white on the sides. Did I do something wrong? Your cake pan looks like a non-stick tube pan. Is that why the brown stayed on your cake sides?

    1. Hi Linda! I can’t imagine how yours would fall right out! You didn’t grease the tube pan, right? My tube pan is non-stick and the cake doesn’t fall out like that– I’ve actually never had that happen before!

      1. Hi Sally,
        No, I didn’t grease the pan. I was surprised because I’d made cake mix angel food cakes before and never had that happen either.

  3. I know I can “borrow” my mother’s circular tube pan (I loved making the angel food cake from a mix when I was a kid). But has anyone tried a different shaped pan? I have a square tube pan (I bought it for a sweet potato cake) and I would love to give this angel food a try in it if possible.

      1. It turned out great. Was a little concerned that the extra surface area was going to rip the cake getting it out of the pan. May try a piece of parchment in the bottom next time.

  4. Made this for Father’s Day yesterday. It was a big hit! So tall, light and fluffy…served with whipped cream and strawberries. It is so worth making it from scratch!

    1. Hi Annette! I’m so happy you tried this recipe- the perfect Father’s Day treat! Thanks for participating in this month’s challenge 🙂

  5. I had never made angel food cake before and this was easy to follow and 100% worth it! So fluffy and delicious!

  6. Supermarket angel food cakes are easy to buy and serve, but they are simply wrong — wrong texture, wrong flavor, just wrong This recipe is perfect, producing a cake that is right in every respect. With some of the leftover egg yolks I made a lime custard sauce based on the David Leibovitz recipe for Orange Creme Anglaise. It echoes a long-lost Gourmet Magazine recipe for a custard sauce flavored with lime zest; yesterday, Fathers’ Day, it tasted oh-so-good with strawberries, blueberries, and this lovely, lovely cake.

    1. I’m thrilled you enjoyed this homemade angel food cake, Linda! What a delicious use of leftover egg yolks- yum! 🙂

  7. It was my first time making this sort of cake and it turned out great. I used the hack for the pan which worked also. 🙂

  8. Loved making this! It was delicious! I haven’t had Angel Food cake in years! It was nice to try making it homemade rather than a box.

  9. I thoroughly enjoyed this baking challenge and am so glad I made this. I watched your video three times before making and with the detailed instructions felt confident I could do it. The end result was an Angel Food Cake I was proud to serve. Thank you Sally for everything you do to enable us to be better bakers!! Note to self, buy an egg separator! LOL

    1. Hi Wendy! I LOVED reading your comment- that’s the goal with these challenges- to try something new AND feel confident doing so! Thanks so much for participating this month 🙂

  10. I am a new baker, so this recipe was a challenge for me. However, the video helped a ton, and I was able to come up with a finished product that I was proud of. It tastes amazing, and it was something I had never thought of making, so it helped bring me out of my comfort zone, which I loved. Thanks Sally!

    1. THIS is what I love to read! The purpose of the baking challenges– have fun, enjoy something delicious, and challenge yourself! Thanks Kaitlin. I loved reading this.

  11. Like all of your recipes this was fantastic! Eating it with fresh picked strawberries. Also made some lemon curd with the yolks 😉

  12. I live in the Rocky Mountains. I made the cake but it fell out of the pan. Tasted great. How do I adjust a recipe for high altitude? My daughter and I love your recipes!

    1. Hi Kathy! So glad you enjoyed the taste of the angel food cake, thank you so much for trying it! I have no experience baking at high altitude, so I’m afraid I can’t give any sound advice. Readers have found this chart helpful though! https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

  13. II have never made an angel food cake before today. The recipe was easy to follow and straight forward and the tips are very helpful! My almost 2 to daughter was helping me bake this afternoon, and thought the cake was taking too long to bake, so she turned the oven up to broil!! Thankfully, you suggested turning it after 20 minutes, so when i checked the cake, it was a bit well done on top. but perfect in the middle 🙂 I will be making this often because it was so good, I will just leave the toddler out of the kitchen next time!

    1. Toddlers– always anxious to help out! So cute. I’m glad you tried the angel food cake and it was still great!

  14. First time making a cake from scratch and it turned out perfect! We ended up making fresh pasta with a bulk of the leftover eggs yolks too which was great!

  15. Loved the comment in your video about making lemon curd with the leftover egg yolks! That would also make a great topping on this with freshly whipped cream and berries. I’ll have to try that next time. Thanks for this challenge, Sally!

  16. I baked this cake this weekend for my 40th birthday! It baked up so nice and tall and was so fluffy and delicious! The best angel food cake I’ve ever had! Thank you a Sally for another great recipe!

  17. made this recipe this weekend for my mother’s 65th birthday and she loved it! it turned out perfect! I made the lemon curd to go with it as suggested, but not everyone in the group likes lemon, so i also made some chocolate icing, which paired perfectly
    The only change i made to the recipe was adding a bit of almond extract along with the vanilla – delicious! Thanks Sally for another great recipe!

  18. I love this! Great tasting, light and airy recipe that can be served so many ways. I frosted mine with a whipped cream and pineapple frosting.

  19. Hi Sally, would love to try this recipe! But we don’t have cake flour here in UK! Is there a way around this? Thank you!

    1. Hi Rania! 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.

  20. This turned out great! I was surprised by how much I liked it because I never really thought I liked angel food cake. The only ones I’d ever had before were the dried out, bland, store bought ones. This was fluffy without being overly dry and had a great flavor! Very simple to make. The only problem I had was I didn’t mix in the dry ingredients well enough so when I poured it into the pan there was a large pocket of flour. I just gave the batter a gentle stir in the pan and everything was fine. I would absolutely make this again!

  21. I followed Sally’s directions exactly and this cake came out amazing! I made it for Father’s Day and everyone loved it, my sister has already said that she wants it as her birthday cake so I will definitely be making it again.

  22. I love your recipes! Fairly new at baking so forgive my ignorance. Can I use a bundt pan since I already have one?

  23. I made this recipe to bring to work to celebrate staff birthdays in April, May, and June. I made whipped cream and brought some strawberries and blueberries too. I made it in a 9X5 loaf pan (halving the recipe, but changing nothing else) via a tip on the SBA FB group and it came out swimmingly! I have eaten it before, but never made it myself. It was so quick and easy to make!

  24. I know from years of baking that this is a spectacular cake, but due to dietary restrictions, I made substitutions for the sugar and flour. As I folded in the flour/sugar mixture the egg whites started to deflate! I hoped for the best but it did not rise. No fault to the recipe.

  25. This was wonderful and so EASY. This was a first time for me and I was so nervous. The recipe was so easy to follow and everyone loved it.

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