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

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
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

501 Comments

  1. I find the cake a bit too sweet

  2. I usually don’t leave reviews, but I want to say that this angel food cake was too sweet (and I like sweets)! Followed the recipe exactly and the texture was great, but the cake had a taste of almost marshmallow. Have had great angel food cake in the past, sadly this was not the recipe for me.

  3. I love the look of your fresh berry cake but have a specific request for angel food cake. Do you think this angel food cake would be firm enough to layer with cream and berries? I was thinking maybe just two layers. Thanks!! I’ve made so many of your recipes 🙂

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lynn, 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!

  4. Hi, I’ve made this a few times. Why is it that sometimes a part of the cake or the whole cake really separates from the pan as it’s cooling making it lopsided? Also, the middle part kind of pulls into itself sometimes making the whole cake look like a mushroom once it’s removed from the pan? How do i make sure it’s all nice and level on the sides? Thanks!

  5. I’ve made quite a few Angel Food cakes, but this recipe is THE BEST! Thank you, Sally, for sharing these tips. Definitely made the cake extra special!

  6. Some people have commented that some of the cake separates from the bottom when cooling. Some angel food cake pans have ears on the outside rim that are higher than the tube in the middle. When the cake is turned upside down for cooling, the bottom is not supported because the central tube does not touch the rack. With a pan like that the cake may pull apart when cooled on a rack.

    My mother taught me to turn an angel food cake upside down and insert the center tube onto the neck of a bottle for cooling. With that method the cake will not pull apart.

  7. More complicated than other recipes I’ve tried, but so worth the extra steps, came out so much better than my other attempts! And definitely use real egg whites…my first try I used carton ones and it did not work very well

  8. Good

  9. Aarthi Sankaran says:

    Sally, my cake didn’t rise as much as I thought it would. Is it because i didn’t do a good job of gathering the whites (I did use 12 large – but perhaps didn’t manage to separate properly) – i used a william sonoma egge separator

  10. I’d never had homemade angel food cake before. I made this one because my kids tend to prefer deserts that don’t have a lot of strong flavor – like chocolate and nuts & I had a feeling this might be up there alley. Using this recipe, my angel food cake came out amazing. The kids said it was one of their favorite cakes ever! Angel food cake is made in a completely different way than any cake I’ve made before, so I really appreciate the detailed instructions and photos. Thank you Sally, This is THE website I go to when I need baked goods recipes!

  11. Guys, Thanks For sharing this Great Recipe. My Family Loved it. I am definitely sharing this recipe and this website with my friend. Hope they also love it. Thank you again for sharing such a great recipe.

  12. Argyris Gyftopoulos says:

    Good evening!

    Your recipes are one of a kind!

    I would like to ask, after making the cake, and leaving it upside down to cool for 3 hours, how can I best preserve it, to serve the next day on New Years? Do I remove it from its pan, wrap it in plastic foil, and put it in the fridge, do I leave it at room temperature, or do I just let it hang upside down overnight? (precautions taken not to fall down, of course)

    You’re a dessert superhero in my house.

    Thank you

  13. Made angel food cake from scratch for the first time today with my daughter using this recipe. The directions, along with the video, were easy to follow and the cake turned out perfectly. We were extremely pleased with the results and will be using this recipe from now on whenever we need an angel food cake. Thanks for sharing! (Looking forward to using the reserved yolks to make your lemon curd. Already used some of them successfully making your butterscotch pudding!)

  14. I was so intimidated by this cake because it looked so difficult/finicky but I read the recipe carefully and and watched the video and even with my weird oven and no stand mixer it worked and tasted like a wonderful cloud, thank you so much

  15. This was my second attempt. I made it for my husband’s birthday, and it is his favorite now!! The cake was soft and spongy and simply delicious! I served it with lemon curd. I used a yolk separator this time and that made a big difference because I didn’t get any yolk in the egg whites. I think this angel food cake is a new family favorite. Thank you!!

  16. I am going to make this fabulous sounding angel food cake, and then also use the yolks for your creme brulee. I’m in Colorado at 7200 feet. Are there any altitude adjustments I should make?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

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

  17. Followed the recipe exactly and this came out perfect! Absolutely delicious—thank you!!

  18. I can’t wait to make this soon. I was wondering, I remember angel food cake of my childhood having an almond flavor. Does that just happen or is likely that some recipes also have almond extract? Any thoughts on adding almond flavoring?
    Thanks again for what appears to e a great recipe. I learned something in the video. Not sure why it never occurred to me before but I noticed you placed each egg white. I typically add all of them together and if I would happen to get some yolk, I would ruin all of them. Nice touch!!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lisa! Almond extract would be lovely in this. I recommend about 1/2 or 3/4 teaspoon – it’s pretty potent. Happy baking!

      1. Delicious! The texture is like velvet. I did replace 1/2 t of vanilla with 1/2 t of almond flavoring and just so others know, I successfully used saved egg whites. I measured about 1.5 cups of whites. I mixed the flour- sugar mixture as noted but was worried that it wasn’t blending in well but apparently it did. Thanks for another great recipe.

  19. Jennifer Roman says:

    I thought I followed the angel cake recipe with care but when I inverted the cake onto the cooling rack, the cake fell out of the tube pan. It somewhat kept its shape but was not straight and tall. Would appreciate your advice. Thank you.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jennifer, 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. Under-baking could also be the culprit. It’s also very important not to grease the pan. We hope all of this can help for next time!

      1. Jennifer Roman says:

        Thanks so much for your response. I think I may have underbaked it as I did everything else correctly. I’ll try again but 12 egg whites are a lot or rather 12 yolks take some using up!!

  20. This is my first time baking angel food cake, and it was a huge success (lol that rarely happens…as I’m barely a teen…)! I made it for my little sister’s birthday and she loved it topped with whipped cream and berries. Next time I want to try to make a chocolate version using some cocoa powder, so what’s your suggestion on this? Will the cake turn out too dry? Should I add some more liquid? Thanks!!! 🙂

  21. I tried this recipe today and it came out great I love that it wasn’t too sweet.. I did use some Frozen eggs whites that I had thawed out along with some fresh and it still came out great.. Since I have been baking a lot of cookies that use just egg yolks this gives me something to make with my extra whites. Plus my son requested it.. One question has anyone tried to use parchment paper on sides so doesn’t stick? or would that cause issues?

  22. DENEEN MURPHY- COOK says:

    At 56 years old, this was my FIRST EVER scratch made Angel Food !
    I used it for a strawberry tunnel cake recipe ( from an old Eagle Brand Milk cookbook) that is a long time family favourite.
    I’ve always used a mix for the cake.
    Today I decided to try your recipe because EVERYTHING I ever make of your’s is INCREDIBLE!
    The ONLY thing I changed was a little tweak, but I actually learned it from one of your other recipes! I used 1 teaspoon of vanilla and a quarter teaspoon of almond extract. (Like you suggest in your sugar cookie recipe) And it was amazing!

  23. I have baked this cake several times and really appreciate all the tips. One thing I will say -the two times I have followed the instructions and “rotated the cake” half way through baking the angel food cake has fallen. Super disappointing.
    For me it seems better to skip that step.

  24. Just for fun, we’d like to add some food coloring to the cake to make it stand out a bit. At what point in the recipe would be the best place to do this? If I put it in with the vanilla, will it damage the texture of the meringue? Or should I do it while I am folding in the flour?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Dean, we haven’t tested it but you should be able to fold in food coloring at the very end of mixing. Would love to hear how it goes for you.

      1. So here’s what I did; at the point in the beating where you add the vanilla, we added the food coloring. I used the same attachment on my mixer that you do in the video; the color reached the mixture outside the whisk, but not inside. But that wasn’t a problem, since the folding came next.
        We decided that we hadn’t put enough color in, so during folding we added some more. Turns out, the folding action distributed the color very effectively (and had the added benefit that it was very easy to see where there was still dry flour during the folding; so I was able to be sure that all the flour was folded in, without having to over-fold “just in case”).
        The final product was great; the color was even throughout, and the cake held its shape perfectly.
        Personally, I prefer the snow-white color of a pure Angel Food cake, but it’s good to know that it is pretty easy to color it if you want a special effect.
        My grandmother taught me how to make Angel Food cake when I was a youth. That was so many decades ago, that I had forgotten most of the details. Thanks for publishing this recipe; everything bit of advice you give here brings back memories of the things she taught me way back when.

  25. Hi, I saw above in the recipe that it said to not use a Bundt pan as it would be hard to get out of the pan. Does anyone know if it would work using a heart shaped pan? Would be a shame to ruin a cake but I would be willing to experiment if nobody knows (:

    1. It’s risky; there’s a reason why Angel Food cake has that ring shape, and that’s because it is difficult for the delicate batter to stand up on its own while cooking. A round or heart-shaped pan runs the risk that the center of the cake will fall.

  26. Meghan Phelan says:

    My son saw a photo of an angel food cake cut in half, and said it looked like a magnet from a cartoon. He was begging me to make a magnet cake. I don’t typically like angel food cake, so I wasn’t too excited about it. This cake was perfection. I’ve never had such a delicious angel food cake. I can’t wait to make it again! Your recipes haven’t let me down yet!

  27. Made this cake today and it’s very dense. Only raised 1/2 way.

  28. Excellent instructions! Easy to make and turned out so yummy. It went quick because everyone loved it! Thanks for sharing.

  29. I used this recipe for the first Angel food cake I ever made. Now it is the only recipe I use and everyone loves it. My husband and I ate the whole thing in just a few days. We also use your recipe for homemade whipped cream to top the cake!

  30. Thank you so much for this recipe! I’ve tried a few different versions from other websites but yours is perfection. So light and fluffy and flavorful. My little boy is super picky but adored this, thank you again. I also used my leftover egg yolks for your lemon curd and I am smitten. Fabulous! I have a birthday coming up and I’m planning on making your strawberry cake. I cannot wait. Thank you once again.

1 6 7 8 9 10 12

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

Sally's signature

Recipes You’ll Love

Archives

Categories

Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe. Review Sally's Baking Challenge FAQ page if you have any questions.

View More

Every December we publish 10 new cookie recipes in a row! The 2021 Sally’s Cookie Palooza begins 11/29. Sign up via email and we’ll send you my most popular recipes and all the new cookie recipes once the palooza begins!

View More

Pie Week is all about baking the BEST pies! Sign up via email and we'll send you my most popular recipes and all the new pie recipes once Pie Week begins!

View More

My Cookbooks

Sally's Cookbooks

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally

×