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. I made this last night for trifle and it was DELICIOUS! We all agreed it was way better than store bought angel food cake and I had to move it so people stopped eating it before the trifle was finished! Thank you!

  2. Sally,
    My old cookbook says to use confectioner’s sugar instead of granulated. Of course I wouldn’t need to use my food processor to make this finer, but I wondered if you had tried using powdered sugar and if you had any reason to go with granulated.

    1. Hi Marian, in my experience, confectioners’ sugar dries out the angel food cake’s crumb. However, I can’t speak for all recipes– just the testing I’ve done in the past. If you follow this recipe, I recommend sticking with granulated.

  3. Hi Sally,

    The angel food cake tasted wonderful, however some of the sides of the cake stuck to the pan. What can I do to prevent this in the future?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Elizabeth! Thank you so much for giving this recipe a try. Once cooled, run a thin knife around the edges then and gently tap the pan on the counter until the cake releases.

  4. My favorite cake ever !! Perfect topped with strawberries and nectarines. I can’t wait to make this for my birthday again this year!

  5. Celeste Ciulla says:

    I’m a big fan of yours! I have a 60 year old birthday boy who insists that he wants angel food cake with blue icing. Will this cake support icing? If so, can you recommend a particular kind? Many thanks! -Celeste

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Celeste, how fun! How about our Vanilla Icing with a drop or two of blue gel food coloring?

  6. The best recipe ever I have been making angle food cake from different recipes sometimes it comes out good other not that great, but this was the best time of them all thank you sally for all the tips and details

  7. Judith Swinbanks says:

    I live in the UK we don’t have cake flour what will I use instead please I make my cakes with SR flour

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Judith, in a pinch, you can use this cake flour substitute. We don’t recommend self-rising flour.

  8. Angel food cake has been one of those cakes that has always intimidated me, but this recipe couldn’t have been easier or more delicious! My kids had never had angel food cake before, and loved it! I made a couple batches of lemon curd with the leftover egg yolks and drizzled some on top of the cake. It was delicious!

  9. Celeste Ciulla says:

    This was my first time making an Angel Food Cake and I was very nervous! It was WONDERFUL! I was very proud. I followed the recipe exactly and took to heart all of the warnings. Thank you!!! ( I would recommend the use of a tube pan with a removable bottom. It took a lot of effort to get the cake out of my one piece pan…but I finally did it)!

  10. I’ve made this several times. The hints and video are such a help. I wish I could post a pic of how beautiful my latest cake turned out! It’ll be the highlight dessert of our camping trip topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream! Thank you!

  11. Any ideas on why my egg whites, cream of tarter and sugar didn’t whip correctly? I ended up whipping for close to 15 minutes and didn’t get the desired peak-iness. I still went ahead and baked it, not sure how it tastes just yet but it looks great lol. I was so sad this is my first Sally’s recipe that I’ve messed up.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kayla! Make sure all the tools you are using are completely cleaned, dried, and grease-free. A quick wipe with a little lemon juice or white vinegar is very helpful. Any fat in the bowl (including any yolk) will keep your whites from whipping correctly.

  12. Melissa Hill says:

    This cake is delicious! Thank you for sharing the recipe! Definitely a keeper!

  13. Long time follower, first time commenter!! First off I LOVE your recipes!! Your website is my go to spot for baking and I love to share it!

    I made this recipe and it turned out heavenly (pun intended:). I was wondering if I can can cocoa to the mix and if so? How much? Thanks for reading!!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Michelle, we haven’t tested a chocolate angel food cake. If you try it, let us know how it goes!

  14. I have a smaller tube pan, can I half the recipe?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Connie, That should be fine. I’m unsure of the bake time you would need though.

  15. What do the asterisks mean after some of your ingredients?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi JD, It means there is an extra note about that ingredient in the recipe notes (under the recipe directions).

  16. Would it be ok to use egg whites from the carton or would that affect the recipe. I just do not want to waste 12 egg yolks or what I could do with them. Thank you. Love your recipes!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Colleen, Carton egg whites don’t whip up to nearly the same volume. You can try to use them, but the results will differ from the intended texture and pictured cake. See recipe notes for details on egg whites. Hope you enjoy this recipe!

    2. You can use the egg yolks to make homemade pasta or custard. That way you are not wasting them…

  17. This was my first attempt at angel food cake, the bake time seems to be t0 short. The cake slide out of the pan onto the wire rack. My cake pan has a re-moveable bottom could this be my problem?

    1. I have made this a few times and I have a removable bottom and do not have any issues. Just make sure you didn’t grease your pan before hand..

  18. Chris Schaefer says:

    I followed this directions to the letter-even bought cake flour, and it tuned out great! Nice and high. Thank you.

  19. Wonderful recipe, always perfect results. I’ve used many times. Thank you!!!

  20. I’ve tried this three times now . . . ovens differ and mine may just be bad at angelfood, but . . . . while everything goes according to plan, I cannot get the cake baked properly. First try, followed directions 325 for 45 minutes. Toothpick still gummy so went an additional 15 minutes. Toothpick clean. OK. Removed from the oven, but as soon as I turned it over it fell out of the pan (I have an old tried and true aluminum tube pan from Grandma). it was not salvageable. Too warm and it just collapsed when it hit the counter. Second try, I check oven temp and verified 325. Bumped it up to 350 anyway and baked for 45 min. Still a bit gummy and barely brown crust, so went another 15 minutes. Looked beautiful and stayed in the pan as it cooled, but when cut, it was still gummy in the center. Third try I baked for 45 minutes at 375 and it was very dry and tough so that was the wrong direction . . . just not sure what I’m doing wrong. Any suggestions? I made no subs in the recipe although the last batch was one eggwhite short so I added just a bit of warm water..

    1. Hi Jodie, thank you for trying this recipe. You’re right that all ovens vary. 375F is too hot for this cake. I recommend sticking with 325, but adding more bake time, even past the 15 minutes you added the first time you tried it. Best to use all of the egg whites listed and do not add warm water. See if letting the cake cool upright for 10 minutes before inverting helps too. Let us know if you try it again.

      1. Hi Sally. I am having the same issue. 325 for an hour and it seemed done, nothing on the toothpick but it fell out as soon as I inverted it. Was very sticky and looked like it still could have cooked longer. How long is too long??

      2. I am sooooooo frustrated. I tried once again. The cake was beautiful until I took it out of the oven. In an attempt to avoid the previous failures, I waited 5 minutes to invert it, and during that 5 minutes it collapsed in the pan to half its height. 🙁 I just don’t understand what I’m doing wrong.

  21. Hi, just popping in for a recipe, but I know that a removeable-bottom pan is correct for this kind of cake. It should also be a “regular” finish, not a non-stick pan. Then do not grease the pan. This lets the cake cling to the sides until it is cool. Usually it takes a knife to release the cake from the sides of the pan. If the baking time seemed short, maybe your oven runs “cool”, and it wasn’t done yet. Hope this helps.

  22. I have to say this is by far the best angel food cake recipe I’ve tried. I get continuous requests for it. I make my own whipped cream and serve it with fresh fruit and it’s AMAZING!
    Thank you for sharing it!

  23. This recipe came out delicious!! Didn’t change anything to the recipe, so much better than store bought!! Thank you for sharing..

  24. Excited to try this! Do you think it would it work in loaf pans?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Katie, we haven’t tried it, but a couple readers have left comments saying the recipe works wonderfully for in 9×5 inch loaf pans.

  25. Hi, wondering if anyone bought super fine sugar instead of granulated sugar for this Angel food cake and wondered what the measurement adjustments would be? It looks fantastic but would rather not pull out the food processor.

    1. Hi Beth, you can use superfine sugar. No need to pulse the 1 cup of superfine sugar that you’ll add to the egg whites. Still pulse the remaining 3/4 sugar with the dry ingredients though.

      1. Would powdered sugar work as well? Rather new to baking but I don’t think the sugar became ‘fine’ enough when I put it in the food processor last night.

      2. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Annie! In our experience, confectioners’ sugar dries out the angel food cake’s crumb. We recommend sticking with granulated sugar, but if you try anything else let us know how it goes!

  26. Do you use the whisk the whole time, or change to the beater for higher beat / to get to the stiffness?

    1. Always use the whisk attachment. The beater will deflate your eggs and not give you the volume you need..

  27. I normally use a different recipe and it has always turned out perfectly sweet and oh-so-airy. I decided to try this one because I liked the idea of blending the sugar in a food processor. The cake tastes good but I’m disappointed that it is not very airy. My normal recipe says to whip the eggs to stiff peaks, whereas this one says soft peaks. I wonder if that’s what made the difference? Even so, we will still eat the whole thing and enjoy every bite!

  28. I made this for a birthday and it was a big hit! I paired it with a berry compote and homemade whipped cream neither with added sugar to mellow out the sweetness of the cake. Would it be possible to cut down the sugar in the cake somehow? Maybe add more flour instead?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lauren, what a delicious choice for a birthday! We’re so glad to hear it was a hit. We don’t recommend reducing the sugar. With so few ingredients each one plays a crucial role! Beyond taste, sugar is also used for moisture and texture in baked goods. 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 a recipe that is specifically formulated for less sugar. Hope this is helpful!

  29. In your video, you caution not to use all-purpose flour in this recipe instead of cake flour. Is it ok to use your substitute cake flour (i.e. with cornstarch added and sifted twice)?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Donna! In a pinch, you can use our cake flour substitute. But real cake flour is ideal.

      1. Thanks. Glad I checked!

  30. Hi! I don’t currently own a tube pan; is it okay if I used a regular cake pan instead? And what would you recommend in terms of cooking time if I were to use a normal 9-inch removable bottom pan? Thanks!

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