This Angel Food Cake with blueberry sauce is light, sweet, and moist! It is naturally fat-free and easier to make than you think!
Way back in 2014, when I first published this recipe, I was downright fearful about attempting an angel food cake. People’s well-meaning advice terrified me: don’t over whip the egg whites; don’t under whip the egg whites; don’t fold in the flour too aggressively; don’t open the oven door prematurely or your cake will fall; don’t over-bake; don’t underbake. The more I read, the further back in the cabinet went the round tube pan until I decided to tie on my big-girl apron and tackle the challenge.
Let me be the first to tell you that Angel Food Cake should not be that daunting. The first one I made was golden brown on the top and moist throughout the cake. The flavor was light and sweet. I have since made hundreds of perfect angel food cakes. I even had a miniature one on the menu at one of the restaurants where I was the pastry chef. As always, I am here to give you all my hard-won advice!
Table of Contents
As your perfectly baked cake cools, I recommend whipping up one of my jelly and jam recipes or sauce recipes as a topping for your angel food cake: Blueberry Sauce, Quick Strawberry Jam, Chocolate Sauce, Caramel Sauce, or go tropical with a pineapple sauce or fresh fruit and whipped cream.
What makes an angel food cake rise?
An angel food cake rises due to the trapped air in the whipped egg whites. The air expands in the oven and then the cake rises. The batter sticks to the pan and “climbs” up the sides as it rises. It is imperative not to grease the pan! You want lots of tiny little air pockets; large air pockets can cause the cake to rise unevenly and fall down.
How to get the perfect airy texture in an angel food cake?
The key to a light and airy angel food cake texture is whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks with the right amount of sugar and then gently folding in the dry ingredients for minimal volume loss. Too much sugar will decrease the volume of the meringue, and the resulting cake will be denser. The same is true for overmixing or folding in the dry ingredients too aggressively.
Why did my angel food cake fall?
Condolences! There are several common causes:
- There is too much sugar in the meringue. Too much sugar will decrease the volume of the meringue, and the resulting cake will be denser.
- There is too much gluten in the flour. I use cake flour, which is lighter and contains less gluten than all-purpose flour. Too much gluten can create a strong network, inhibiting the delicate rise of the egg whites.
- The batter was deflated: Folding in the dry ingredient mixture too aggressively or for too much time can deflate the French meringue. The sugar in the meringue stabilizes and allows you to fold gently in the dry ingredients without too much volume loss.
- Not sifting the dry ingredients will cause lumps, which might cause you to over-mix the batter and deflate the meringue in an attempt to get them out.
- Too many large air pockets can cause the cake to rise unevenly and fall. Swirl a paring knife or small spatula throughout the batter to break up large clumps. I do not suggest tapping the pan because that might also cause it to fall.
- You used a non-stick tube pan. That’s right; this is the only instance where you want those untreated tube pans with the ridges going up the side. The cake needs the ridges and the stickability of a standard tube pan.
- The most critical step to keeping an angel food cake from falling is to cool it upside down!!
Why do you cool angel food cakes upside down?
Cooling an angel food cake upside down allows the crumb (gluten structure and sugar) enough time to set. The set structure is stronger and able to trap the inflated air pockets. Cooling it upside down allows gravity to help you retain the airy texture rather than pulling against the setting structure.
Angel food cake will always deflate a small amount when released from the tube pan because the clinging to the sides of the pan was helping the cake retain its height. This is normal; as long as the cake is completely cool and felt light and airy before cooling.
Do you have to bake angel food cake in a tube pan?
Sadly, you must bake an angel food cake in a tube pan for maximum height. The same batter baked in a rectangular pan will be denser and, more likely, dry.
- Cake Flour: I use cake flour only when absolutely necessary. Angel food cake is one such instance. The lower gluten content and finer texture are essential for getting that light, airy finished cake!
- Powdered Sugar: Powdered sugar or confectioner’s sugar is used to mix in with the cake flour to add sweetness to the cake without weighing down the meringue or batter.
- Egg Whites: The egg whites will be whipped into a meringue. I find separate egg whites make more stable meringues than those from a box.
- Cream of Tartar: Cream of Tartar is a bi-product from the wine making process. In this instance it is being use to stabilize the meringue and also to keep it whiter.
- Granulated Sugar: Sugar is here for sweetness but also to add leavening when beating with the egg whites. It helps create a soft, tender, light texture. I use extra fine sugar in cakes whenever possible to allow it to dissolve more easily and keep the cake light and fluffy.
- Kosher Salt: Kosher salt is lass salty than table salt and a teaspoon weighs less than other finer ground varieties. It heightens the flavor here and will keep your cakes from tasting dull or flat. It also stabilizes the meringue if added to the egg whites prior to whipping.
- Vanilla Extract: Vanilla Extract is here for flavoring so use the best quality you can.
- Almond Extract: Almond extract is here for flavoring. I love this one in particular.
See recipe card for exact ingredients.
Professional Pastry Chef Tip
- The height and airiness of this angel food cake are all about the sift and fold
- Sifting will minimize the difficulty of incorporating lumps, and proper folding will allow you to preserve as much of the meringue’s volume
- Run a knife through the center of the batter.
- Lift the batter of the sliced section from the bottom and fold it over the top
- Rotate the bowl and repeat. Bonus points for folding with one hand and rotating counterclockwise with the other
Angel Food Cake
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 ½ cups egg whites
- 1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla (high quality)
- ½ teaspoon almond extract (high quality)
- About an hour before starting the cake, separate your egg whites from yolks. Cover the yolks with water and refrigerate for a later use. In measuring cup or small bowl let the egg whites warm to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 375° and set rack to middle shelf.
- Sift flour and powdered sugar together and set aside.
- Beat egg whites with cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand or hand mixer until foamy and cream of tartar has distributed evenly throughout whites.
- Beat in sugar 2 tablespoons at a time, on high speed, until stiff and glossy. Add the extracts and salt with the last addition of sugar.
- Remove bowl from stand mixer and sprinkle flour-sugar mixture, ¼ cup at a time, over the meringue, folding it just until the flour-sugar mixture disappears.
- Push batter into an ungreased tube pan, 10x4 inches. Cut gently through batter with a metal spatula or gently tap on counter to settle batter.
- Bake until cracks feel dry and top springs back when touched lightly, 30 to 40 minutes. I removed mine when a tester inserted into one of the cracks came out with only a few clinging crumbs.
- Invert pan on bottle and cool completely.
- To remove cake from pan, gently insert a flat offset spatula against the sides and carefully cut all the way around. You can use a small thin knife or a cake tester to cut around the middle tube. Gently flip cake over on a cooling rack, remove the pan and place the cake right side up with your hands. It should feel as light as air!
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