If you’ve ever had bad airline food, looked out from your window seat, and wished you could eat cloud instead, it would probably be a lot like having angel food cake. Light, airy, and sweet, a generous wedge of angel food is interesting enough on its own but even better served with fruits or chocolate.
Its springiness makes angel food poke-worthy (get your mind out of the gutter, please). As you press down on it with your finger, you can actually hear it sighing, as if to say “What the hell?” It puffs and heaves as it struggles back to shape when you let go. Playing around with angel food is probably one of the most interesting tactile experiences in the kitchen. As long as no one’s watching behind you.
Did I also mention that angel food is fat-free? It’s too bad that it isn’t also calorie-free, though — angel food is typically equal parts egg white and sugar by weight.
General guidelines for making angel food cake:
- Watch out for gold fish
The smallest speck of egg yolk in your egg whites might be enough to ruin a batch. Fat keeps the egg white proteins from holding onto each other to create a stable foam. You’ll still get a meringue, but it will be denser, less stable, and take longer to develop.
- Use room temperature (good) or slightly warmed (better) egg whites
Cream of tartar, which is derived from tartaric acid, helps create a lighter and more stable foam.
- Whip only to soft-medium peaks
- Cool the cake upside down
Use an angel food or tube cake pan with legs or with a center tube higher than the lip of the pan. This allows you to cool the cake upside down, preventing the cake from deflating and collapsing on itself. If only hockey puck souffles can be fixed in the same way.
Angel Food Cake Recipe
makes one 10-inch tube cake
Ingredients Volume Ounces Grams cake flour 1 cup 5.0 141 confectioner's sugar #1 1 1/2 cups 6.6 187 salt 1/3 tsp egg whites from large eggs 12 13.2 375 cream of tartar 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 tsp confectioner's sugar #2 1 1/2 cups 6.6 187
- A bleached low-protein or soft flour is a suitable substitute for cake flour.
Preheat Oven 350ºF / 180ºC with a rack placed in the lower third of the oven Prepare an ungreased 10-inch tube pan Mix (Angel Food Method) Mix together the cake flour, salt, and the first half of the sugar. Sift and reserve. Using a surgically clean bowl and whisk, whip the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and vanilla extract. Whip to soft peaks. Gradually beat in the second half of the sugar (that was not sifted with the cake flour). Continue to whip only until the egg whites form soft to medium glossy peaks. Avoid overwhipping the egg whites to stiff peaks. Using a wide rubber spatula, gently fold in the cake flour and sugar by sifting onto the top of the egg whites a little at time. It will take about 4 additions. Continue folding only until the cake flour and sugar are absorbed. It's okay to have a few dry or lumpy spots. Pan Gently deposit the egg whites into the ungreased angel food cake pan. Shake the pan gently to level and bake immediately. Bake 350ºF / 180ºC for 35 minutes, until a cake tester or wooden skewer comes out clean. Cool Let the cake cool upside down at room temperature before unmolding, about 1 to 2 hours.
It won’t fall off.