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 under bake. 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 pre-culinary school was perfectly browned on the top and moist throughout the whole 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 pass on all my hard-won advice to you!
Table of Contents
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. This is why it is imperative not to grease the pan! You want lots of little tiny air pockets because large ones can cause it to rise unevenly and then fall.
How to get the perfect airy texture in an angel food cake?
The key to a light and airy texture in angel food cake is whipping the egg whites just to stiff peaks with the right amount of sugar and then efficiently folding in the dry ingredients to lose a little volume as possible. Too much sugar will decrease the volume of the meringue and the resulting cake will be more dense. The same is true of 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 more dense.
- There is too much gluten in the flour. I use cake flour, which is lighter and also contains less gluten than all-purpose flour. Too much gluten can create a strong network, which might inhibit 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 it and allows you to gently fold 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 then fall. Swirl a paring knife or small spatula throughout the batter to break up an large clumps. I do not suggest tapping the pan because that might cause it to fall as well.
- You used a non-stick tube pan. That’s right, this is the only instance where you want those un-treated, tube pans with the ridges going up the side. The cake needs the ridges and the stickability of a standard tube pan.
- The single most important 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) time to set. The set structure is stronger and more able to trap the inflated air pockets. Cooling it upside down allows gravity to help you retain that airy texture rather than pulling against the setting structure.
Angel food cakes will always deflate a little bit when released from the tube pan because the clinging to the sides was helping it retain it’s height. Don’t stress. This is normal and as long as the cake is completely cool and was light and airy prior to cooling, it will only deflate a little bit when removed.
Do you have to bake angel food cake in a tube pan?
Sadly, you much bake an angel food cake in a tube pan for maximum height. The same batter baked in a rectangular pan will be more dense, and more likely than not, 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 is all about the sift and fold. Sifting will minimize the difficult to incorporate lumps and proper folding will allow you to preserve as much of the meringue’s volume. Take rubber spatula slice it through the center of the batter and then lift that section of batter from the bottom and fold it over the top. Rotate the bowl and repeat. Bonus points for folding with one hand and simultaneously rotating counterclockwise with the other!
Angel Food Cake
- 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!