Angel food cake is light in texture, low-fat, sweet and very versatile. You can serve it with fruit compote on the side, a scoop of ice cream or sorbet or even a dollop of Lemon Curd (especially one that uses up the leftover egg yolks). The optional almond extract adds a lovely flavor that balances out the inherent sweetness. Note that you do need superfine sugar for this recipe and you can make your own by buzzing regular granulated sugar in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.
Images: Peter Muka
- 1 cup sifted bleached cake flour
- 1⅓ cups superfine sugar, divided into ⅔ cup and ⅔ cup
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups egg whites (from 12 to 13 large eggs), at room temperature
- 1¼ teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1 tablespoon water (optional; see Tip below)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. You will need a 10-inch, two-piece (loose bottom) tube pan; leave it ungreased.
- Whisk together the flour, ⅔ cup superfine sugar and salt in a medium bowl to combine and aerate; set aside.
- In a large, clean, grease-free bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining ⅔ cup superfine sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Beat in water, lemon juice, vanilla and almond extract (if using).
- Sprinkle about one-third of dry mixture over meringue and begin to combine by hand using a large balloon whisk. Add another third of dry mixture, continue folding with whisk, then add remaining dry mixture. Use a folding action with the whisk until well combined, taking care not to deflate batter. Carefully spoon mixture into ungreased tube pan, smoothing the top with a small offset spatula.
- Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until a wooden skewer tests clean. Immediately prop cake pan upside to cool completely. If your pan has feet, as ours does in the image, you can invert on a rack, otherwise prop the pan upside down on the neck of thin bottle. Once it has cooled, run a thin knife around edge of cake and unmold. The flat bottom of the cake is now the top. Cake is ready to serve. May be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days under an airtight cake dome.
- We like using bleached cake flour for this recipe. Try either Pillsbury’s Softasilk or King Arthur’s Guinevere (7% protein). The lower the protein the more tender the cake and that’s what you want in an angel food cake.
- Angel food cake is very delicate and can be affected by its surroundings. If it is very humid outside, eliminate the water.
- Note that you use the pan ungreased. This allows the meringue-based batter to cling and climb up the sides of the pan. Don’t worry! It will unmold.
- Angel food cake is so light-textured that using conventional knives to cut into them will compress and crush the cake. An angel food cake cutter (seen above) does the trick.