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Which ingredient in angel food cake gives it a light, airy texture?

Angel food cake is unique, and no other cake recipe compares to its extraordinarily fluffy, airy texture. Though it’s a type of sponge cake, it differs from other popular recipes because it’s traditionally made using no butter or oil in the batter. Instead, beaten egg whites are responsible for the ultra-light texture. Most angel food cake recipes usually have a light vanilla flavor that lets you dress them up any way you want with icing, fresh fruit, or other sweet toppings. Follow these instructions to bake the tastiest angel food cake from scratch, including what to do if you don’t have a tube pan.

How to Make Angel Food Cake

Follow us as we polish this traditional cake recipe step by step.

Step 1: Separate the Egg Whites

Separate the yolks from the whites as soon as the eggs are removed from the fridge (cold eggs separate more easily). This is made simple by an egg separator ($7, Bed Bath & Beyond). Separate each egg white carefully into a tiny dish, such as a custard cup. If any yolk gets into the egg white during separation, refrigerate that white for another use—even the tiniest bit of yolk can affect the beating quality of the whites. Let the whites stand at room temperature for 30 minutes—this will allow them to reach their full volume when beaten. (Save the yolks for another purpose.) Let the whites to remain at room temperature for no more than 30 minutes for food safety concerns.

Fill an extra-large glass dish halfway with egg whites. The dish should be spotless and large enough to protect the beaters from becoming buried in the egg whites as they fluff. Don’t use a plastic bowl, which may have an oily residue that can minimize the volume of beaten egg whites.

Step 2: Sift Powdered Sugar and Flour

While the egg whites are resting, combine the flour and powdered sugar, then sift three times. Sifting will help remove any lumps from the flour and aerate the mixture, which will help make your cake light and fluffy.

Step 3: Beat Together Ingredients

On medium to high speed, whip the egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. When the beaters are raised, the tops of the egg whites should curl. The cream of tartar helps to solidify the egg whites, resulting in a whiter cake.

Step 4: Beat in Sugar Until Stiff Peaks Form

Gradually add the granulated sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, to allow the sugar to dissolve completely in the egg white mixture. Beat at medium to high speed until stiff peaks—tips of the egg whites stand straight up— Overbeat or underbeat the egg whites; they should be firm but not dry or your cake will collapse. After you begin beating the egg whites, it should take around 4 minutes on high speed with a hand mixer to make firm peaks.

Step 5: Fold in the Flour

Fold the sifted flour mixture, one-fourth at a time, into the egg whites. To be folded:

  • With a spatula, cut down vertically through the mixture.
  • Move the spatula across the bottom of the bowl.
  • Bring it back up the opposite side, spreading part of the mixture from the bottom.
  • Continue, moving the bowl, until the ingredients are well incorporated.

The goal is to gently mix the ingredients without losing all of the air you just beat into the egg whites. Overmixing will reduce the volume of the batter and result in a difficult cake.

Step 6: Eliminate Air Bubbles

For a fine, even cake texture, eliminate large air bubbles by gently cutting through batter with a thin metal spatula after pouring the batter into an ungreased tube pan . Can you bake angel food cake in a bundt pan if you don’t have a tube pan? It may seem that the two are interchangeable, but the delicate decorations on most bundt pans make getting an angel food cake out of the pan in one piece quite difficult. Tube pans feature flat tops and straight edges to make it simpler to remove the cake, and the batter adheres to the sides and central tube while the cake bakes, allowing it to rise. If at all feasible, use a tube pan.

If you don’t have a tube pan, you may use angel food cupcakes. Just be sure to reduce the baking time to follow a cupcake recipe instead.

Step 7: Bake and Cool Angel Food Cake

In a preheated oven, bake angel food cake according to package guidelines. When the cake becomes golden and bounces back when softly touched, it is done. Unlike many other baking recipes, you cannot use the toothpick test to determine whether angel food cake is done. Since the batter is so light and airy, a toothpick can slide in and come out clean before the cake is completely finished baking. To set, cool the angel food cake upside down (in the pan).

More Tips for Baking the Best Angel Food Cake

Just following the directions on your recipe will result in a delicious angel food cake. But if a flawless dessert is your goal, these extra tips might help:

  • Use just the items specified in the recipe, such as cake flour and powdered sugar. Cake flour is lighter and lower in protein than all-purpose flour, which contributes to the fluffiness of angel food cake. Likewise, powdered sugar has much smaller granules than regular white sugar, which will help it easily mix into the cake batter without weighing it down.
  • If you’re in a pinch for ingredients and need to know how to make angel food cake without cream of tartar, substitute lemon juice or white vinegar. Cream of tartar helps to stabilize the egg whites and provide volume, but any alternative will work.
  • It may go against most of your baking inclinations, but bake angel food cake in an ungreased pan and leave the nonstick spray in the cupboard. The cake should cling to the edges of the pan because it helps the super-light batter rise. If you grease the pan, the cake will be flat and dense.
  • You may save time by skipping a few steps and learning how to bake angel food cake from a box mix. Some box mixes even remove the need for egg whites; all you have to do is add water, mix, and bake according to the package directions! Premade angel food cake mixes are very useful for accelerating dishes that call for angel food cake as a basis, such as trifles.
  • Always chill your angel food cake with the open side down in the cake pan. Angel food cake will continue to set as it cools, and it can sink down in the pan and collapse if you don’t flip it to cool.
  • Use a serrated knife to cut angel food cake once you remove it from the pan. Knives without serrations may squish the fragile cake.

Now your cake is ready to serve as part of your Easter meal, birthday celebration, springtime gathering, or any other occasion when a light dessert would be appropriate.

Related Questions

  • What gives angel food cake its airy texture?

    beaten egg whites

    Angel food cake is unique, and no other cake recipe compares to its extraordinarily fluffy, airy texture. Despite it is a sort of sponge cake, it varies from other popular recipes in that the batter is usually baked without the use of butter or oil. Instead, beaten egg whites are responsible for the ultra-light texture.

  • How can I make my cake more airy?

    How to Prevent a Dry or Dense Cake

    1. Make use of Cake Flour. Reach for cake flour instead of all-purpose flour.
    2. Add Sour Cream.
    3. Room Temperature Butter / Don’t Over-Cream.
    4. Add a Touch of Baking Powder or Baking Soda.
    5. Add Oil.
    6. Don’t Over-Mix.
    7. Don’t Over-Bake.
    8. Brush With Simple Syrup/Other Liquid.
  • Why is my angel food cake not fluffy?

    Make sure the yolk is completely gone. Even a small trace of yolk in egg whites will prevent them from whipping to their fullest. After separating, allow egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes so they will get fluffy when beaten.

  • What makes dough more airy?

    Carbon dioxide is responsible for all of the bubbles in bread that make it lighter and fluffier. Since gas is produced by yeast development, the more yeast that grows, the more gas in the dough and the lighter and airier your bread loaf will be.