Best homemade angel food cake recipe! Skip the mix, and make a light and fluffy angel food cake from scratch with this recipe.
Originally published 9/30/12. Last updated 3/25/19.
There are few cake mixes that can rival a homemade cake. The big exception to that statement is the angel food cake.
Some of those mixes make good cakes.
So, why bother to make a homemade angel food cake?
Well, I have three reasons for you.
First, the mixes are fairly pricey as far as mixes go.
Second, they can be hard to find (at least they are around here).
Third, and most importantly, no matter how good the mix is, homemade cakes are better.
How to make angel food cake from scratch
Begin by processing the sugar in a blender or food processor to create super fine sugar.
Sift half of the sugar together with the salt and cake flour.
Set aside the other half of the sugar.
Add the egg whites with extracts, water, and cream of tartar together in a mixing bowl.
Add the reserved sugar while beating the egg whites on medium speed until egg white reach medium peaks.
You’ll know when the egg whites are at medium peaks because they will be thick and glossy. They will also droop over just at the tip when pulled up.
Sift a dusting of flour over the egg whites, and then continue to fold the flour in until incorporated. It’s important to fold in rather than stir the flour in to keep the voluume in the egg whites.
Carefully spoon the batter into the tube pan. You don’t want to just drop it in because that will take some of the volume out of the batter.
Bake, and then cool the baked cake in the pan upside down for at least an hour.
Do I have to use cake flour?
It makes a big difference in the texture of this cake.
If you can’t find cake flour, this DIY cake flour recipe will show you how to make a good substitute.
What makes angel food cake so light and airy?
There are two things that make angel food cake so light and airy – whipped egg whites and cake flour.
Much of the structure of this cake comes from the stabilized egg whites.
Those whipped egg whites are also really light and fluffy.
The cake flour also helps to give the cake its softer texture.
Cake flour is a soft white flour that is lower in protein.
What is the flavor of angel food cake?
Angel food cake has a mild, sweet vanilla flavor.
I add a touch of almond extract to round out the flavor, but that’s an optional addition.
What is the difference between a sponge cake and angel food cake?
The biggest difference between a sponge cake and angel food cake is that sponge cakes contain egg yolks.
Sponge cakes are richer because they contain egg yolks, but both cakes have a similar light and airy texture.
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Angel Food Cake
- 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cake flour sifted
- 12 egg whites from large eggs room temperature
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract optional
- 1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a food processor spin sugar about 2 minutes until it is superfine.
- Sift half of the sugar with the salt and the cake flour, setting the remaining sugar aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together the egg whites, water, extracts, and cream of tartar. Mix together for about 1 minute on low.
- Slowly sift the reserved sugar in, beating continuously at medium speed.
- Once you have achieved medium peaks, sift enough of the flour mixture in to dust the top of the foam. Using a spatula fold in gently.
- Continue until all of the flour mixture is incorporated.
- Carefully spoon mixture into an ungreased tube pan.
- Bake for 35 minutes before checking for doneness with a wooden skewer. (When inserted halfway between the inner and outer wall, the skewer should come out dry).
- Cool upside down on cooling rack for at least an hour before removing from pan.
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Angel food cake recipe video
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Adapted from foodnetwork.com
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Comments & Reviews
Hi Kate. Thank you for the recipe! We are a family of 2 and I would like to either halve this recipe or make two cakes (6 cup tube pan). Any guesstimate on cook time or recommendation on start time for testing for doneness would be greatly appreciated!
Hi! I haven’t baked with a 6 cup tube pan, but I would try 20 minutes and then go from there. Best of luck with it!
Can egg whites in a carton be used?
I haven’t tried using that type of egg white, so I can’t say for certain how it would work.
I made this according to directions and didn’t beat my egg whites until stiff as I normally would. It didn’t turn out as well. Why do you recommend only getting egg whites to medium peaks instead of stiff?
Beating the egg whites to medium peaks allow the egg whites to add enough volume to the cake without overbeating the egg whites. Beating the egg whites to stiff peaks can result in a dense, chewy cake.
Danney Barr says
I have been looking for a “Sour Cream” Angel food cake recipe. I have made many this way but still do not have a proper way of blending in Sour Cream.
Hi! Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with sour cream angel food cakes. I’ve had and made sour cream pound cakes, but I have had an angel cake version.
I tried this recipe and everything was going great. I took it out of the oven and went to put it upside down to cool and it fell out of the pan! I didn’t grease the pan at all. What could have caused this?
There are a few things that could have caused the cake to fall out. First, the cake was underbaked. Second, the middle wasn’t seated properly in the pan. Third, sometimes it just happens! If it’s #3, you can make sure that when you flip it that you’re using something to support the center of the pan rather than just relying on the feet to support it. My mom often used a (heatproof) glass bottle to hold up the center so that that wouldn’t happen. I hope that helps for next time!
Mine did same thing but I had already baked longer than 35 minutes. I wondered why you don’t beat whites until they are stiff? Most recipes say stiff not medium.
If your cake fell, it wasn’t the egg whites. The volume in the egg whites would affect the initial volume, but it wouldn’t cause the cake to fall.
I recommend baking for 35 minutes before you check for doneness. It make take longer to bake because oven temps vary. The 35 minutes was just a starting point. You don’t want to check it before that point because it often causes the cake to fall.
I’ve seen everything from soft peaks to stiff peaks. However, like I said on your other comment, beating the egg whites to stiff peaks often means overbeaten egg whites and a dense, chewy cake.
I have bought sour cream angel food cake in the grocery store. I can not find any recipes on Pinterest or on the internet anywhere. Any suggestions on how to incorporate sour cream in with this recipe? Have you made it with sour cream before?
I’d never heard of a sour cream angel food cake, but it sounds delicious! I did a quick search, and I found this recipe. Hopefully that’s what you’re looking for!
Can corn starch be substituted for cream of tartar?
Hi! No, unfortunately, not. Cream of tartar helps to stabilize the whipped egg whites, and corn starch won’t do the same thing.
Can you replace the cream of tartar with lemon juice? Or something else?
You should be able to replace every 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar with 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar. So, you’d need 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar to replace the cream of tartar in this recipe. =)
My mom used to make me a chocolate angel food cake every year for my birthday when I was young. I have not been able to find a recipe for one. Do you know if cocoa powder could be added to this recipe, or if other changes would be required to make it chocolate?
Hi! I make a marble angel food cake. For the chocolate portion, I just add cocoa powder. I use 1/4 cup for the marble, but I would probably use about 1/2 cup for the entire cake. You may also find that you need to adjust the sugar slightly so the cake doesn’t end up getting any bitterness from the cocoa powder. I hope that helps! =)
If I don’t have a food processor, will this recipe still work with just a hand-held mixer?
Hi! It will. You can use a blender in place of the food processor, or you can purchase superfine sugar. A hand-held mixer should work just fine. It will probably take a little longer to beat the egg whites, but, otherwise, it should work. Hope that helps! =)
Love this cake. Angel food cakes are one of our favorites and this recipe is delicious! It was easy to follow and came out perfectly.
I’m so glad to hear that! Thank you for taking the time to comment! =)
This is a wonderful recipe! The cake was good and the recipe was easy. Thanks!
Kate, thanks! And thanks for sharing your great posts every week!
You are so welcome! Glad that you’re enjoying them! =)
Great recipe! Very easy to follow and comes out great.
I’m so glad! Thanks for commenting! =)
Elizabeth Small says
This cake is awesome, I got the recipe out of a good housekeeping magazine over 30 yrs ago, it was called a dieters delight because of the low calories. My family loves it, I would recommend it to everyone. Thank you for posting it.
Thank you so much! That definitely sounds like a recipe name from that time! =)
I made this cake and it did not rise at all
Angel food cakes don’t “rise” like a leavened cake. The egg whites are whipped, and that is what gives the cake its volume. So, the cake you put in is about the cake you take out of the oven.
I must find organic flour I live in Wodbridge Ontario Canada. You may ask why organic flour ? Well Monsanto has ruined wheet We eat spelt pasta kamut and brown rice pasta.
You certainly can use organic.