Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake from Scratch

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Learn how to make a homemade gluten-free angel food cake that's light, fluffy, and just heavenly. It's a super easy recipe for a classic dessert, best served with fresh strawberries.

One of my grandma's favorite desserts when I was growing up was homemade angel food cake. She loved making it throughout the spring and summer months, especially when berry season rolled around.

sliced gluten-free angel food cake on green cake stand

Having never made angel food cake from scratch, I always thought it was a more difficult recipe to make, especially gluten-free. But not so; it's actually quite easy, and besides the almost dozen eggs, it only uses a handful of ingredients.

I love the soft, bouncy texture of angel cake. And I love eating it with strawberries that soak into the cake and make it even more delicious than it already is all by itself.

Unlike the somewhat heavier texture of pound cake, angel food cake is really light and fluffy. And I love the golden brown, slightly crunchy, crispy outer layer that's chock full of heavenly flavor, no pun intended.

If you've never made this cake before, you're in for a real treat. You can even use it to make a delicious strawberry delight with angel food cake.

Why Is It Called Angel Food Cake?

Angel food cake is a type of sponge cake that's made with egg whites and cream of tartar. It has a really fluffy texture to it, almost bouncy from whipping the egg whites to soft peaks.

slice of gluten-free angel cake with strawberries on white plate with fork, with green cake stand behind

Regular sponge cakes differ in look and texture because they're made with both the egg whites and the yolks. They often include butter in the recipe, as well.

Ingredient Notes:

  • Cane sugar – You can also use granulated sugar.
  • Powdered sugar
  • Gluten-free all-purpose flour – I recommend my favorite Authentic Foods Classical Blend flour. This flour is my favorite because it can make my family's favorite recipes taste just like the original, only they're gluten-free.
  • Cream of tartar
  • Salt
  • Egg whites – Have them ready to go, at room temperature.
  • Vanilla extract

Also, one equipment note… I recommend using a tube pan rather than a bundt cake pan, because a bundt pan isn't deep enough, and it may be difficult to remove the cake from all the grooves in the pan.

How to Make Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake

Before you get started mixing up the cake batter, pre-heat the oven to 350° F, and prep all your ingredients, including the eggs.

You can separate the egg whites from the yolks by using an egg separator, or by using my grandmother's method of tossing the yolk back and forth between the two parts of the shell and letting the white run down into a bowl.

It's very important to not get any yolk mixed into the whites, because the smallest bit of yolk can prevent your whites from forming the peaks your cake batter needs.

Once your eggs are separated and you've gathered your ingredients, follow these steps to mix up the cake batter…

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients together, including the sugar, powdered sugar, flour, xanthan gum, and salt.
  2. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together with a mixer, until they form soft peaks (see FAQ's below for how to form soft peaks).
  3. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites by hand.
  4. Add the vanilla extract, and gently mix.
how to make gluten-free angel food cake recipe, in stainless steel mixing bowl

Spread the batter into an ungreased tube pan, and bake at 350° F for about 1 hour, or until a cake tester comes out clean. It's very important that your cake pan be ungreased because you actually want your cake to stick to the sides and bottom of the pan.

angel food cake batter in tube pan

When your cake comes out of the oven, immediately turn it upside down to cool for about 1 hour. You can put it on a wire rack, or you can turn it upside down, placing the tube part of your pan on the neck of a bottle or on a can.

Once your cake has cooled completely, run a knife around the edge, and remove the cake from the pan. Then slice and serve, preferably with fresh berries and whipped cream.

baked angel food cake from scratch in metal tube pan, or angel food cake pan, with light blue kitchen towel

Expert Tips and Recipe FAQ's

How do you form soft peaks?

You've heard the term soft peaks, and you've heard the term stiff peaks. With this recipe, we want soft peaks. What that means is you need to whip the egg whites into soft peaks. Soft peaks will melt back into the mixture before you can even get them out of the mixing bowl, whereas stiff peaks tend to keep their shape. The reason you want soft is because you want them to continue to rise as the cake bakes. If you've over whipped your batter and have stiff peaks, your cake may collapse while baking.

Can I add flavoring?

As a matter of fact, you can add flavorings to your cake. Just be sure any extracts you use don't have any oil listed in the ingredients. You can use almond extract, orange extract, lemon extract, maple extract, and more. You can just switch out part or all of the vanilla for the extract of your choosing.

Why do I need to cool the cake upside down?

This is a really important step because, if you leave your cake upright, it will fall in, or collapse, on itself. If it falls, you won't have the light and fluffy cake that you so crave. You see, this cake has a lot less flour than your typical cake. The egg whites are what help it to rise, and if they're not allowed to cool upside down, well, they just can't hold themselves up. I talked about placing the tube of the pan onto the neck of a bottle or a can. But some angel food cake pans come with little feet that help the pan to stand upside down on its own. This cake pan is one example.

Can you freeze angel food cake?

Yes, you can. In fact, you can leave it whole or slice it and freeze it. Just be sure to cover it with plastic wrap and aluminum foil, and place it in either a freezer bag or airtight container to prevent freezer burn.

slice of homemade angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream on white plate with fork

Toppings to Serve with Angel Food Cake

You can serve your cake with any number of delicious toppings, including…

  • Fresh berries – strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.
  • Whipped Cream
  • Chocolate ganache
  • Strawberry syrup
  • Orange marmalade
  • Peach jam
  • Strawberry jam
  • Blackberry jam

The list could go on and on.

bite of angel food cake with strawberries on white plate with fork

If you try this recipe, why not leave a star rating in the recipe card right below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page? I always appreciate your feedback. You can also follow my on Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. And subscribe to my email list too!

sliced gluten-free angel food cake on green cake stand

Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake from Scratch

How to make homemade gluten-free angel food cake that's light and fluffy. Easy recipe, classic dessert, best served with fresh strawberries.
4 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Cakes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Cooling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 185kcal
Author: Mel Lockcuff

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour*
  • 1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 11 egg whites at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350° F.
  • Whisk the dry ingredients together, including the sugar, powdered sugar, flour, xanthan gum, and salt.
  • Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together with a mixer until they form soft peaks.
  • Gently fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites by hand.
  • Add the vanilla extract, and gently mix.
  • Spread the batter into an ungreased tube pan, and bake at 350° F for about 1 hour, or until a cake tester comes out clean. It's very important that your cake pan be un-greased because you want your cake to stick to the sides and bottom of the pan. You'll see why in the next step.
  • When your cake comes out of the oven, immediately turn it upside down to cool for about 1 hour. You can put it on a wire rack, or you can turn it upside down, placing the tube part of your pan on the neck of a bottle or on a can.
  • Once your cake has cooled completely, run a knife around the edge, and remove the cake from the pan.
  • Then slice and serve, preferably with fresh berries and whipped cream.

Notes

*I make this recipe with Authentic Foods Classical Blend gluten-free flour. Time and time again, it has consistently given me the best results. Keep in mind, different gluten-free flours can give different results.
LET'S TALK ABOUT SOFT PEAKS
You've heard the term soft peaks, and you've heard the term stiff peaks. With this recipe, we want soft peaks. What that means is you need to whip the egg whites into soft peaks. Soft peaks will melt back into the mixture before you can even get them out of the mixing bowl, whereas stiff peaks tend to keep their shape.
The reason you want soft is because you want them to continue to rise as the cake bakes. If you've over whipped your batter and have stiff peaks, your cake may collapse while baking.
WHY DO I NEED TO COOL THE CAKE UPSIDE DOWN?
This is a really important step because, if you leave your cake upright, it will fall in, or collapse, on itself. If it falls, you won't have the light and fluffy cake that you so crave.
You see, this cake has a lot less flour than your typical cake. The egg whites are what help it to rise, and if they're not allowed to cool upside down, well, they just can't hold themselves up.
I talked about placing the tube of the pan onto the neck of a bottle or a can. But some angel food cake pans come with little feet that help the pan to stand upside down on its own. This cake pan is one example.
CAN YOU FREEZE ANGEL FOOD CAKE?
Yes, you can. In fact, you can leave it whole or slice it and freeze it. Just be sure to cover it with plastic wrap and aluminum foil, and place it in either a freezer bag or airtight container to prevent freezer burn.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 185kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 72mg | Potassium: 129mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 35g | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg
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2 thoughts on “Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake from Scratch”

  1. Who ever wrote this recipe made a big mistake. Instead of putting the cream of tartar in the egg whites as it should be, they’re saying to sift it with the flour. The whole purpose of cream of tartar is to stabilize the eggs whites.

    Reply

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