Easy Angel Food Cake from Scratch

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How to make a heavenly, homemade angel food cake that's light and fluffy. 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 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. 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.

WHERE CAN I FIND THE ACTUAL RECIPE CARD?

If you’d rather skip all of my cake making tips, important info for this recipe, and similar recipe ideas – and get straight to the angel food cake recipe – just scroll down to the bottom, where you’ll find a printable recipe card.

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 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.

ANGEL FOOD CAKE INGREDIENTS YOU'LL NEED:

Keep in mind, all of the ingredient amounts you’ll need are in the printable recipe card below.

KITCHEN TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT YOU'LL NEED:

Egg Separator

Sifter

Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer with Mixing Bowl

Spatula

Tube Pan – Makes an excellent angel food cake pan. I don't recommend using a bundt cake pan because it isn't deep enough, and it may be difficult to remove the cake from all the grooves in the pan.

Cake Tester

Wire Rack

HOW TO MAKE THE BEST 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. Using a sifter, sift the dry ingredients together, including the sugar, powdered sugar, flour, cream of tartar, and salt.
  2. Beat the egg whites with a mixer, until they form soft peaks.
  3. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites by hand.
  4. Add the vanilla extract, and gently mix.
steps for how to make angel food cake, including sifting the dry ingredients, whipping the egg whites into soft peaks, adding dry ingredients to egg whites, and adding vanilla to cake batter in metal KitchenAid 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

CAN I MAKE A GLUTEN-FREE ANGEL FOOD CAKE?

Yes, you can. Just substitute a really good, cup for cup, gluten-free flour; I prefer to use Authentic Foods Classical Blend. You'll also need a little bit of xanthan gum.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THOSE 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 FLAVOR MY ANGEL CAKE?

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.

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

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.

bite of angel food cake with strawberries 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.

GET THE PRINTABLE RECIPE

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Angel Food Cake Recipe

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Yield: 12

Easy Angel Food Cake from Scratch

Easy Angel Food Cake from Scratch

How to make a heavenly, homemade angel food cake that's light and fluffy. Easy recipe for a classic dessert, best served with fresh strawberries.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Cooling Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F.
  2. 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 you need.
  3. Using a sifter, sift the dry ingredients together, including the sugar, powdered sugar, flour, cream of tartar, and salt.
  4. Beat the egg whites with a mixer, until they form soft peaks.
  5. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites by hand.
  6. Add the vanilla extract, and gently mix.
  7. 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 want your cake to stick to the sides and bottom of the pan. You'll see why in the next step.
  8. 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.
  9. Once your cake has cooled completely, run a knife around the edge, and remove the cake from the pan.
  10. Then slice and serve, preferably with fresh berries and whipped cream.

Notes

*or granulated sugar.

*You can substitute a really good, cup for cup, gluten-free flour; I prefer to use Authentic Foods Classical Blend. You'll also need a little bit of xanthan gum.

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.

CAN I FLAVOR MY ANGEL CAKE?

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.

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

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 188Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 72mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 0gSugar: 34gProtein: 4g

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