Explore this recipe at a glance (1).
Although a simple dessert, angel food cake combines basic ingredients with complex baking techniques resulting in a slice of heaven. It is a low-fat, pristine white cake with a thin light brown exterior. It is a tall, tender, and timeless cake that is worth the time and effort. Follow this recipe to try this heavenly dessert!
What happens to the texture and structure of the cake when certain factors of the recipe are changed? Click here to find out!
This recipe is provided by Jordan Codispoti.
- Wet Ingredients
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). ________________________________________________________________________________ Preheating your oven and allowing it time to reach the correct temperature before you put anything in it is an important thing because if you do not preheat your oven the temperature will not be hot enough resulting in a heavy, undercooked mess. Dry Ingredients
- Spin sugar in a food processor until superfine. ________________________________________________________________________________ An important factor in making angel food cake is having the proper amount of sugar. It does not just act as a sweetener for the cake, but rather has a large effect on the final volume of the cake because it raises the temperature at which the batter sets which gives the cake extra rising time. The rising process causes the batter to stretch and expand which is why the texture of the cake is so light and airy. Sugar in this recipe provides a sweet flavor and stabilizes meringue by slowing the unfolding and aggregation of protein molecules (2). Blending the sugar ensures the cake's light and airy texture.
- Sift half of the sugar with the salt and the cake flour, setting the remaining sugar aside. ________________________________________________________________________________ Cake flour has low gluten content. Low gluten flour is used so that the water in the egg whites does not form too much gluten. The flour used provides a low gluten network structure and imparts color, a result of Maillard’s browning reaction (2). ________________________________________________________________________________ The salt enhances the flavor. Wet Ingredients
- In a large bowl, use a whisk to thoroughly combine egg whites, water, and cream of tartar. After 2 minutes, switch to a hand mixer. Slowly sift in the remaining sugar, beating continuously at medium speed. ________________________________________________________________________________ Since they're easier to separate use the freshest eggs possible. It is important that the eggs are at room temperature because they will produce a foam with a larger volume than cold egg whites. ________________________________________________________________________________ In recipes, eggs can be structure building or weakening. Egg whites are structure building because they can act add lift and act as a leavening agent, while egg yolks weaken structure due to their ability to form gluten. Using only egg whites and avoiding ingredients like butter limit the fat content, thus further limiting gluten formation (3). The fat decreases the ability of the egg white proteins to foam. When you whip egg whites air bubbles are trapped in liquid albumen or the protein found in egg whites. Once the whites are heated, the air bubbles expand causing the egg white proteins to coagulate around the air pockets resulting in the foam structure. It is important to whip the eggs in the perfect amount to achieve the desired volume and texture (4). ________________________________________________________________________________ Cream of tartar is essential to this recipe because it is an acid and helps stabilize and provide structure for the egg whites by holding water and air. Cream of tartar is an egg stabilizer. Cream of tartar is a weak acid that stabilizes egg-white foams by lowering the pH increases the stability of the foam. Eggs hold pockets of air that could destabilize and deflate at any second, but by adding cream of tartar while whipping the eggs the bubbles are strengthened and become stable again (5). ________________________________________________________________________________ It is important to wait until after 2 minutes, or when soft peaks form, to add the sugar because the sugar increases the beating time to get good volume and preserve the structure of the egg proteins.
- Whip with a hand mixer until medium peaks form. ________________________________________________________________________________ The eggs have to be whipped correctly because they are the only things that provide leavening in this recipe. Over-foamed eggs lose their elasticity because the white proteins denature too much, so they cannot return to a state to achieve the necessary light and fluffy texture (5). Combining Dry & Wet
- 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. ________________________________________________________________________________ Folding gently helps preserve the volume and avoid egg white deflation.
- Carefully spoon the mixture into an ungreased tube pan. ________________________________________________________________________________ A metal tube pan is important when making an angel food cake. The material possesses heat conduction properties that absorb heat and adapt to heat change in the oven to evenly heat the cake. Its unique shape with a hole in the middle allows for heat to flow through and cook the center fully. More surface area is exposed to heat faster to get the whole cooked evenly. Baking
- Bake 375°F (190°C) for 35 minutes. ________________________________________________________________________________ By using the oven to bake this cake, convection heat transfer takes place. Heat is transferred by the movement of molecules from a warm region to a cooler region within the oven. It provides even heating from all directions and bakes batter from outside to the center.
- Check doneness with a wooden skewer. ________________________________________________________________________________ Checking the doneness after 35 minutes is important because opening the oven door before this time could be detrimental to the oven environment and cause your cake to deflate and lose its airiness. Cooling
- Cool upside down on the cooling rack for an hour before carefully removing it from the pan. ________________________________________________________________________________ When the egg whites rise in the oven, they are not completely set since they are so delicate, and the cake has such little flour. Keeping the cake upside down avoids the cake’s collapse (6). Maintaining the cake's texture is important in every step of the baking process.
- Chu, Michael. “Strawberry Glazed Angel Food Cake.” Atom 10, CFE Enterprises, Inc., 23 Dec. 2004, http://www.cookingforengineers.com/recipe/83/Strawberry-Glazed-Angel-Food-Cake.
- “Angel Food Cake: Baking Processes.” BAKERpedia, 7 Sept. 2021,https://bakerpedia.com/processes/angel-food-cake/.
- “Protein: Foam Formation.” IFST, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 22 June 2018, https://www.ifst.org/lovefoodlovescience/resources/protein-foam-formation
- Singh, Ajaypal, David J Geveke, Deana R Jones, and Eric D Tilman. “Can Acceptable QualityAngel Food Cakes Be Made Using Pasteurized Shell Eggs? The Effects of MixingFactors on Functional Properties of Angel Food Cakes.” Food science & nutrition 7, no.3 (2019): 987–996.
- Medrich, Alice. “For Perfectly Whipped Egg Whites, Add a Little Pinch of This.” Food52, Food52, 19 Nov. 2019,https://food52.com/blog/17827-for-perfectly-whipped-egg-whites-lofty-meringues-add-a-little-pinch-of-this.
- Annalise. “Cooling Angel Food Cake Upside Down.” Completely Delicious, CAFEMEDIA FOOD PUBLISHER, 18 Apr. 2017, https://www.completelydelicious.com/tips/cooling-angel-food-cake-upside/.