Angel Food Cake

This light as air angel food cake is made entirely from scratch in a classic tube pan. Made with just 6 ingredients this fluffy cake is easier than you think to make. Serve it up with fresh whipped cream, berries, or ice cream for a light dessert you can enjoy all spring and summer long!

Slices of angel food cake on plates with blueberries and raspberries.

For as much of a chocoholic as I am today, angel food cake was one of my all-time favorite desserts when I was growing up. As far as I can remember, no one in my family made them from scratch, but they were a Sunday staple at my grandma’s house during the summer.

Angel food cake is one of those store-bought favorites that I had been wanting to make from scratch for a long time. I did for the first time about eight years ago, and it was good, but I thought it could be better. I made a few tweaks and arrived at this absolutely phenomenal angel food cake recipe.

The Ingredients

Angel food cake is made with only six ingredients (and you may have all of them in your pantry right now!).

Ingredients for angel food cake prepped and labeled.
  • Cake Flour: We use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour because it has a lower protein content and will ensure a soft and tender crumb.
  • Granulated Sugar: To sweeten the cake!
  • Salt: Balances out the sweet and brings out all the wonderful flavors.
  • Egg Whites: The star of the show! Angel food cake relies upon egg whites for all of its leavening. Using only whites (no yolks) gives this cake its super light texture.
  • Cream of Tartar: This helps to stabilize the egg whites and keep them from deflating.
  • Vanilla Extract: Delicious flavor! See the notes below for other flavor options.

Flavoring Ideas

Looking for some ways to add a little flavor to this Angel Food Cake? Try swapping out the vanilla extract with:

  • Almond extract
  • Orange extract
  • Lemon extract
  • Or use them in combination with the vanilla to adjust the flavoring.

🌟 Be sure to check the label on your extracts! If there is any oil (which is sometimes included in flavored extracts) it can prevent the eggs from forming stiff peaks.

Step-by-Step Directions

There are only a few steps standing between you and a phenomenal angel food cake!

  • Prepare for baking: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Have an ungreased 16-cup tube pan ready.
  • Sift, sift, sift!: Sift half of the sugar with flour and salt. Repeat 5 times.
  • Beat until frothy: Beat egg whites on low until frothy, then add vanilla extract and cream of tartar.
Side by side photos of sifting flour into a bowl and whipped egg whites.
  • Add remaining sugar: Increase the speed to medium, adding remaining sugar one tablespoon at a time. 
  • Beat until stiff peaks: Once all the sugar is added increase the speed to medium-high and beat until stiff, glossy peaks, scraping sides and bottom of the bowl once or twice as needed.
  • Add flour: Sift about 1/4 cup of the flour mixture on top and fold gently to incorporate. Repeat until all flour is used.
Flour being folded into whipped egg whites in a glass bowl.
  • Transfer to tube pan: Spoon into tube pan, smooth the top, then run a knife through the batter to break any air bubbles.
  • Bake until a skewer inserted halfway between the edge and the center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Photo of angel food cake batter being spooned into tube pan. Butter knife going through batter in pan.

Cooling Directions

  • Cool upside down until completely cool, at least 1 hour.
  • Footed Pan: If the pan has little feet on the bottom, you can simply set it upside down to cool on a wire rack.
  • Unfooted pan: If it does not have feet, then you will want to invert the pan onto the neck of a glass bottle for the cooling process.
  • Serve: Once completely cooled, run a knife around the edge and turn the cake out onto a serving dish, run a knife around the bottom, and release.
Overhead photo of a baked angel food cake still in tube pan.

FAQ and Troubleshooting Tips:

What is the difference between angel food cake, sponge cake, and chiffon cake?

Angel food cakes use no fat at all and no chemical leaveners; they rely only on whipped egg whites that have been stabilized with cream of tartar to give the cake its volume.

Sponge cakes typically use butter for the fat, and it is creamed into the sugar. Eggs are added either whole or separated with the whites whipped into stiff peaks and folded into the cake batter.

Chiffon cakes set themselves apart by using vegetable oil as the fat source. To get high volume, eggs are separated and the whites are whipped to stiff peaks and folded into the batter.

Do you have to use a tube pan to make angel food cake?

A tube pan is a specialty pan that is used for angel food cakes and chiffon cakes. The tall sides and inner tube allow the cake to “climb” the pan and cling to the sides while it bakes (which is why you never grease these pans!). Perhaps even more important are the “feet” that allow the cakes to cool upside down without the top of the cake touching the counter or a cooling rack. This is vital in ensuring that the cakes maintain their volume and do not collapse.

Baking an angel food cake in a traditional cake pan or Bundt pan will unfortunately not work; the cake will fall.

Why is my angel food cake falling?

There are three main reasons your cake may fall:

(1) Opening the oven door – This releases heat from the oven and can cause the cake to collapse while baking. Wait until the minimum baking time has elapsed before checking for doneness.

(2) Incorrect oven temperature – If the oven is too hot, the exterior of the cake will bake quicker than the interior, causing the cake to collapse as it cools. Get an oven thermometer to ensure your oven is calibrated correctly and adjust the temperature as needed so the interior of the oven is 350 degrees F for baking.

(3) Cooled in the pan incorrectly – Inverting the pan ensures that the cake continues to expand and holds its shape once cooled. If you cool the pan right side up instead of upside down, the cake will collapse on itself.

Why is my angel food cake tough?

Angel food cake should be light and airy; if the texture is tough, the flour may have been mixed in with too heavy a hand. If too much air escapes from the whipped egg whites after they are beaten, it will result in a tough texture.

Also, make sure your eggs are not expired; fresher eggs create a more stable foam for a super light texture.

Overhead photo of angel food cake with multiple pieces sliced off of it.

Important Recipe Tips

Here are some additional notes to ensure your angel food cake is the BEST EVER!

  • Separate the eggs when they are cold, they separate easier, then allow the eggs to come to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe. 
  • How many eggs you use will vary based on the size of the egg and the size of the yolk in each individual egg. I typically only need 10 eggs to get 1½ cups of egg whites, but most recipes say 11 or 12 is the average.
  • While the mixing is easiest with a stand mixer using a whisk attachment or a hand mixer, you can whisk the egg whites by hand using a balloon whisk and elbow grease!
  • A tube pan is essential for this recipe; you want one that has a 16-cup capacity – this is the one I use.
  • Very important – DO NOT GREASE THE PAN. The cake needs to cling to the sides of the pan in order to rise, as well as during the cooling process. This ensures that the angel food cake will be high and retain its volume. If your tube pan does not have a removable bottom, then line the bottom only with parchment paper for an easier release.
A piece of angel food cake on a white plate with a fork, blueberries, and raspberries, with other plated slices in the background.

Serving Suggestions

It’s super important that when cutting angel food cake, you use a sharp, serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion (I use my favorite bread knife). Using a straight-edge knife and/or cutting straight down will smoosh the cake.

A few ways you can dish out this cake include:

Storing and Making Ahead

  • Storing: Keep tightly wrapped with plastic wrap in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days for maximum freshness.
  • Making Ahead: Angel food cake can be prepared one day in advance; once cooled completely and removed from the tube pan, cover with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature.
  • Freezing Instructions: To freeze, wrap it (either the whole cake or individual slices) tightly in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil. Place in a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to 4 months. Thaw at room temperature when you are ready to serve.
Angel food cake slice with a forkful taken out, along with blueberries and raspberries.

If You Love Angel Food Cake, Try These Recipes Next:

Light as air and virtually fat-free, angel food cake is the dessert of your dreams! If you haven’t tackled angel food cake from scratch yet, I highly recommend it. Not too difficult and very rewarding, you’re in for an absolute treat!

If you make this recipe and love it, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! ❤️️

Angel Food Cake

Servings 12 servings
Prep 30 minutes
Cook 40 minutes
Total 1 hour 10 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Michelle

This easy to make angel food cake bakes up beautifully for a light and airy dessert perfect for spring and summer celebrations!

Ingredients:

  • 1
    cup
    cake flour
    (sifted)
  • cups
    granulated sugar
    (divided)
  • ¼
    teaspoon
    salt
  • cups
    egg whites
    (at room temperature)
  • teaspoons
    cream of tartar
  • 1
    teaspoon
    vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Have an ungreased 16-cup tube pan ready.

  2. Sift half of sugar with flour and salt. Repeat 5 times.

  3. Beat egg whites on low until frothy, then add vanilla extract and cream of tartar. Increase to medium, adding remaining sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase to medium-high and beat until stiff, glossy peaks, scraping sides and bottom of bowl once or twice as needed. Sift about ¼ cup flour mixture on top and fold gently to incorporate; repeat until all flour is used.

  4. Spoon into tube pan, smooth the top, then run a knife through batter to break any air bubbles. Bake until skewer inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes.

  5. Cool upside down at least 1 hour. Run knife around edge and turn out onto serving dish; run knife around bottom and release. Place on a serving platter, slice and serve. Angel food cake is best the day it is made, but can be stored for up to 2 days at room temperature, wrapped well in plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes:

  • Equipment: A tub pan is essential for this recipe; you want one that has a 16-cup capacity – this is the one I use.
  • Do NOT Grease the Pan: This is very important! The cake needs to cling to the sides of the pan in order to rise, as well as during the cooling process. This ensures that the angel food cake will be high and retain its volume. If your tube pan does not have a removable bottom, then line the bottom only with parchment paper for an easier release.
  • Cooling: If the pan has little feet on the bottom, you can simply set it upside down to cool on a wire rack. However, if it does not have feet, then you will want to invert the pan onto the neck of a glass bottle for the cooling process.
  • Stand Mixer Alternatives: While the mixing is easiest with a stand mixer using a whisk attachment or a hand mixer, you can whisk the egg whites by hand using a balloon whisk and elbow grease!
  • Number of Eggs: How many eggs you use will vary based on the size of the egg and the size of the yolk in each individual egg. I typically only need 10 eggs to get 1½ cups of egg whites, but most recipes say 11 or 12 is the average.
  • Separating Eggs: Eggs separate easier when they are cold, and if there is any yolk in with the egg whites, it will prevent them from whipping up into stiff peaks, so I recommend separating and measuring the eggs while cold, then allow them to come to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.
  • Different Flavors: You can substitute almond extract, orange extract, lemon extract, or use them in combination with the vanilla to adjust the flavoring. Be sure to check the label on them, however; if there is any oil (which is sometimes included in flavored extracts) it can prevent the eggs from forming stiff peaks.
  • Slicing the Cake: It’s super important that when cutting angel food cake, you use a sharp, serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion (I use my favorite bread knife). Using a straight-edge knife and/or cutting straight down will smush the cake.
  • Serving Suggestions: Fresh berries, whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, and /or chocolate ganache are all wonderful accompaniments!
  • Make-Ahead: Angel food cake can be prepared one day in advance; once cooled completely and removed from the tube pan, cover with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature.
  • Freezing Instructions: Angel food cake can be frozen by wrapping it (either the whole cake or individual slices) tightly in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil. Place in a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to 4 months. Thaw at room temperature.

Nutrition:

Calories: 152kcal
Fat: 1g
Saturated fat: 1g
Sodium: 100mg
Potassium: 123mg
Carbohydrates: 33g
Fiber: 1g
Sugar: 25g
Protein: 5g
Vitamin A: 1%
Calcium: 4%
Iron: 1%

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

Photography by Ari Laing.