February 17, 2011

Angel Food Cake

What to do with all the egg whites I was left with after making a few batches of meyer lemon bars?   Normally I'd make macarons, but lately I've been feeling "been there, done that" about them.   

My friend Debbie at work mentioned that one of her favorite cakes was angel food.  Now there's a recipe that would require a lot of egg whites.  Perfect!

I started with Cook's Illustrated's cake recipe and tweaked it a bit by substituting lemon extract for the vanilla and almond extract.   Often times you'll find angel food is coyingly sweet  - the citrus would cut in to that a bit.  

The key to achieving a really tall cake is to sift the flour and sugar multiple times and to fold the batter gently.  It's time consuming but you'll see the pay off in the finished cake.

To serve, I keep it really simple - some fresh berries and you're good to go.

Angel Food Cake (adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

1 cup (3 oz) sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups + 2 Tbls egg whites
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon extract
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice (I used meyer lemons)

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.

Have ready an ungreased large tube pan (9-inch diameter 16-cup capacity), preferably with removable bottom.  If the pan bottom is not removable, line it with parchment or wax paper.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour with 3/4 cup sugar.  Place remaining 3/4 cup sugar in another small bowl next to the mixer.

In the bowl of a standing mixer beat egg whites at low speed until just broken up and beginning to froth.  Add cream of tartar and salt and beat at medium speed until whites form very soft, billowy mounds.  With the mixer still at medium speed, beat in 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar is added and whites are shiny and form soft peaks.  Add lemon extract and lemon juice and beat until just blended.

Place flour-sugar mixture in a sifter set over waxed paper.  Sift flour-sugar mixture over egg whites about 3 tablespoons at a time, and gently fold it in, using a large rubber spatula.  Sift any flour-sugar mixture that falls onto the paper back into the bowl with the whites.

Gently scrape batter into pan, smooth the top, and give pan a couple of raps on the counter to release any large air bubbles.

Bake until the cake is golden brown and the top springs back with pressed firmly, about 1 hour.

If cake pan has prongs around the rim for elevating the cake, invert pan onto them.  If not, invert pan over the neck of a bottle or funnel so that air can circulate all around it.  Let the cake cool completely.

To unmold, run a knife around edges, being careful not to separate the golden crust from the cake.  Slide cake out of pan and cut the same way around removable bottom to release, or peel off parchment or wax paper, if used.

Place the cake, bottom-side up, on a platter.  Cut slices by sawing gently with a serrated knife. 


  1. I have never made an angel food cake from scratch, but have been wanting to. Your recipe makes it sounds very doable. I love that you add lemon juice and extract. That sets this recipe apart. Thanks!

  2. I'm glad I came across this on FoodGawker. Normally I think of angel food cake as a summer food only because it's paired with fruit, but it truly is good anytime of the year. Can't wait to try!

  3. Beautiful photos. I have never dared attempt an angel food cake. It scares me! Yours looks perfect.


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