This post is sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill.
This week in Massachusetts we saw two glorious, sun-filled days with temperatures in the high 80s, which gave me the green light to whip out my summer food staples. First up: homemade strawberry shortcakes—layered with fluffy vanilla cake, fresh strawberries, and sweetened whipped cream. My mom has made these on summer nights for as long as I can remember—with sponge cake as the base—for as long as I can remember, but this year I decided to try something new: homemade angel food cake.
It seemed to be the perfect swap for sponge cake. It’s light, unbelievably tender, and has the most delicate crumb. And with only a touch of sweetness, it lets the fresh strawberries and cream shine.
Angel food cake is made with no fat and no leaveners. Egg whites, whipped to soft glossy peaks, do all the work of creating its height and billowy structure. To create that ultra-fine, perfectly delicate crumb, you need cake flour, which has a lower protein content than traditional all-purpose flour—making it ideal for baked goods with light, tender texture (e.g. chiffon cake, pound cake). For my angel food cake, I used Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Cake Flour. It’s unbleached, unbromated, carefully milled and sifted to a very fine texture—perfect for cakes with a truly tender crumb. And while some other brands might add cornstarch to their cake flour to (unnaturally) manufacture a lower protein content in their flour, Bob’s doesn’t cut corners. All of their flours are top notch when it comes to quality.
Here are my best tips for making perfect angel food cake every time:
Use the right pan
Avoid nonstick pans and instead choose an aluminum one—the aluminum surface allows the batter to cling to the sides of the pan as it rises. Secondly, make sure that the center tube of your pan is taller than the sides of the rest of the pan (this will be helpful when it comes to cooling your baked cake).
Bring your eggs to room temperature
Bring the egg whites to room temperature before whipping and be careful not to allow any yolk to sneak in the mix (any fat in the mix can hinder how well your egg whites whip!).
Sift the flour
I’ll be the first to admit that sifting flour seems like an overly fussy step (and one I don’t often take), but in this fluffy cake, sifting helps remove any clumps that might stand in the way of perfect fluffiness.
Cool the cake upside down
Once you remove your baked cake from the oven, carefully flip the tube pan upside down on top of a wire cooling rack and let it cool that way for at least an hour. This will help prevent the cake from deflating as it cools. (Many tube pans have “feet” to help hold the pan steady when turned over.)
Light and Fluffy Angel Food Cake
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 12 large egg whites at room temperature
- 1 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 16-cup tube pan with parchment paper (do not grease).
- In a medium bowl, sift the flour and ¾ cup of the sugar (place the remaining ¾ cup of sugar in a separate small bowl).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or an electric hand beater), begin whisking the egg whites over medium-low speed. Add the cream of tartar and salt and whisk until the mixture is foamy (this process should take about 1 minute). Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and whip the egg white mixture to a puffy, frothy cloud-like texture (1 minute). Slowly add the ¾ cup of sugar that you had set aside—a heaping tablespoon at a time—until you achieve soft, glossy peaks (about 2 minutes). Add the vanilla and almond extracts and beat until incorporated (20 to 30 seconds).
- Begin adding the sifted flour and sugar mixture to the whipped egg whites—about ¼ cup at a time—and use a rubber spatula to gently fold it into the egg whites. Repeat until all the flour/sugar is incorporated.
- Spoon the batter into your prepared tube pan. Swirl a butter knife through the batter to help pop/release any air bubbles and then smooth the top of the cake with a rubber spatula. Bake until the top is golden brown and the cake springs back when you press a finger into the top, 52 to 55 minutes.
- Invert the tube pan onto your countertop (especially easy to do if the tube pan has prongs or “feet” on the sides) or onto a wire cooling rack and let cool completely upside down (to prevent deflating). Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake and then remove it from the pan, peeling off the bottom layer of parchment paper.
- Serve slices of angel food cake with sweetened whipped cream and chopped strawberries.