One of the most delicate of all cakes is Angel Food. Said to be “food of the angels” this recipe dates back almost two centuries. This simple white sponge cake is made from a base of whipped egg whites that creates a texture almost lighter than air. With an aroma and essence of pure vanilla extract and notes of almond – it’s one spectacular dessert!
Mom made this cake frequently serving it with freshly whipped cream and fresh berries. The first time I ever made this for the Engineer he swore he didn’t like angel food cake – then he had one piece, then another, and another…. He finally confessed the only angel food cake he had ever eaten came from the grocery store. Not a great point of reference. Now he was hooked!
Most pantries have everything needed to make this delectable cake except maybe the cake flour – which is a must. Cake flour is finely milled and has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour.
Make sure your egg whites are free of any egg yolk and let them come to room temperature before you start. This helps the egg whites reach peak volume when they’re whipped. The addition of cream of tarter acts as a stabilizer for the eggs whites. You also want to sift the flour before you measure the amount needed -then sift the flour with the sugar five times as noted. This helps to develop that light, fluffy texture you’re after.
One bite and you’ll agree – it’s food of the angels and maybe a little heaven on earth!
Angel Food Cake
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour
1-¾ cup sugar, divided
1-1/2 cups egg whites, about 11 extra-large eggs at room temperature
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tarter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Sift the flour together with ¾ cup of the cake flour five (5) times.
Combine the egg whites with the kosher salt in a large mixing bowl. Beat using the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until the egg whites are foamy.
Add the cream of tarter and continue beating until soft peaks form – about 2 to 3 minutes. Do not beat until the egg whites are dry or they will “break”. Slowly pour in the remaining 1 cup of sugar and beat into the egg whites on low speed. Scrape down with a spatula to make sure all the sugar and egg whites are well blended.
Mix the vanilla and the almond extracts into the egg whites.
Gently sprinkle the flour mixture over the top of the egg whites and mix in using low speed just until the flour is blended into the batter – about 1 minute.
Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make certain the batter is well mixed.
Pour the batter into an ungreased tube pan (one with a removable bottom). Use a spatula or knife and run it through the batter 2 to 3 times to break up any air bubbles.
Bake the cake in a 375-degree oven, placed on the rack just slightly below the middle. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the “cracks” appear dry. Do not open the door until the cake is done. Remove and immediately invert the cake. If your pan doesn’t have supports a wine bottle works well for this.
Allow the cake to cool completely. To remove the cake from the pan – take a thin knife and gently run it around the edges to loosen it slightly. Flip the cake over onto a cake plate and gently run the knife between the bottom of the pan and the cake to release it.
Serve plain or with your favorite dessert topping!