This Effortless Angel’s Food Cake is not only super easy to make, it’s also incredibly delicious. Angel’s food cakes are a lighter alternative to regular cake. Made with mostly egg whites, this cake is perfect for summer. Your family and friends will be delighted at its light, moist texture.
I’m struggling to get going this morning. Monday’s are the worst!
Not only are Monday’s bad but this one, in particular, is tough. Hurricane Irma began moving up Florida’s west coast and the destruction has been devastating. I love Florida and was just there two weeks ago for an anniversary getaway.
My heart goes out to everyone dealing with the aftermath of this powerful storm.
This past week I made the most amazing angel’s food cake. It’s so light, fluffy, and the completely effortless. It’s perfect for topping with fresh berries.
Today’s effortless angel’s food cake comes from Stella, one of America’s Best New Pastry Chefs. She released a book called BraveTart which is also the name of her blog. I’m sure you’ve heard of her. Stella is the queen of no-nonsense baking. All of her recipes are approachable and straight to the point.
The book BraveTart is filled with American classic recipes that we all love and each one is made completely from scratch. Not only are her recipes completely genius, she also teaches you tips and food history behind each recipe. It’s a must have!
Stella’s publisher was kind enough to let me share this wonderfully effortless angel’s food cake with you. The moment I saw how simple it was, I just had to make it. Seriously, you start the meringue with cold egg whites. Who even knew that was possible? All my life I’ve been taught to use room temperature whites.
She adds a little lemon juice to stabilize the whites but the flavor completely dissipates during baking, leaving you with subtle hints of vanilla and a light, fully cake.
Stella also uses bleached cake flour and the recipe will not work with anything else, not even homemade cake flour. She explains this in her book and recommends using Swans Down or Softasilk found in the baking aisle.
Her technique also calls for under whipping the egg whites. Don’t whip them to stiff peaks. The meringue should have very soft peaks without any foam. This is what gives the cake its light texture.
Waiting for the cake to cool is the absolute hardest part of the entire process.
Effortless Angel’s Food Cake
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350°F. Have ready an aluminum tube pan with a removable bottom, roughly 10 inches across and 4 inches deep. Nonstick pans will not work. If the pan doesn’t have stilts, set out a bottle with a slender neck that will fit into the mouth of the tube.
- Sift flour (if using a cup measure, spoon into the cup and level with a knife before sifting)
Make the cake
- Combine egg whites, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on low speed to moisten, about 1 minute, then increase to medium-low (4 on a KitchenAid) and whip for 3 minutes; the whites will look very dense, and dark from the vanilla. Add the lemon juice and salt, increase speed to medium (6 on a KitchenAid), and whip for 3 minutes; the meringue will be light but thin, not foamy. Increase to medium-high (8 on a KitchenAid), and continue whipping until the wires leave a distinct vortex pattern in the thick, glossy meringue, another 3 minutes or so, depending on the freshness of the whites. To check the meringue, detach the whisk; when whipped to very soft peaks, the meringue will run off the wires but retain enough body to pile up on itself in a soft mound.
- Sprinkle cake flour over the meringue and stir gently with a flexible spatula to disperse. Switch to a folding motion and work from the bottom up, cutting through the middle, until no pockets of flour remain. Pour the batter into the pan; if you notice a small patch of unmixed flour as you pour, incorporate it into the surrounding batter with a gentle wiggle of your spatula. The pan should be about two-thirds full.
- Bake until the cake has risen well above the rim of the pan, with a firm, golden blonde crust, about 45 minutes (206°F). Immediately invert the pan on its stilts, or over the neck of the bottle, and cool upside down until no trace of warmth remains, at least 2 hours.
- Turn the cooled cake right side up and loosen the outer edges with a metal spatula. Lift the center tube to remove the cake, then loosen it from the bottom too. Invert onto a serving plate; the cake will slide right off the tube. With a chef’s knife or serrated bread knife, cut into 10 or 12 servings with a gentle sawing motion, applying very little downward pressure. Angel’s food is mostly air, so the big slices will be less filling than they look.
- Wrapped tightly in plastic, leftovers will keep for up to a week at room temperature. You can also drop thin slices of angel’s food into a toaster to crisp like a campfire marshmallow.
- If a speck of yolk slips into the whites, fish it out with an eggshell. If the yolk can’t be removed, save those whites for Tahitian Vanilla Pudding (page 225) or White Mountain Layer Cake (page 110) and start fresh.
- Extracts like peppermint and orange, made from essential oils, may cause the meringue to collapse; take care when experimenting with flavorings.
- In a kitchen below 68°F, cold air may cause the cake to contract and fall from the pan before its crumb has set. As a workaround, open the oven door and place the inverted cake on the stovetop, where drafts of warm air will stabilize its temperature.
- Through trial and error, I’ve discovered that the highly polished sides of stainless steel angel’s food cake pans may cause the cake to fall from the pan as it cools. For best results, use an untreated aluminum tube pan.
Recipe and photograph from BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Parks. Copyright © 2017 by Stella Parks. Reprinted with permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.