Angel food cake is a healthy birthday dessert that’s easy to make completely from scratch.  Decorate your fluffy, moist angel food cake with whipped cream and lemon curd for an impressive presentation.  Everyone will be amazed with the flavor and texture of this classic cake!

Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
slice of angel food cake with a jar of lemon curd
Cakes, Dessert

Homemade Angel Food Cake Recipe

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Have you been craving a fluffy slice of cloud–aka angel food cake?  You’re in for a treat with this recipe!  Just follow all the tips and tricks below, and you’ll be making perfect angel food cake in no time.

holding a forkful of angel food cake with lemon curd

What is angel food cake?

Angel food cake is a unique type of cake made from beaten egg whites, sugar, flour, cream of tartar, salt, and flavorings.  It’s known for its white interior, low fat content, and divinely light and fluffy texture.

Where is angel food cake from?

Angel food cake originated in the United States in the nineteenth century.  It’s been a popular dessert ever since!

What makes angel food cake so light and airy?

The beautiful texture of angel food cake comes from the whipped egg whites in the batter.  Unlike many traditional cakes, angel food cake doesn’t contain baking powder to help it rise; all the rising power comes from the egg whites.

drizzling lemon curd on top of angel food cake

What is the flavor of angel food cake?

Angel food cake has a very mild flavor, although its exact taste will depend on what flavorings you add to the batter.  Vanilla extract, almond extract, and lemon zest are popular additions.  Experiment to see what you like best.

Is it healthy to eat angel food cake?

Fortunately, angel food cake is lower in calories than many other cakes and contains no fat.  Everyone can enjoy a slice of angel food cake and not feel guilty afterwards!  (Check out the nutrition facts at the end of this post for more information.  Just remember that those nutrition facts include whipped cream and lemon curd.)

Does angel food cake contain gluten?

Yes, it does, because it’s made with wheat flour.  If you want to make a gluten free angel food cake, substitute the cake flour in the recipe with gluten free all-purpose flour.

slice of angel food cake

What is the difference between a sponge cake and an angel food cake?

Angel food cake uses only the egg whites in the batter, while sponge cake uses both the yolks and whites.  If you want to read more about the similarities and differences of angel food cake and sponge cake, check out this article.

Are angel food cake and pound cake the same?

No, they are not the same.  Pound cake is a much denser cake that’s made with butter, while angel food cake is light and airy and doesn’t contain butter.  Both types of cake are used in trifles, however.

What pan do you use for angel food cake?

  • It’s best to use an angel food cake pan that has straight sides and a tube in the center.
  • Don’t use a bundt pan; the patterned sides will make it very difficult to remove the cake.
  • Don’t have an angel food cake pan?  Make a substitute with a loose-bottomed cake pan and a pop can.
  • Whatever pan you use, make sure it’s not non-stick.  The non-stick coating will make the cake slide down the sides of the pan as it bakes.

slice of angel food cake

When is angel food cake done?

Angel food cake is done baking when a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Be careful not to underbake or overbake.

How can I use the leftover egg yolks?

Here’s the tastiest answer: make a big batch of lemon curd.  Fortunately, it’s a simple process you can do while the angel food cake is cooling.  The lemon flavor perfectly complements the tender cake!

Gather the ingredients: lemon juice, lemon zest, caster sugar, unsalted butter, and the egg yolks.

lemon curd ingredients

Dump the butter and sugar into a medium saucepan set over medium heat.  Stir occasionally until the butter has melted, then add the lemon juice and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  (I used a double boiler in the photo, but I would recommend making the curd in a saucepan.)

whisking butter and sugar mixture for lemon curd

Slowly pour the hot lemon mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly.  This is called tempering.

lemon curd in a glass measuring cup

Pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and set over low heat.  Whisk constantly until the curd has thickened considerably, then pour it through a sieve to remove lumps and stir in the lemon zest.  Pour the curd into a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap onto its surface to prevent a skin from forming, then refrigerate until needed.

lemon curd in a saucepan with a whisk

How do you store angel food cake?

  • Tightly cover the cooled cake with plastic wrap.
  • Store at room temperature for 1-2 days or refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Can angel food cake be frozen?

Yes, you can freeze angel food cake.  Wrap the cooled cake tightly in aluminum foil, then seal inside of a freezer bag.  Freeze for up to 3 months, then defrost and decorate as desired.

How to Make Angel Food Cake

Gather the ingredients: room temperature egg whites, cake flour, caster sugar, salt, vanilla extract, cream of tartar, and lemon zest.

ingredients for angel food cake

Sift the flour and 3/4 cup (150g) of the caster sugar 3 times.  This aerates the dry ingredients, mixes them together, and removes lumps.

sifting flour and sugar into a mixing bowl

Pour the egg whites and salt into a large, grease-free mixing bowl and beat with a hand-held electric mixer on low speed until foamy.

foamy egg whites in a mixing bowl

Add the cream of tartar, vanilla extract, and lemon zest and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form.

soft peaks on meringue

Add the remaining 1 cup (200g) of caster sugar one tablespoon at a time.  Keep mixing until stiff peaks have formed.  The tip of the peak should stand tall without curling.

stiff peaks on meringue

Sift 1/3 of the dry ingredients on top of the egg whites and gently fold them in by running the spatula round the rim of the bowl, then cutting through the center.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients in 2 more additions.  Keep gently folding until no pockets of dry ingredients remain.

folding the dry ingredients into the angel food cake batter

Gently spread the batter in an ungreased angel food cake pan.  Run a knife through the batter in a spiral shape, starting from the tube in the center and going out.

angel food cake batter in the pan

Bake the cake at 350 F for 45-50 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the thickest part of the cake comes out clean.  Immediately turn the cake upside down and set it on a wire rack to let it cool completely, about 3 hours.  Then, run a knife around the edge of the pan, flip the cake onto a plate, and loosen the base of the pan with the knife.

baked angel food cake on a plate

To decorate the cake, whip some heavy whipping cream with vanilla extract until the mixture is stiff.

whipped cream in a bowl

Spread the whipped cream on the cake, swirling it decoratively on top.  Serve with homemade lemon curd.

angel food cake decorated with whipped cream

Pro Tips for Making Angel Food Cake

  • Make sure to use fresh, globby, room temperature egg whites.  Old, cold, or runny whites won’t whip to their maximum volume.
  • Sift the flour and sugar three times.  This removes any lumps and aerates the dry ingredients.
  • Don’t skip the cream of tartar.  It helps stabilize the beaten egg whites.
  • Use the leftover egg yolks to make lemon curd.  It tastes fabulous with the angel food cake!
  • Let the cake cool completely upside down.  Otherwise, the cake will collapse on itself as it cools.

Looking for more birthday cake ideas?  You’ll want to try these ones.

slice of red velvet cake with a fork forkful of carrot cake with a slice of cake slice of sour cream chocolate cake on a plate

The pleasure of a 5-star review for this angel food cake would be greatly appreciated.

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slice of angel food cake with a jar of lemon curd

Homemade Angel Food Cake Recipe


  • Author: Emma
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 10 servings 1x

Description

Angel food cake is a healthy birthday dessert that’s easy to make completely from scratch.  Decorate your fluffy, moist angel food cake with whipped cream and lemon curd for an impressive presentation.  Everyone will be amazed with the flavor and texture of this classic cake!


Scale

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 12 fresh egg whites, at room temperature (1 2/3 cup or 400g)
  • 1 1/8 cup cake flour (130g)
  • 1 3/4 cup caster sugar (350g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest, from 1 lemon

For the Lemon Curd

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed (86g)
  • 1 1/2 cups caster sugar (300g)
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons lemon juice (200 ml)
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 3 teaspoons lemon zest

For the Decoration

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream (450 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Making the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Sift together the cake flour and 3/4 cup (150g) of caster sugar three times.
  3. Pour the room temperature egg whites and salt into a large mixing bowl.  Mix on low speed with a hand-held electric mixer until foamy, about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the vanilla extract, lemon zest, and cream of tartar.  Turn up the mixer speed to medium and beat until soft peaks form.  (When you lift the beaters from the mix, the tip of the peak should curl over quite a bit.  See photo in post for more clarification.)
  5. Add 1 cup of caster sugar (200g) in the center of the bowl one tablespoon at a time, mixing it in between each addition.  Once all the sugar is added, keep mixing until stiff peaks form.  (The tip of the peak should stand up straight without curling.  The mixture shouldn’t fall out of the bowl if it’s turned upside down.)
  6. Sift 1/3 of the flour and sugar mixture on top of the beaten egg whites, then gently fold it in with a flexible spatula.  (Fold by running the spatula around the rim of the bowl, then gently cutting through the center.  Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl occasionally.)  Add the remaining flour and sugar mixture in two more additions, folding until no lumps of dry ingredients remain.
  7. Gently spread the mixture in an ungreased, 10-inch angel food cake pan.  Carefully even the surface of the batter, then run a knife through the batter in a spiral shape.  Start from the tube in the middle and work your way out to the edge.  This step helps remove any large air pockets in the batter.
  8. Bake the cake at 350 F for 45-50 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Immediately invert the cake on a wire rack and let it cool completely, about 3 hours.  Don’t flip the cake over until it’s completely cool.
  9. Once the cake is completely cool, run an angled spatula around the edge and middle of the cake to loosen it, then carefully turn the cake onto the serving plate.  Run the knife under the pan’s loose base, then lift it off.  Serve as is, or decorate with whipped cream and lemon curd.

Making the Lemon Curd (Optional)

  1. Place the caster sugar and butter in a heavy bottomed, 2-quart saucepan.  Set over medium heat and stir occasionally until the butter is melted.  Add the lemon juice and whisk until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Break up the egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl.  Slowly trickle the warm lemon mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly.  This is called tempering the egg yolks.
  3. Pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and whisk constantly over medium heat until the curd is bubbling and has thickened considerably.  Be patient; this takes a few minutes.
  4. Pour the curd through a sieve to remove any lumps, then stir in the lemon zest.
  5. Pour the curd into a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming.  You should have about 3 cups of curd.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Decorating the Angel Food Cake (Optional)

  1. Pour the heavy whipping cream and vanilla extract into a mixing bowl.  Beat on medium-high speed for a few minutes until the cream is stiff, but not dry.
  2. Use an angled spatula to spread the whipped cream on the cake.  Drizzle the top with the lemon curd, then serve.

  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: recipe, topping, how to make

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2 thoughts on “Homemade Angel Food Cake Recipe

  1. This cake is so good that I could eat it any day! The lemon curd is a must, so do not omit it. Whipping cream on angel food cake is just divine.😇😍🎂

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