Joy of Baking: Angel food cake

Every now and then, the seemingly random urge strikes me to make an angel food cake. There’s no obvious trigger for it, and in fact I feel like it’s a little silly to bake something during this season of excess, but I heard the call when some friends were over to plot a menu for New Year’s Eve, and I went with it. Due to a minor emergency, the cake remained uneaten the night it was baked, but it did quite all right the next day with some whipped cream, preserved strawberries, and caramelized peaches alongside. I hear that day-old angel food cake is very good toasted or grilled, but I haven’t had the chance yet to test that for myself.

Most recipes involving making meringues will make a huge fuss about how you can’t have even the slightest speck of yolk in the eggs, or else your meringues won’t develop. This isn’t something you need to worry much about; I usually have a dab or two of broken yolk make its way into the whites by accident when separating, and I have yet to experience problems with meringues. Just make sure that your mixing bowl and whisk are clean, and that you’re working with fresh, cold eggs to create a foam with a consistent, stable texture.

Note: if you’ve never made this before, you will probably not already have the two-piece tube pan that’s needed. Don’t substitute a one-piece bundt pan; this is one of those rare recipes in which you depend on the cake sticking to the pan to bake properly, and a one-piece (or worse, fluted) pan will make it impossible for you to remove the cake in one piece.

Link to original recipe here.

Print Recipe
Joy of Baking: Angel food cake
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Mix flour and one-half of the sugar in a small bowl.
  3. Add egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and mix at high speed until foamy.
  4. Add cream of tartar, salt, and lemon juice (if using), and mix until soft peaks form. Add remaining sugar slowly and gradually, and beat until stiff peaks form. Mix in vanilla and almond extract (if using), then turn off mixer.
  5. Gently fold flour mixture into egg white mixture.
  6. Pour batter into a standard 2-piece tube pan and level it with a spatula, then run a knife through it a few times to break up air pockets.
  7. Bake about 40 to 45 minutes, until a wooden skewer stuck into the middle of the cake comes out clean. The surface will crack; don't worry about it.
  8. Take cake out of oven and immediately invert pan to let cool completely, about 1 hour. Some tube pans have prongs or a longer middle than sides to hold them up and allow air to circulate; if yours does not, set the centre tube on a tall glass or wine bottle to cool.
  9. Separate the cake from the outer edges of the pan by running a knife around the sides of the pan, then remove inner piece of the pan from the outside shell. Separate the cake from the centre core using a similar method, then invert the cake onto a serving plate.
  10. To cut, use a serrated knife and a light sawing motion. Avoid pressing down to keep from squashing the cake.
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