Don’t fear angel food cake

By Jim Bailey

Angel food cake is so despised by home cooks and for reasons I don’t fully understand.

They are super simple to make and succeed at. By following the directions and making sure the egg whites are at room temperature and they are beaten until true stiff peaks form, you have nothing to worry about. Well, I should add that you should never open and close the door to the oven until the cake has browned. So take another stab it with this almond take on the classic!

See NOTE below for more info on the perfect angel food cake.

1 cup sifted cake flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
10 large egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons almond extract

Preheat oven to 325-degrees F.

Sift together flour and powdered sugar in a bowl; set aside.

Beat egg whites in a large bowl at high speed until just getting foamy. Add the cream of tartar all at once and continue beating until soft peaks form*.

Add granulated sugar evenly over the top and continue beating until firm, or stiff, peaks form.

Evenly sprinkle half the flour mixture on top and fold it in thoroughly with a rubber spatula. Repeat with remaining flour, adding the almond extract as well.

Spoon the batter into a non-greased tube pan and spread it evenly throughout the pan, making sure you level the top all around the tube.

Bake 1 hour, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched in the center and it has browned on top.

Remove from oven and immediately, but carefully, invert cake onto a large platter, pan and all. Do not attempt to loosen the cake or remove pan from cake.

Let is rest and cool for 1 hour, then flip it back up, loosen the edges well with a butter knife or spatula and invert it once again onto a platter, removing pan this time.

* Soft peaks simply means that when you dip a spoon into the meringue and lift it up, the whites will curl over like soft serve ice cream. Stiff peaks are when you do the same test, but the meringue stays erect and stiff, and only the top millimeter may curl over, but most likely will not.

NOTE: Never EVER grease a pan for this cake. The reason an angel food cake rises and does not collapse when done baking and cooling is because of having an ungreased pan, the cake clings onto the side of the cake pan as it rises. As it clings, it bakes onto the pan itself, thereby giving it a structure in which to “hold onto” as it continues to bake and rise. Once baked and cooled, it firms up even more on the pan and will not fall.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeThe Yankee Chef

About the Author: Jim Bailey is a third generation Yankee Chef, New England food historian and newspaper columnist. His first cookbook, simply titled The Yankee Chef, has been published. He welcomes all feedback, questions or comments at

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