Growing up one of the staple desserts my mom would make is an Angel Food Cake with chocolate frosting. In the summer she would skip the frosting and opt for macerated strawberries with whipped cream. Now, no complaints here, but her method involved a pack of mix and some water. The cake always turned out great – a family favorite – but I always wondered how the scratch version would compare.
In researching angel food cake recipes, I learned why mom opted for the bag mix on this one. It is not a particularly difficult cake to make but there is a lot of finesse involved and there a few pitfalls.
Here are my tips for success:
- Use room temperature eggs: Cold eggs will not aerate as easily as room temp ones do.
- Incorporate the sugar slowly: Adding the sugar all at once will deflate any aeration you have achieved and you will be unlikely to get it back.
- Incorporate dry ingredients slowly: I am not a big sifter but in this case it is important to make sure there are no lumps in your dry mix. Sifting in small batches will make sure you don’t end up with a lump of flour in your batter or finished cake.
- Fold in dry ingredients by hand: You may be tempted to use your mixer but in order to keep the batter light and full of air folding is the way to go.
As for the difference between the bag mix and the one from scratch? I love both of them. The homemade version I find to be a bit sturdier and easier to slice but the flavors are pretty comparable. I will usually opt for the homemade version over the mix but if I don’t have a dozen eggs on hand I might reach for a mix in a pinch.
Angel Food Cake
- 1 3/4 c granulated or superfine sugar
- 1 c all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 12 large egg whites at room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Adjust your oven racks so that the your tube pan will sit in the center of the oven. Preheat to 325F.
Add the sugar to the bowl of your food processor and pulse a few times to ensure there are no lumps and the grains of sugar are noticeably finer. Remove about a cup of the sugar from the food processor leaving the remaining sugar behind.
Add the flour, cornstarch, and salt to the sugar in the food processor and pulse until well combined.
In your stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and an impeccably clean bowl begin to whip the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to whip on medium speed.
Slowly begin to add the sugar to the egg whites a tablespoons at a time. Once all the sugar has been added, increase the speed to medium high.
Beat until soft peaks form, about 3-4 minutes. Add in vanilla and beat until just combined.
Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and using a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients in 4 parts, sifting the flour mixture directly into the bowl. Be careful not to overmix.
Carefully spoon the batter into an ungreased 9 inch angel food cake pan, Use and offest spatula to remove any air pockets and to even out the top of the cake.
Bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven and invert the cake on to its little feet. Note: if your cake pan doesn't have the little feet, invert onto a wire rack.
Let the cake cool completely upside down in the pan. Before removing run a thin sharp knife around the sides of the pan to free the cake from the pan.
You can use the carton egg whites in place of the fresh but you might not get as great of a result as if you were to use fresh.