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Angel Food Cake
by Renee Shelton
May 17, 2011

There are many different theories of where angel food cake originated from, or why it was named wh at it was. Recently, I wrote about the 'real' history of angel food cake on the Old School Pastry blog, or the history according to Jessup Whitehead in this 1894 book The American Pastry Cook (see image on the right).

No matter where it comes from, angel food cake is a favorite for many: it is fat-free, has a light and spongy texture, and is easily transformed into a gluten-free cake. Oh, and it is very delicious.

Here are two recipes to try. If you are wanting to create a gluten-free angel food cake, substitute your favorite gluten-free flour blend for the all-purpose flour, and add a teaspoon of xanthan gum to the flour. For testing purposes, I've used Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour with good results.

Image above: The real history of Angel Food Cake, according to The American Pastry Cook.

Angel food cake
Angel food cake with sautéed berries: Photo by Renee Shelton.

Angel Food Cake
This classic recipe requires inverting in the pan to cool. If the cake pan has no supports around edges, invert over a bottle to cool. If you have an angel food cake pan with a removable bottom, this is the easiest to remove when the cake is cooled.

1 c cake flour 2 t vanilla
1 1/2 c sugar, divided 1 1/2 t cream of tartar
12 large egg white, room temperature 1/4 t salt

Preheat oven to 375°F. 10 inch angel food cake pan ungreased and perfectly cleaned.

Sift cake flour with 3/4 cup of the sugar three times. In large bowl, beat whites until foamy, about 3 minutes on medium-low speed. Add the cream of tartar and salt and increase speed to medium. When firm peaks form, gradually add in the rest of the sugar about a tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar is incorporated. Continue beating for another 3 to 5 minutes until the whites hold stiff peaks. The whites should be firm, but do not overbeat. Stir in the vanilla. Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture over the whites and carefully fold in. Repeat 2 more times with remaining flour, until just blended. Make sure the flour is incorporated, but do not over mix. Gently turn batter into prepared pan and gently run a knife through batter to remove any large air pockets that may have been caught in the center. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cake springs back when pressed, and is golden brown in color. Remove from oven, and invert immediately to cool. Cool completely before loosening sides and bottom of cake pan.

Butterscotch Angel Food Cake
This cake is made with a cooked butterscotch syrup that is poured over the whites to make a meringue.

1 1/2 c brown sugar, packed 1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 c water 1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 c egg whites, room temperature 1 c sifted cake flour
1/4 tsp salt  

Preheat oven to 325°F. 10 inch angel food cake pan ungreased and perfectly cleaned.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir brown sugar and water until sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring and cook until temperature reaches 242 degrees, a firm ball when tested. While syrup is cooking, beat whites and salt until frothy. Sprinkle in cream of tartar and beat until the whites are stiff, but still look moist. Pour cooked syrup slowly over egg whites in a thin, steady stream, beating constantly. Use a medium or medium-low speed depending on your mixer to prevent spattering of syrup. Keep beating until cool. When cool, add vanilla and sift flour on top gradually, cutting and folding in gently and carefully. Pour into prepared pan, cutting through with a knife to remove any large air pockets that may have formed. Bake for about an hour, or until cake springs when touched. Invert immediately to cool. When cool, loosen sides and bottom of cake pan to remove.




All pictures copyright by respective owners. If no source is listed under the photos, they are in the public domain.

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