Those of us who raise chickens know what a treat it is to have fresh eggs every day. Spring is the ideal season to use those extra eggs for lighter egg white desserts like homemade meringues and easy angel food cake recipes served with a dollop of lemon curd made from the extra yolks. In my house, nothing goes to waste, so leftover cake, meringues, and lemon curd morph into a layered trifle, augmented with freshly whipped cream. Easy pie recipes and easy carrot cake recipes are perfect in spring.
Angel food cake, with its simple elegance and ethereal, tender sweetness, is a much-loved dessert at our house. My easy angel food cake recipe gets its lift from egg whites and is leagues above any boxed mix. The softness of the interior plays off the golden crispiness of the crust. But beware. This cake is addictive. Make it once and I guarantee you’ll make it again!
Classic Angel Food Cake
My friend, a talented Hungarian baker, gave this treasured easy angel food cake recipe to me years ago. No yolks or butter makes for a fat-free cake. Without the fat, this easy angel food cake recipe is lower in calories than other cakes. Baking in a tube pan helps the fragile batter rise up the sides and center.
- 1 cup sifted cake flour (whisk before measuring)
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 12 large egg whites (1-3/4 cups)
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Have ready a large tube pan, preferably with a removable bottom. If the pan bottom is not removable, line it with parchment paper. Do not grease the pan.
- Whisk flour with 3/4 cup sugar. Set aside remaining 3/4 cup sugar.
- Beat egg whites at low speed with whisk attachment until just broken up and beginning to look frothy.
- Add cream of tartar and salt and beat at medium speed until whites form soft, billowy mounds. Don’t over beat as this will result in a flatter cake.
- With the mixer still on medium speed, beat in 3/4 cup sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until all sugar is added and whites are shiny and form soft peaks. (I simply pour the sugar in approximate tablespoon amounts from my spouted measuring cup). Add vanilla extract and lemon juice and mix until blended.
- Whisk flour sugar mixture. Fold it into whites about three tablespoons at a time. You can do this by hand or with the mixer on very low speed.
- Gently scrape batter into the pan, smooth the top, and give the pan a couple of raps on the counter to release any large air bubbles.
- Bake until the cake is golden brown and the top springs back when pressed firmly, 50 to 60 minutes.
- If cake pan has prongs around the rim for elevating the cake, invert pan onto them. If not, invert pan over the neck of a bottle so that air can circulate all around it. This is important so that the cake doesn’t collapse once cooled. Let the cake cool completely, two to three hours.
- To unmold, run a knife around edges, being careful not to separate the golden crust from the cake. Slide cake out of the pan and cut the same way around the removable bottom to release, or peel off the parchment paper, if used.
- Place the cake, bottom-side up, on a platter. Cut slices by sawing gently with a serrated knife. Cake keeps up to a week, covered, at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
- Substitute 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract.
- Substitute two teaspoons lemon and two teaspoons lime juice.
- Make a glaze with one cup confectioners’ sugar and one tablespoon or more of milk, juice or water.
Why Use Cream of Tartar?
It acts as a stabilizer when beaten with egg whites, making for a higher, lighter cake. The acidity in the cream of tartar helps make cakes snowy white.
Beat Egg Whites Correctly
The Right Cake Pan
The traditional pan is a tube pan with a central column and sometimes removable bottom.
The central column exposes more batter to the oven’s heat and helps the center of the cake to rise. This column also creates the beautiful caramelized color of the crust.
Removable bottoms allow you to slide a knife between the bottom of the cake and the pan. If your pan does not have a removable bottom, line the bottom with parchment.
If the pan has feet, invert pan onto them to cool. If not, invert pan over neck of a bottle to allow air to circulate around it.
Never grease the pan for an angel food cake. The batter needs to climb up the sides. Make sure your mixing bowl is grease free too. If in doubt, rinse the bowl with a little clear vinegar, swishing it around the inside. Vinegar will remove any trace of grease. Rinse with water, dry and you’re ready to make your cake.
Freeze Extra Eggs
Here are tips from the American Egg Board on freezing whole eggs, yolks and freezing egg whites. All work well in most recipes. And the shells? They get ground up to add to our chickens’ daily diet. Lots of natural calcium and my girls love the shells.
Whole Eggs: Beat just until blended, pour into freezer containers, label with the number of eggs and date, and freeze. Substitute three tablespoons thawed whole egg for one large fresh egg.
Whites: Pour into freezer containers, label with the number of egg whites and date, and freeze. For faster thawing and easier measuring, freeze each white first in a standard ice cube tray. Then transfer to a freezer container. Substitute two tablespoons thawed whites for one large fresh white.
Yolks: If you freeze them as they are, egg yolks will eventually become so gelatinous that they will be almost impossible to use in a recipe. To help retard this gelation, beat in either 1/8 teaspoon salt or 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar or corn syrup per 1/4 cup of egg yolks (about four yolks). Substitute one tablespoon thawed egg yolk for one large fresh yolk.