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Angel food cake anyone can make

You begin by sifting the dry ingredients four times.
You begin by sifting the dry ingredients four times.
photos: Daniel Dedmon

Angel Food cake is one of those desserts that, for a long time, was overlooked. It was very popular in the 1930's and remained that way throughout the 1950's. Its light and tender crumb was indeed, as the name indicates, "heavenly". Yet, making these cakes from scratch was not exactly a fast and easy procedure. For one, all the equipment used in making the cake had to be perfectly clean and free of any traces of fat. Fat would prevent the egg whites from whipping correctly. Then, there was the step of folding in the flour and being very careful to not overmix, which would cause the cake to collapse upon baking. Finally, you had to figure out what to do with all the egg yolks left from the eggs you separated. More often than not, these cakes deemed to be too much work and over time, making one of these cakes from scratch fell out of favor.

"Three-Egg Angel Food Cake" is really easy to make!
photos: Daniel Dedmon

In the 1960's, cake mix companies developed Angel Food cake mixes to make it much easier to have this light dessert. At that time, you had two envelopes of ingredients packed in the box. One was an egg white powder to which you added water and beat to make the egg white base. The second envelope was the dry ingredients, mostly flour. This was beaten into the egg white base. The batter went into the pan and baked. Whether you made one of these cakes from scratch or with a mix, you hung the pan with cake still in it on a bottle or funnel until it completely cooled. Then, the cake was loosened with a knife and turned out onto a cake plate. Mixes made it much easier, though you still had to follow some ground rules to ensure a successful cake, such as being aware of fat on the utensils and baking the cake on the oven's lower level.

I've come across a recipe for a "Three Egg Angel Food Cake" that is easy and is failure-proof, believe it or not! Anyone can make this cake, it's that easy. It's also economical, because it only uses three egg whites. This recipe also deviates from some traditional rules about making this cake. First, it calls for milk and baking powder, which you normally never use in a standard Angel Food cake recipe. You sift the dry ingredients a total of four times. Then, you beat in the milk, which has been heated. The egg whites are beaten stiff and folded into the batter. This now goes into the pan and baked. In about 45 minutes, the cake is ready to come out. The recipe says that after cooling, you can turn it out onto your cake plate. I found I needed to run a knife around the edges of the pan to aid in loosening it. And you now have an Angel Food cake!

Be aware that this cake is heavier and denser than a standard Angel Food cake is, but it's still every bit as light and tender! There's an icing that goes over it, which is optional. This is a simple icing made of confectioner's sugar, butter, hot milk and vanilla extract. This is all combined and goes over the cake. If you wanted to, you could omit the icing and top it with fresh fruit, such as strawberries or peaches. It would make a good and easy dessert and even someone watching their weight could enjoy a piece of this cake, since it's virtually fat-free.

About two years ago, I shared another cake recipe which uses a baked Angel Food cake to create another dessert, called "Amaretto Cake". This is a luscious dessert in which the cake is layered with ice cream and flavored with Amaretto liquor. To get this recipe, follow this link:

If making a homemade Angel Food cake has scared you, try this recipe and see how successful it turns out!


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1-1/3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup scalded milk (may use skim milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla OR almond extract
  • 3 egg whites, at room temperature

Mix and sift the sugar, cake flour, cream of tartar, baking powder and salt four times. Add the hot milk slowly to the flour mixture, beating continuously. Then add flavoring and mix well. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter. Turn into an ungreased Angel Food cake tin. Bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for 45 minutes or until firm to the touch and browned. Turn cake upside down onto a cake plate and let stand until cool. If desired, cake may be iced with the following icing:

  • 1/2 teaspoon butter (this is a correct measurement)
  • 2 tablespoons hot milk
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add the butter to the hot milk and add this to the sugar slowly, mixing until it's spreadable. Add the vanilla and spread on the top and sides of the cake. Yield: 10-12 servings.

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