10 Tips for Making a Successful Angel Food Cake and an Angel Food Cake Recipe (gluten free)

Fluffy sweet angel food cake served with rich chocolate whipping cream has been a favorite of my husband’s for a long time. His mother would often make angel food cake for his birthday, a sweet memory for him. My version uses whole cane sugar giving it a deeper flavor. It’s a little bit of earth to hold this fluffy cake down.

I had made several angel food cakes before we were married, but the last one I made flopped so bad and wasted so many eggs I never had the nerve to make it again. That is, until this last Father’s day. My husband is a wonderful father, and I thought it would be nice to serve him his favorite desert. With a better understanding now of what it takes to make a good homemade angel food cake, I was able to confidently make one for him. And because my daughter and I are eating a gluten free diet right now, we made it gluten free so that all of us could enjoy it. If you don’t need to make it gluten free replace the brown rice flour and the arrowroot flour with sprouted wheat flour, or unbleached white flour.

While it does take a lot of eggs to make angel food cake, keep in mind that even a dozen good quality eggs is generally only a couple of dollars. And since this cake doesn’t use expensive ingredients, like butter, it’s really not that bad on the pocketbook. Use the egg yolks to make custard, ice cream, or put in smoothies for extra nutrition!

Tips for Making a Successful Angel Food Cake

1) Separate the eggs when cold, otherwise the yolk breaks easily.
2) Let the egg whites get to room temperature before beating. They will be more relaxed and fluff up easily. (about 30 minutes out of the fridge)
3) Carefully keep all egg yolks out of the white. To safeguard yourself, separate the egg yolk over a small bowl. If the egg white is “clean” from egg yolk, then you can add it to your measuring cup.
4) Beat in a very clean bowl without a touch of grease or oil. Fat keeps the whites from getting as fluffy. Don’t use a plastic bowl as it will retain a bit of oil or fat from previous dishes no matter how well you have washed it.
5) Angel food cake batter will not look as stiff as merigange batter. It’s okay for it to look looser. In fact, it should.
6) You can over beat an angel food cake batter, which will cause the egg whites to deflate. Beat just until they form soft peaks.
7) Do not grease the angel food cake pan. The batter “clings” to the side of the pan as it rises. You will not get as much rise if it is greased. However, that it why you will need a angel food cake “tube” pan with a removable bottom.
8) Cook until the miniumum time listed below before checking on the cake. An underdone cake, or one with many changes in temperature (from the door opening), is at risk of falling.
9) I generally cut down the sugar content of my desserts drastically. However, in the case of an angel food cake, it will not rise as well without the extra sugar. You can cut it down some, but realize it may make a denser cake.
10) Add the flour gradually, using a soft folding motion. The egg whites will stay fluffier.

So there are some of the traditional tips for making a successful angel food cake. Other ideas I’ve recently read include greasing the pan, but sprinkling with sugar for the cake to cling too. Greasing it helps the cake remove more easily, while the sugar gives the cake both something to cling to and a nice sugary crust. If you don’t have a tube cake pan (I don’t and had to borrow my mother’s for this recipe), people will line loaf pans with parchment paper (with the greased and sugared sides), or make angel food cake muffins. Both of these methods won’t produce as light of angel food cakes, but are definite options for those of us without angel food cake pans.

Angel Food Cake

    ½ cup of brown rice flour, white rice flour, since it’s not soaked, or sprouted rice flour
    ½ cup of arrowroot flour
    1 ½ cups room temperature egg whites ( from about 12 eggs)
    1 ½ teaspoons cream of tarter
    1/4 teaspoon unrefined salt
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    1 ½ cups of whole cane sugar (such as rapadura or sucant), maple sugar, coconut/palm sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
1) In a food processor, process the sugar to make it fine. (Otherwise it won’t dissolve well in the egg whites).
2) Whisk the flour, arrowroot powder, and ½ the sugar in a small bowl.
3) In a very clean, non plastic bowl, beat the egg whites, cream of tarter and vanilla on low for one minute (using either a hand mixer or in a Kitchen aid). Increase the speed to medium speed and beat until it resembles soft foam composed of tiny bubbles ( about 1 ½ to 3 minutes). The foam will hold a soft moist shape when the beaters are lifted out. Beat in gradually the rest of the sugar, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time.. Do not beat until stiff.
4) Gradually and gently fold in the flour/sugar mixture, 2 tablespoons at a time, until it’s all combined.
5) Pour/scrape into the angel food cake tube pan. Place in the oven for about 50 minutes, and remove when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
6) Let cool upside down (place the center tube hole in a wine or olive oil bottle) for about 1 ½ hours.
7) To unmold, slide a thin sharp knife to cut around all of the edges and remove the sides of the pan. Slide the same knife under the bottom of the cake. Remove to platter and serve.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!


  1. says

    I love your site! Thanks for sharing the great recipes. I am always looking for nourishing, simple and frugal recipes for my family. I’ll be visiting often!

  2. Anali says

    One way to ensure you have no grease on your mixing bowl or beating equipment is the clean it with a salt scrub(Some salt and enough water to make it a paste)

    This is what we learned to do in school whenever beating egg whites, works every time.

  3. Cory says

    According to Joy of Cooking, if you live at altitude (3000+ ft above sea level), you don’t have to let the whites warm to room temperature before beating. In fact, you shouldn’t. A plus for those of us up a little higher! It has to do with air pressure and how things rise once in the oven, I think.

  4. Heather says

    Thanks so much for the timely tips! I had a homemade angelfood cake on my menu for Independence Day.

  5. says

    Interesting recipe. I’d love to try it. Maybe this is silly but do you add only brown or white rice flour or is it 1/2 cup of each?

    • KimiHarris says

      Hi Debra!

      Good question. 🙂 Just 1/2 cup of brown rice, white rice or sprouted rice flour. 🙂

  6. Elaine says

    Thank you for another great recipe. I was just wondering how to do meringue type recipes that are healthier. Any ideas on how to do a lower glycemic angel food cake??? I was wondering about substituting xylitol for half the sugar – ?

    • kitblue says

      I recently heard about glycerol, also called glycerin, which is also a sugar alcohol and very easy to find in the baking section of supermarkets. It is marketed to keep icing colour intact. I do not know what ratio to substitute sugar alcohols for sugars or even if all alcohols have the same sweetness.

      • Cath says

        I have never heard of using glycerin as a sugar substitute so not sure about sweetness etc, but I recently learnt that it helps to retain moisture in baked gluten free goods like cakes. Just add 1 tsp per recipe. Not sure how “healthy” it is, (although my book of additives gives it a green light) but for the number of times I am making cakes I don’t think it will have a detrimental effect:-)

    • Muriel says

      No; brown rice flour, white rice flour, and sprouted rice flour are all the options. You can use one of those, or a combination- either works fine.

  7. says

    Angel food cake is not something commonly found over here. I have so many surplus eggwhites a week that I’m always after good recipes to use them in, so thanks!

  8. Muriel says

    I think I will make this for my birthday. But of course, I will have to do some practice batches in advance.

  9. says

    You’re pictures always make me really want to eat whatever is in the photo, not sure why 🙂 traditional food prepared with love must just be so appealing! Thanks Kimi

  10. KellyBelly says

    Homemade angel food cake is so yummy! Melts in your mouth. I haven’t made one in years. So glad to see a GF option, since that is how my son and I now eat. looking forward to trying it out! thanks

  11. Janell says

    Google Reader introduced me to this post . Thanks for the tips. Here’s one of my own. I use a balloon whisk to fold the flour into the eggs – I’m too liable to mash the eggs with any other tool. Cheers!

  12. says

    Yay! I have tons of egg whites leftover from making ice cream, so I was thinking of making this for Christmas- for Jesus’ birthday cake. 🙂 Just a quick question- is arrowroot flour different from arrowroot powder?

  13. Jess says

    Any suggestions when the egg whites seperate while baking? My angel food cake had a ring of just egg whites.

  14. Karen says

    I remember my grandmother’s angel food cake, my favorite for birthdays. This would be good with the Lemon Curd noted elsewhere. I don’t know how this will work at high altitude (Denver, CO), but it’s worth a shot.

  15. Amy says

    I used 1/2 cup aarowroot, 1/4 cup quinoa and 1/4 cup tapioca flours. I pulled it out 5 min early because the toothpick was clean. Inside the cake was a little sticky and mushy. Why? Is it too much starch (the combination of tapioca and arrowroot could be the problem, but I have seen recipes that use nothing but corn starch in place of flour–have you tried it with only aarowroot?). It could also be that the cake needed another 5 min to cook. What happens when this cake is under-done? I’m toying with the possible flour combinations: 1) 1/4 cup Quinoa, 1/8 cup coconut, 1/8 cup brown rice, 1/2 cup arrowroot; 2) 1/4 cup Quinoa, 1/8 cup flax meal, 1/8 cup coconut, 1/2 cup arrowroot; 3) 1/2 cup aarowroot and 1/2 cup Quinoa. Which do you think is the best combination? Brown rice spikes my blood sugar. Finally, have you tried Xanthun Gum in this recipe? I’ve heard that if there is enough moisture in the recipe, it will help create air. But if the recipe is too dry, it will create a brick.

    • Jean says

      I’ve read other places that the toothpick method of checking for doneness can give a false positive because of the air pockets or something.
      It is recommended to check doneness by gently pushing on the top – if it readily springs back it is done. I’ve also read that if the cracks on the top have a dry look rather than a wet look, it is done.
      So perhaps it wasn’t your recipe at all, but that your cake wasn’t really finished cooking.

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