What Makes An Angel Food Cake Rise And Get That Airy Texture?

I have always wanted to make an angel food cake from scratch. I know,  I’m 64 years old and have never made one.  So today was THE day. I finally got my gumption up and decided to find out just how hard or easy one was to make. But the first question is “what makes an angel food cake rise?”  Did I have all the ingredients I needed? 

 The recipe I decided to use is from  “The Homestyle Amish Kitchen Cookbook.  Why? Well, I know that the Amish are great cooks so the recipe has to be good. Right? After checking the recipe and my pantry, I did have all the ingredients necessary to make my angel food cake. 

What Makes An Angel Food Cake Rise?

The most important ingredient and the one that makes an angel food cake rise is egg whites.  It is the sole leavening agent. Whipping air into the egg whites until stiff peaks appear and gently folding in the rest of the ingredients gives the cake rise and that airy texture.  

For maximum rise and volume, fresh eggs are best.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t use less fresh eggs, the rise just may be compromised.  In fact, I  used eggs that had been in my refrigerator for several days.  For some of them, I wasn’t sure just how fresh they were.  My husband gets eggs from his boss and I am never sure just when they are gathered.

I have gotten in the habit of checking them to make sure that they are good.  To do this I just drop an egg into a tall glass of water.  If it sinks, it is still good.  If it floats, I throw it away.  I checked all the eggs and had three that did float so out they went.

I separated my egg whites from the yolk and set them on the counter for about 30 minutes.  I found the easiest way to separate my eggs is with my clean hands.  Years ago I did buy an egg separator but in recent years I just don’t use it. It’s just easier to use my clean hands than trying to find the darn thing in the kitchen drawer. 

I did use my stand mixer to beat the egg whites but the rest of the recipe was done by hand.  It is very important to add your flour mixture a little at a time and gently fold it into the egg whites. 

Do You Grease Your Angel Food Pan?

It is best not to grease your tube pan. An egg white foam batter rises better when it has a surface to grab onto and climb up. By greasing your pan, you hinder this process. 

Why Put An Angel Food Cake Upside Down When Cooling?

An angel food cake has less flour than a regular cake, the rise is of course from the egg whites.  Until the cake cools, the structure is not set.  Cooling the cake upside down helps to make sure it doesn’t collapse. After removing it from the oven immediately place it onto a heat-proof bottle and leave for at least 2 hours or until cooled. 

How To Remove The Cooled Cake From The Pan

This part was a little tricky as my tube pan didn’t have a removable bottom.  I just took a thin sharp knife and went around the edges of the cake to loosen it as well as around the center.  It took a little shaking but I finally got the thing out and on my plate.  Just a little bit stuck on the bottom but that was okay.  It still looks pretty good for the first one I have ever made.  

If your tube pan has a removable bottom, watch the video below for removing your cake from the pan.


The Recipe

As I stated above the recipe I decided to make is from “The Homestyle Amish Kitchen Cookbook”.  This is a quote from the cookbook.  “You will need 1 1/2- 2 dozen large eggs to yield 1 2/3 cups of egg whites for this recipe”.  My eggs were different sizes with some of them being x-large.  It took 15 eggs to get the 1 2/3 cups of egg whites. 

That leaves you with a lot of egg yolks.  But did you know that you can freeze them for future use?   Just add salt or sugar depending on your intended use.  Savory or sweet.  1/2 teaspoon of salt or 1 1/2 teaspoon of sugar for every 4 yolks.  Stir gently into the yolks.  Freeze in ice cube trays or small bags.

If using ice cube trays just transfer the frozen cubes into freezer baggies for long-term storage. They will last for 4 months in the freezer.  I didn’t save mine.  I threw them out into the field for the varmints:) I didn’t have any ice cube trays or any freezer bags on hand.  And I’m sure the varmints enjoyed them:)

Angel Food Cake

Serve this light and airy cake with berries for a light dessert. Or if you want a more decadent dessert cover it with a whipped frosting.
5 from 1 vote
Course Dessert
Cuisine American


  • 1 2/3 cups egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gradually add sugar and vanilla
  • Mix together flour, powdered sugar, cream of tarter and salt
  • Add to egg whites a few tablespoons at a time, folding in thoroughly and carefully
  • Pour the batter in an ungreased angel food tube pan and bake 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until done.
  • Invert pan for two hours and then carefully loosen sides of cake to help release from pan.
Keyword angel food cake, Cake, dessert
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Final Thoughts

Whipped egg whites are the only leavening agent to make an angel food cake rise and get that airy texture.  According to Wikipedia,  angel food cake got its name because it is “so light that angels could eat it and still fly without being weighed down”.

The toughest part of making this cake was gently folding the other ingredients into the whipped egg whites.  You added the ingredients in 2 tablespoon increments and my arm got tired.  And removing the cake from the ungreased tube pan. Otherwise, I am happy to say that it was a lot easier than I thought, and wished that I had made one sooner.

You might like this easy peach cobbler recipe.

Have you made an angel food cake?  What were your experiences?  Please leave me a comment below with your thoughts. I love hearing from you.

And As Always

Have A Wonderful Day!


2 thoughts on “What Makes An Angel Food Cake Rise And Get That Airy Texture?”

  1. 5 stars
    Cake looks beautiful and I’m sure it was delicious too. That’s a lot of eggs for one cake. 😉
    Thanks for the TIP to save the egg yolks I didn’t know you could freeze them!👍
    I’m sure the varmets enjoyed the yolks! I think that’s also another good use for them.
    Do you add any fruit & whip topping when you enjoy the cake or just eat it plain?


Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating