From America's Test Kitchen Season 5: There's a Hole in Your Cake
At its heavenly best, an angel food cake should be tall and perfectly shaped, have a snowy-white, tender crumb, and be encased in a thin, delicate golden crust. The difficulty with making a great angel food cake is that it requires a delicate balance of ingredients and proper cooking techniques. In particular, since this cake is only leavened with beaten egg whites, it is critical that you whip them correctly. Overbeaten egg whites produce a flatter cake.
First, we found it key to create a stable egg-white base, starting the whites at medium-low speed just to break them up into a froth and increasing the speed to medium-high speed to form soft, billowy mounds. Next, the sugar should be added, a tablespoon at a time. Once all the sugar is added, the whites become shiny and form soft peaks when the beater is lifted. A delicate touch is required when incorporating the remaining ingredients, such as the flour, which should be sifted over the batter and gently folded in. Angel food cakes are baked in a tube pan. We like to use a tube pan with a removable bottom but a pan without one can be lined with parchment paper. We avoid greasing the sides of the pan so that the cake can climb up and cling to the sides as it bakes—a greased pan will produce a disappointingly short cake. Follow our instructions and you’ll be rewarded with the perfect tall, light yet firm angel food cake.
Serves 10 to 12
Sift both the cake flour and the granulated sugar before measuring to eliminate any lumps and ensure the lightest possible texture.