Sweet Sundays: Alisa Fleming ~ This may surprise you, but the standard angel food cake recipe is naturally dairy-free. It uses loads of egg whites for all of the moisture, so that no milk, sour cream, or heavy cream is required! (If you are confusing eggs for dairy, you’re not alone, see this post for an explanation.) As a result, basic angel food cake is virtually fat free, and can be kept light and delicious with a simple garnish of fresh, seasonal berries.
I have to admit, I was terrified the first time I entertained the idea of baking angel food cake in my own kitchen. So many egg whites, whipping to stiff peaks, was it a soufflé disaster waiting to happen? Fortunately, angel food cake is not only easy to bake, but it is pretty much fool proof – trust me. The recipe below is the one that I have been working from for years, and I have never had a bad turnout.
Again, you can keep it simple by just slicing up the cake and placing a bowl of fresh berries beside it for a colorful and light topping (blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries will make for a very festive looking 4th of July dessert), or see some of the additional suggestions below for adding a little more oomph …
Classic Angel Food Cake
This is the basic recipe that I use to make a perfect-every-time angel food cake. The recipe is from AllRecipes.com, but I have added my own notes to the ingredients and instructions.
This recipe is Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, and optionally Nut-Free. See below for more free-from options.
Separate the eggs. You will need 1-1/2 cups of egg whites. This should be about 12 medium eggs, but feel free to measure as you go, particularly if using large or extra-large eggs as you may not need all 12. You can discard the yolks, but I prefer to refrigerate them for another use (like custard! See below). Once you have 1-1/2 cups of egg whites, place them in a mixing bowl, and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
Meanwhile, sift the powdered sugar and flour together three times; set aside. The sifting is very important for getting that light texture. If you don’t have a flour sifter, a fine mesh strainer works just as well (flour sifters always seem to break on me, so I stick to the strainer!). Add the cream of tartar, extracts, and salt to the egg whites, and beat the mixture on high speed. Gradually add the granulated sugar, beating until the sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form. Gradually fold in the flour mixture (about 1/4 cup at a time). Gently spoon the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Gently cut through batter with a knife to remove air pockets.
Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched. Immediately invert pan, but cool completely before removing cake from pan.
Real Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake – I love this version from Cooking Light (March 2006) not only because it is spiked with fresh vanilla bean, but also because it is a bit lower in sugar than the standard recipe.
Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake – Would you believe that the photo below is actually a gluten-free angel food cake? Linda is amazing, and so is this recipe.
Vegan Angel Food Cake – In all honesty, I don’t believe that angel food cake has yet been replicated in an egg-free version. Without the fluffed egg whites, the end result will always be a bit (or a lot) heavier. But this cake recipe looks to be a nice option for vegans and those with egg allergies when a lighter summer cake is in order.
Sweeten those berries with a recipe for Mixed Berry Topping.
Keep it unrefined with my recipe for Chunky Blueberry Maple Sauce. Feel free to use mixed berries for a multicolored dessert.
Use up a couple of those egg yolks, and layer your angel food cake with this easy Custard Filling:
Combine 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 2 egg yolks, and 1 cup of your favorite regular or vanilla milk alternative in the top of a double boiler. Stir well with a whisk. Cook over simmering water for 8 to 10 minutes or until thickened, whisking constantly. Remove the mixture from the heat; whisk in 1 tablespoon of dairy-free margarine (such as Earth Balance) and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Pour the custard into a bowl; place plastic wrap directly on top of custard to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.
For a quick and pretty Vanilla Icing / Glaze:
Melt 1 tablespoon of dairy-free margarine in a medium bowl (can sub shortening or coconut oil, but will be a touch different). Whisk in 1 tablespoon of corn syrup, 1 tablespoon of original or vanilla milk alternative, 1/8 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1-1/2 cups powdered / confectioners' sugar. Whisk in more milk alternative to reach the desired consistency. Pour over cake.
Additional recipes from Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook that will go beautifully with this angel food cake include the Cool Whipped Coconut Cream, the Sweet & Silky Butterscotch Sauce, and the Quick Caramelita Sauce.
Article by Alisa Fleming, founder of GoDairyFree.org and author of Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a freelance writer for several publications, with an emphasis on creating recipes for various types of special diets. Photo below by Linda of The Gluten-Free Homemaker.