Ah, angel food cake....
Long treasured for its ethereal texture, pure vanilla flavor, and snowy color, this delicious cake doesn't have to disappear from your recipe repertoire, simply because you're baking gluten-free.
With much of its structure coming from the protein in egg whites, rather than gluten, angel food cake is a prime candidate for a gluten-free makeover.
Which is just what our crack team of GF recipe developers – Andrea, Frank, and Sue – have done.
They tinkered and tweaked, tested and tasted, and finally came up with a gluten-free angel food cake recipe that earns a universal thumbs up from King Arthur's chief crew of taste-testers: the customer service reps and bakers who answer your calls and emails and requests to live chat each day.
Our customer service area, fondly known as "CSR-land," is the heart and soul of King Arthur Flour. It's our front line – where we meet you, our customers, to share our mutual love of food and baking and all things flour-related.
And frankly, we learn just as much from you as you do from us. As we continue developing gluten-free recipes, we carefully consider your comments – on these blog posts, on Facebook, and accompanying the online recipes themselves.
You've alerted us to the benefits of sorghum flour; to the fact that oats aren't necessarily gluten-free, and to the possibilities of guar gum, and chia seeds. Every day, in one place or another, you take the time to let us know what you think.
And that, my friends, is invaluable information. Because what you want and need to fulfill your baking dreams is exactly what we want to offer you.
So, thanks for choosing to talk to us, in so many ways. We appreciate your presence here – and hope you enjoy this latest installment in our ever-growing cache of gluten-free recipes: Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake.
Preheat the oven to 350°F, with the oven rack in its lowest position.
Whisk together and the following:
Many of our gluten-free recipes use our King Arthur Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour, which includes ingredients that reduce the grittiness sometimes found in gluten-free baked goods. Our flour also increases the shelf life of your treats, keeping them fresh longer.
Can you substitute plain granulated sugar? Yes; it'll take much longer for the egg whites to attain their required volume, and the cake's texture won't be as fine. If you don't have Baker's Special Sugar or superfine sugar, process regular granulated sugar in a food processor until finely ground. The result won't be quite the same, but will be better than using plain granulated sugar.
Next, sift the flour, cornstarch and sugar. This might seem excessive in this time-challenged era, but each action – whisking, followed by sifting – performs a separate function: whisking makes sure the ingredients are evenly distributed; and sifting lightens them, removes any lumps, and allows the mixture to be mixed into the egg whites with little effort. So make that extra effort; you'll be glad you did.
Next, crack 10 to 11 large eggs and measure the whites into a clean measuring cup; you need 1 1/2 cups egg whites. The eggs should be cold; they separate more easily that way, with less chance of getting any stray yolk into the cup.
So, what's wrong with a bit of yolk? The tiniest bit of fat (or speck of egg yolk) will inhibit the egg whites from beating up thick and foamy.
Can you use different size eggs? Sure; you'll use more or fewer of them to get 1 1/2 cups of whites, that's all.
Pour the egg whites into a clean bowl (remember, we're avoiding fat; so the bowl needs to be squeaky clean). Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar. Beat until foamy.
See how foamy the whites are? They haven't really started to expand when you add the vanilla, but they've definitely been whipped to a froth.
Gradually increase the speed of the mixer and continue beating until the egg whites have increased in volume, and thickened a bit.
Gradually beat in 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons superfine sugar a bit at a time, until the meringue holds soft peaks.
Don't over-whip the egg whites! Many recipes tell you to whip the whites until they hold a stiff peak, but it's better to whip only until the peaks are still soft enough to slump over at their peak. Under-beating slightly allows air cells in the beaten whites to expand during baking without rupturing.
Gently fold in the sifted flour/sugar blend ¼ cup at a time, just until incorporated.
Spoon the batter into an ungreased 10" round angel food pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter to settle the batter and remove any large air bubbles.
Gently smooth the batter in the pan. It doesn't need to look perfect; just get rid of some of the larger peaks and valleys.
Bake the cake for about 45 minutes.
It'll rise very high...
...then settle as it continues to bake. When done, it'll be a deep golden brown, and the top will spring back when pressed lightly.
Remove the cake from the oven and invert the pan. It'll rest nicely on its feet, if it has them.
If the pan is footless, invert it onto the neck of a heatproof bottle or funnel, to suspend the cake upside down as it sets and cools, about 2 hours.
Remove the cake from the pan by running a thin spatula or knife around the edges of the pan, and removing the pan's sidewalls.
Lift the remainder of the pan away from the cake, and set it on a serving plate.
If you're using a one-piece pan, simply loosen the cake's edges and turn it out onto a plate.
Allow the cake to cool completely before cutting and serving. Cut the cake with a serrated knife or angel food cake comb. If it's difficult to cut, wet the knife and wipe it clean between slices.
Serve with whipped cream and fruit. Wrap any leftovers airtight, and store at room temperature.
Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake.