This gluten-free angel food cake recipe and post is sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill and contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosure statement for details.
I don’t think I can recall the last time I had angel food cake. It was definitely before I was gluten-free – so at least more than six years ago.
I remember buying the spongy cake at the supermarket, then covering it with fresh cut strawberries and plenty of whipped cream. It was an angelic dessert – light, fluffy and sweet.
After noticing that grocery stores are stocked up on angel food cake for Valentine’s Day, I wondered if I could make my own gluten-free angel food cake recipe so I could enjoy this delicious treat once again.
So I began my research on whether or not angel food cake could be converted into a gluten-free dessert.
One of the most interesting things I learned about the cake is that it has very little flour in it. As you’ll see in the recipe, the structure of the cake is highly dependent on whipped egg whites (with a bit of cream of tartar, which is simply powdered acid to help stabilize the egg white foam and whiten the mixture) rather than the proteins found in wheat like other, denser cakes.
However, angel food is a meringue cake, and only a small amount of flour – particularly cake flour – is needed to give it structure. Cake flour is light in texture, low in protein, and high in starch. In fact, the protein content in cake flour is about 8 percent, lower than the protein content in all-purpose wheat flour, which is 10-11 percent.
If you’re gluten-free, you know that the “protein” in wheat flour is gluten. Angel food cake calls for a low-protein cake flour, meaning it doesn’t need much gluten to maintain its structure or elasticity. Cake flour is a more starchy flour, just like gluten-free flours. A low protein flour, combined with the fact that angel food cake has no butter (fat) in it, angel food cake seems like it would work well as a light and fluffy gluten-free cake.
In order to create a gluten-free angel food cake of my own, I needed a gluten-free flour substitute and a gluten-free angel food cake recipe.
About the Flour
For the flour, I decided to turn to my trusty Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Flour Blend. Remember to look for the Bob’s GF flour in the blue bag. Many people confuse the 1-to-1 with the “All Purpose GF Flour” – so don’t make this mistake!
I have used Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Flour Blend for so many recipes and have achieved so much success. I’ve made the best gluten-free sugar cookies ever, as well as delicious gluten-free popovers. I know this gluten-free flour blend is the real deal!!
About the Recipe
Like so many recipes that have come before this, I utilized the ratios outlined by Michael Ruhlman in his book, Ratio. Angel food cake is 3 parts egg white, 3 parts sugar and 1 part flour.
Of course, when using ratios to build a recipe, you need a scale. If you like to bake, I highly recommend you invest in a scale. In the recipe below, I have provided you with both the measurements in weight and by cup – albeit weight measurements will give you a much more accurate recipe and will ensure your recipe turns out right. (You can purchase a quality food scale for just $10-$15 – and you will use it a lot!)
When mixing angel food cake, you must use a standing mixer or a handheld mixer in order to fully whip the egg whites into weak peaks. You don’t want to overmix the egg whites, but they should turn white and hold a peak after mixed on medium high speed after a couple of minutes.
Ruhlman says in his book that “mixing the egg whites to just the right volume and no more” is the key to making the perfect angel food cake. He says you should not mix the cake “feverishly;” rather he says the egg whites should be whipped on medium to medium-high in order to prevent overmixing. Egg whites that are too stiff won’t rise properly. The egg whites should be pourable, hold a weak peak and be white in color.
Baking Tips and Techniques
When baking angel food cake, you want to use a non-stick angel food cake pan (this is the exact pan I use). It’s a tube pan with a hole in the center. The carved out center serves a purpose as it gives the cake more surface area to cling to as it rises.
A non-stick bundt cake pan will work, as will a 9″ springform pan with a glass inserted in the middle if you want your cake to have the look of an angel food cake. Do not grease the pan either for two reasons. One, the batter needs to expand as it rises, then it uses the sides of the pan to crawl up. Greased sides would deter such rising. Two, angel food cake must cool in the inverted position. If the pan were greased, the cake would fall out of the pan and collapse.
When cooling an angel food cake, invert the cake onto a cooling rack. It will not fall on the rack, rather, air will circulate through the cake and it won’t collapse and lose its rise. Some angel food cake pans, like this one, have legs on it, so when the cake is inverted, air is able to circulate under the cake.
After the cake has cooled, you can place it on a serving dish. I believe the only way to serve angel food cake is with strawberries. I washed and cut delicious organic strawberries into a bite sized pieces, and surrounded the cake with this antioxidant-rich berry. Blueberries could also work well and they pack an even greater antioxidant punch.
And no gluten-free angel food cake recipe would be complete without some whipped cream (I can eat dairy, but I believe you can get dairy-free whipped cream too if you’re dairy-free).
Be sure to use a serrated knife when cutting angel food cake. Straight, sharp edges will compress and squish the cake, whereas a serrated knife will gently puncture the cake and offer up perfect slices.
Is your mouth watering yet? It should be!
This cake is light, spongy, sweet and delicious! It would make a perfect Valentine’s Day treat to enjoy with the gluten-free people in your life – especially those you love most. Even the gluten eaters will love this cake! In fact, don’t tell them it’s gluten-free because no one has to know. This angel food cake tastes like the real deal.
Thank you Bob’s Red Mill for your amazing gluten-free flour blend so I could make this gluten-free angel food cake recipe a reality. Visit Bob’s Red Mill online to learn more about its gluten-free practices.
Oh, and I think I might have to make devil’s food cake, the antithesis to angel food cake, next…
Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake Recipe
- 12 ounces egg whites (about 10 large eggs)
- 12 ounces sugar - divided (about 3/4 cup)
- 4 ounces Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 gluten-free flour blend (about 2/3 cup)
- Pinch of Kosher salt (about 1/2 tsp.)
- 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Sift together half of the sugar (6 ounces) and flour, set aside.
Add egg whites to a large bowl attached to your standing mixer. Mix on medium speed for 1 minute.
Add to egg whites salt, cream of tartar, lemon juice and vanilla. Mix for another minute on medium high speed, then slowly sprinkle in remaining sugar (6 ounces) and mix for another 1-2 minutes until egg whites are bright white in color, mixture is still pourable, and weak peaks are formed. Do not overmix.
Using a spatula, slowly and gently fold in part of the sifted flour-sugar mixture, working in batches until all of the flour mixture is incorporated.
Pour mixture into a 9" or 10" inch non-stick angel food cake pan. (Alternatively, you can use a springform pan with a glass inserted in the center to create the hole in the center shape)
Add cake to oven and bake for 35-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove cake from oven and allow it to cool in pan for 5 minutes before flipping it onto a cooling rack or serving dish. Allow it to cool for at least another 90 minutes in the inverted position before removing it from the pan. Do not force cake out of pan, just let is slowly detach from the pan as it cools. Once cooled, you can gently help it detach from the pan if it hasn't already.
Enjoy your angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream.
Yields one 9" cake