Lemon Angel Food Cake

May 18, 2010 (Last Updated: April 8, 2020)
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A closeup of an angel food cake on a brown and beige platter

When you like food that is bad for you as much as I do, sometimes you need a little something that tastes like it’s bad for you, but is really pretty healthy comparatively. An angel food cake is an excellent example. While it may have its fair share of sugar, it’s actually 100% fat free, which means I can have seconds without any guilt, and trust me, you will want seconds.

closeup of a slice of angel food cake on a plate with cake in the background

I used to hate angel food cake because every time I had it, it was a dry store-bought version. The first time I had homemade angel food cake, it changed my life. This was angel food cake? It couldn’t be! This had flavor! What a difference it makes being homemade. Ever since my first time having homemade angel food cake (thanks AJ!), I have made it in culinary school and at home with great results.

overhead view of an angel food cake with a hole in the center on a platter

It really helps having a stand mixer. This recipe is so easy and whips up (literally) in no time. I used the egg whites (plus some extra) that were leftover from all the egg yolks I used in my ice cream this weekend, so there was very little waste. You can also buy cartons of egg whites if you don’t want to throw away a million yolks and don’t plan on making ice cream or Hollandaise any time soon.

a slice of angel food cake on a plate with cake in the background

I also usually use cake flour as the recipe specifies, but had run out recently so I substituted all-purpose flour. My cake turned out well, so keep that in mind if you want to try this cake but don’t have the correct flour. It will still work, but the crumb just won’t be as fine as if you used the cake flour.

side view of an angel food cake on a brown and beige round platter

For topping, in the past I’ve drizzled melted chocolate over the cake (which is a huge hit), and this time decided to macerate some strawberries in sugar and serve that alongside. You can make a berry coulis if you’d like (basically just pureed and strained berries), or offer some lemon curd. There are so many options depending on your preference. Even serving it alone works just great! This cake is so fluffy, moist, and sweet, with just that light lemony tang, that it really doesn’t need anything at all!

*Update 11/30/14* I updated all the photos in this post to new ones!

overhead view of angel food cake on a platter next to a slice on a plate
A closeup of an angel food cake on a brown and beige platter

Lemon Angel Food Cake

Victoria
This classic angel food cake get an added boost from a generous addition of lemon zest.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 servings
Calories 178 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups sifted sugar divided
  • 1 1/3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 1/2 cups egg whites at room temperature (10 to 12 eggs)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine 1/2 cup of sugar with the flour and sift together. Set aside.
  • Place the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on high speed until the eggs make medium-firm peaks, about 1 minute.
  • With the mixer on medium speed, add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of sugar by sprinkling it over the beaten egg whites. Whisk for a few minutes until thick and shiny.
  • Whisk in the vanilla and lemon zest and continue to whisk until very thick, about 1 more minute. Sift about 1/4 of the flour mixture over the egg whites and fold it into the batter with a rubber spatula. Continue adding the flour by fourths by sifting and folding until it’s all incorporated.
  • Pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan, smooth the top, and bake it for 35 to 40 minutes, until it springs back to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and invert the pan on a cooling rack until cool.

Notes & Nutrition

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style
Servings 12.0 * calories 178 * Total Fat 0 g * Saturated Fat 0 g * Monounsaturated Fat 0 g * Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g * Trans Fat 0 g * Cholesterol 0 mg * Sodium 121 mg * Potassium 112 mg * Total Carbohydrate 41 g * Dietary Fiber 0 g * Sugars 32 g * Protein 4 g
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*

9 Comments

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    May 18, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    That looks beautiful and delicious!

    Could you please explain how to invert the pan so that the cake does not flatten? Do you just flip the cake over on a drying rack? I tried to invert an angel food cake out of the oven onto a wine bottle and half the cake fell from the pan!

  • Reply
    Victoria
    May 18, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Oh no!! I just inverted it directly onto a cooling rack, still on the pan, and just left it upside down on the rack until completely cool. Then I flipped it right-side up and used a knife to loosen around the edges where it had started to crust onto the pan. Finally, I placed the serving dish upside down onto the cake, flipped the whole thing over, tapped it really hard on the bottom of the pan and said a little prayer as I lifted the pan (with a little jiggle) and the cake landed perfectly on my serving dish. Good luck next time

  • Reply
    Cinnamon-Girl
    May 19, 2010 at 12:28 am

    It's been a long time since I made one of these! But with all the luscious berries coming into season this is the perfect time! Scrumptious!

  • Reply
    Lucine
    May 19, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    This cake was FABULOUS, Vic!! You're right – the first time I had store-bought angel food cake, it tasted like eating a sponge! This cake was soooo different, moist and flavorful – you would never feel like you were eating something relatively 'healthy'!

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    May 20, 2010 at 1:13 am

    Angel cake with lemony flavor sounds excellent! So light and delicious and perfect with berries!

  • Reply
    Juliana
    May 21, 2010 at 3:29 am

    Angel food cake, and lemon…looks fabulous, like the way you serve…with strawberries…yummie!

  • Reply
    Matthew Dunn
    October 14, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Can this be made in cupcake tins?

  • Reply
    Victoria
    October 17, 2012 at 11:49 am

    I've made this in mini angel food cake pans before. Not sure cupcake tins would be best, but you could try them.

  • Reply
    Samantha
    June 22, 2020 at 2:04 pm

    5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe twice now.
    First time it was a little dense and I believe it’s because the egg whites werent room temp (were very cold because they came out of freezer, but not frozen) and the cake probably came out of tin before it was completely cooled. however, it still tasted great!
    second time I made it, so so yummy, but still a tad bit dense and I think it’s because I used all purpose flour and not cake flour, as the recipe called for. however, it was still so tasty and the lemon is terrific in it. I love the slight crust it makes as well.
    perhaps i will buy some cake flour and try that next time.

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