Learn how to make pillowy soft gluten-free angel food cake from scratch. My detailed guide is full of tips and tricks, a list of tools, and useful FAQs, to help you successfully make the best GF angel food cake ever at home! The delicate texture of this cake is achieved with specific ingredients and mixing methods — all of which I share below!
best gluten-free angel food cake recipe
Angel food cake is a type of sponge cake that is typically made with egg whites, flour and sugar. Not only does this delicious cake have a wonderful light and fluffy texture, but it is also low in fat.
These types of cakes contain no butter, shortening and oil, and are sweetened with granulated sugar, powdered sugar, or sometimes a mixture of both. The egg whites are beaten into a stiff meringue before adding the flour and baking powder, which helps with its fluffy structure.
Although the number of egg whites required could be off putting, it’s actually a very affordable cake to make. A carton of eggs costs considerably less than butter, and the recipe contains only a small amount of gluten-free flour.
To turn this into one of the best gluten-free cake recipes, I relied on some techniques perfected when writing my gluten-free cookbook. Gluten-free baking requires a longer oven time since moisture doesn’t evaporate as readily.
Below explains what I cover in this article to jump to the section in greater detail. The bottom of the post contains the full recipe with ingredient amounts.
Table of Contents:
- Are angel food cakes gluten free?
- Ingredient notes
- How to make gluten-free angel food cake
- How to tell when the cake is done
- Why leave the pan ungreased
- Tips for separating egg whites
- Substitutes for angel food cake pan
- How to remove from the pan
- What to serve with angel food cake
- Other ways to enjoy
Are Angel Food Cakes Gluten Free?
Neither traditional, homemade or an angel food cake mix are naturally gluten-free because the recipe contains flour. However, by following this recipe for gluten-free angel food cake you will still be able to enjoy the same light, fluffy, homemade cake!
Angel food cakes do not require butter or milk, which means it is a naturally dairy-free cake. This recipe uses gluten-free flour, so now you can enjoy a gluten-free and dairy-free dessert.
Unlike other popular GF cakes, like gluten-free zucchini cake or gluten-free red velvet cake, this cake contains no fat, such as butter or oil. This achieves a light, soft texture along with the addition of cornstarch.
- Egg whites – For more a more accurate measurement, measure the egg whites instead of counting. You will need approximately 10-12 and room temperature is best or whipping.
- Gluten-free baking flour – I use and recommend Cup4Cup gluten-free flour, which really shines in this cake recipe because of the addition of cornstarch in it’s flour blend.
- Cornstarch – Used to replicate a lighter texture cake flour.
- Cream of Tartar – Helps add volume and structure to the egg whites
- Almond extract – This may be omitted or add additional vanilla extract. I like the additional hint of flavor it adds.
Wondering how different gluten free flour brands compare? Four of the most popular gluten free blends were thoroughly tested. See the surprising results for the best gluten free flour!
How To Make Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake
(Below shows step-by-step photos and modified instructions. For the complete recipe, along with ingredient amounts, scroll down to the recipe card.)
- First sift together the dry ingredients – gluten-free flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, and salt are sifted together a couple times to keep the cake light and airy instead of dense. This is especially important when using gluten-free flour, which has a tendency to be heavier.
- Next, use a whisk attachment and beat the egg whites at high speed with cream of tartar and extracts. Once they are foamy, gradually add the sugar, a couple tablespoons at a time. This gives time for the sugar to absorb into the whipped egg whites and to not become grainy. Beat until all the sugar has been incorporated and glossy soft peaks form.
- Now the gluten-free flour mixture gets folded into egg whites, a few tablespoons at a time until it is all gently mixed.
- Spoon the batter into an UNGREASED angel food cake cake pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
- Bake the cake on the LOWER-MIDDLE rack for 50-55 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the cake springs back when pressed.
- After the cake is finished baking, invert the cake pan onto the counter cool completely before serving, at least 2 to 3 hours.
How To Tell When the Cake is Done
Typically, you would insert a toothpick into a cake to see if it’s done, but this isn’t the case with a porous cake like angel food cake. So how do you know?
When your angel food cake is done, it will spring back when lightly touched. You should not see any type of indentation left from your finger – if you do, place it back in the oven to bake a little longer.
The outside should also be a beautiful golden color. Once you have the color and the spring – you know it’s ready.
Another way to test your made from scratch cake is by using a thermometer. When inserted in the center it should read at least 205 degrees Fahrenheit to keep it from collapsing.
Why leave the angel food cake pan ungreased?
Because angel food cake does not use creamed butter, it gets its volume from the beaten egg whites. This means the cake actually needs to “climb” the sides of the pan in order to rise.
If the pan is greased, then instead of clinging and climbing, it will slide down resulting in a flat cake with no fluff – which is definitely not what you want.
So no matter how tempted you may be – do not grease that pan!
tips for Separating Egg Whites
You will want to separate egg whites when the eggs are cold, and then allow them to come to room temperature.
The most important thing to remember when separating eggs is to not let any yolk get into the whites. If even a small amount of yolk is present, the whites will not volumize.
For this reason it’s best to not separate eggs over your mixing bowl. If any yolk accidentally slips through, you will ruin the whole batch and have to start again.
Use your fingers to transfer the egg yolk back and forth (pictured below), letting the egg whites drip into a bowl. Or, use an egg separator, which holds the yolk, while the egg white drips through.
So, what do you do with the extra yolks? Store them in either an airtight freezer bag or in ice cube trays and label with the date. Freeze up to one year.
When you are ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator or run bag under cold water until thawed. They work well in puddings, hollandaise, lemon curd, or use them in this Gluten-Free Coffee Cake.
substitutes for angel food cake pan
If you do not have a tube pan to bake the cake in, there are other options and substitutes. Since the cake needs room to “climb” up the sides, you may have to divide the batter into a couple baking pans.
Remember, whatever type of pan you use, never grease the pan before using. Also, still turn the pans over and let cool for 2-3 hours before removing.
- Loaf pans – divide between two and bake 35-40. minutes
- 9 X 13-inch pan – bake 35-45 minutes
- Springform pan (10-inch) 40-45 minutes
cooling and getting cake out of the pan
The most important tip to remember for how to cool an angel food cake is to turn the cake upside, while still in the pan, and cool for several hours. If the cake is removed before it fully cools, you will risk it collapsing.
Once you are ready to remove it from the pan, use a knife to go around the outer and inner ring of the pan completely. Turn the cake onto a wire rack or a cake platter.
To maintain its lovely tall height, use a serrated knife to gently saw the cake into slices.
what to serve with angel food cake
The beauty of this gluten-free angel cake recipe is the golden chewy edges, airy, light crumb, and sweet neutral taste. For this reason, there are a number of toppings, syrups, and creams to pair perfectly with it!
Other Ways to Enjoy this Cake
There are plenty of ways to enjoy angel food cake. Consider toasting slices in a toaster oven, or layer into a delectable gluten-free strawberry shortcake. Here are some other options worth trying:
- Angel food cake french toast
- Churro bites – toss with butter, cinnamon, and sugar
- Layer with fruit, pudding, and whipped cream to make a trifle
- Top with chocolate mousse
- Cover with your favorite icing, such as chocolate whipped cream frosting
SAVE THIS recipe for Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake TO YOUR PINTEREST BOARD!
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Gluten Free Angel Food Cake
- 1 ½ cups egg whites (from 10-12 eggs), room temperature
- ¾ cup gluten free all purpose flour, I recommend using Cup4Cup GF flour
- 1 ½ cup granulated sugar, divided
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract, (or use additional vanilla extract)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift together flour, 3/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, and salt together into a medium bowl. Repeat sifting again for a total of 2 times. Set aside.
- In a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, or a very large mixing bowl and hand mixer, mix together egg whites, cream of tartar, vanilla extract, and almond extract on medium-low speed until foamy.
- Increase speed to medium high and gradually mix in remaining 3/4 cup sugar, a couple tablespoons at a time, until stiff glossy peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.
- Remove bowl from stand mixer. Add flour mixture, 3 tablespoons at a time, using a rubber spatula to gently fold in each addition.
- Spoon batter into an UNGREASED angel food cake tube pan. Smooth top with a rubber spatula. Gently tap pan on counter to release air bubbles. Bake cake on LOWER-MIDDLE rack for 50-55 minutes, or until top is golden brown and cake springs back when pressed.
- Invert cake pan on counter, keeping it slightly elevated with the prongs around rim. If there are no prongs, use a bottle or funnel to invert the cake on and allow air to circulate. Let cool completely, at least 2-3 hours. Run a knife around the outer and inner edges to loosen. Turn pan upside down to release cake and transfer cake to a platter.
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Expert Baking Tips and storage
- Leave the tube pan ungreased so the cake can “climb” the sides as it bakes
- Sifting the dry ingredients a couple times first is crucial for making the texture airy
- Use a very large bowl for the egg whites, at least 5 quarts. You will need plenty of room for the egg whites to volumize and room to fold in the flour mixture.
- Separate the egg whites while they are cold, but then let the come to room temperature before mixing. This is how to achieve voluminous, stiff peaks during mixing.
- Be sure to bake the cake on the LOWER RACK of the oven so the top doesn’t become overly brown before the middle is cooked.
- When your angel food cake is done, it will spring back when lightly touched. You should not see any type of indentation left from your finger – if you do, throw it back in the oven to bake a little longer.
- Wrap leftover cake securely and leave on the counter up to two days. The cake may also may be frozen up to 3 months.
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