ELegant layered angel food cake dessert with whipped cream and berries

Angel Food Cake’s Mysterious Beginnings

No one seems to agree on the history of Angel Food Cake, but there are three versions that continually pop up. One is that a secret recipe was brought by a traveler from India to a proprietor of a boarding house on the Hudson River.  As a result of the popularity of the dish the owner opened a bakery specializing in the mysterious Eastern concoction. Hmmm….maybe. A recipe did appear in a Boston cookbook in 1884.

The next version awards the original Angel Food Cake to the Pennsylvania Dutch who baked theirs in cake molds that were produced in the state of Pennsylvania. This cake became a popular wedding cake. That version, of course, is popular in our part of the country!

And the third version (the one I find most likely) concludes that it was the African slaves who popularized the cake. Because of their endurance, they possessed the strength to whip a dozen or more egg whites by hand (this was even before the rotary beater) for hours on end to obtain the light meringue-like consistency. Recipes were found in 1881 in a cookbook written by a former slave. Whatever the history of this cake – its  popularity has spread all over the United States and abroad.

What Makes It So Special?

Everyone loves a slice of angel food cake with fresh fruit on the side and a dollop of whipped cream. The light, airy sweetness and the pure whiteness makes you understand why it could easily be classified as the food of angels. It’s similar to a sponge cake but uses only the whites of eggs and no shortening. There’s no need for leavening because it makes use of trapped air bubbles in order to rise. Trapped air bubbles? That’s pretty cool.

angel food cake with berries and mint

Homemade Angel Food Cake with Berries

What Makes It Healthier?

Many people claim that Angel Food Cake  is healthier than other cakes because it has no fat. (Healthy and delicious? Let’s go with that!) Also the calorie count is often lower since there is often no need for icing. Of course if you layer it with shaved candy bars and sweetened whipped cream and drizzle butterscotch topping over it, well then…..what can I say? ;)

Perhaps you have some diet restrictions, but still long to indulge?  This recipe is a low-carb gluten free version sweetened only with stevia. The author of the recipe tried numerous variations before perfecting it, so I highly recommend using her version rather than just substituting stevia and gluten free flour. Do take time to read her blog here which gives tips for the perfect gluten-free stevia version.

How Tricky is It?

You can make an Angel Food Cake that will impress any of your friends with not much more effort than a boxed one if you follow our recipe and suggestions. Those eggs are very important in the rising process so make sure they are room temperature and separated without a drop of yellow yolk. We of course recommend free-range Certified Humane eggs such as Nature’s Yoke.  Your whites should have a soft glossy peak before you begin to fold in dry ingredients.  After pouring mixture into an angel food cake pan (with center tube and removable bottom,) give it a little pound on the counter.  Now run a spatula or knife through the ingredients to remove large air pockets.

Follow the baking times on your recipe and do not remove from oven until top is cracked, golden brown, and dry.  Turn cake upside down with tube resting on a glass bottle. Be patient no matter how delicious it smells!  When completely cool, run a knife around the edges of cake pan and tube.  Lift out of pan and again run knife along bottom.  Carefully lift cake and place on your prettiest plate!  If I were you I might consider hiding it or anyone who passes will be tempted to slice into it.  My favorite way to serve it is just like in the picture above – with fresh fruit.  But if you want some new and creative ways to use your cake, read on.

Ready for Great Angel Food Ideas?

Individual angel food cake desserts with red, white, blue theme

Individual Angel Food Cake Desserts

When our kids were growing up, they so enjoyed our special celebrations that included fruit and angel food cake squares. They stabbed these morsels with fondue forks and dipped into a pot of warm chocolate.  This of course was before chocolate fountains appeared on the scene for weddings and other special events.

This recipe is a bit more grownup with a hint of Amaretto in the chocolate fondue.  If you are including the kids, you can always use almond extract instead.

Grilled desserts are trending now.  This recipe for grilled fruit skewers uses our cake (or yours ♥) on the skewers and dips the finished result in strawberry yogurt. Yum.

Trifles involve a beautiful presentation of layered Angel Food Cake and other creative ingredients . This Piña Colada Trifle makes a luscious summer treat.  Our own Mini Strawberry Cheesecake Trifles are as delicious as they are lovely. And our Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifle is perfect for fall.

In the mood for something completely different?  Choose Angel Food Cake used to make easy churros.

Mini trifles

Individual Strawberry Cheesecake Trifles

mini angel food cakes in bundt shape

Mini Angel Food Cakes Ready to Fill

Angel Food Cake is sure to please whether you choose plain and simple…… or simply elegant!

Sliced angel food cake

Angel Food Cake – Delicious enough on its own