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I’m so glad you could swing by to check out my Fluffy Lemon Lime Angel Food Cake! Let me tell you, I had to work for this guy! I made some mistakes along the way, and of course I’m going to tell you about them. And then I’m also going to tell you how to avoid them so you don’t have to replicate my mistakes.
For the first two tries, I based my recipe on this recipe from King Arthur. I’m not saying this is a bad recipe–that wouldn’t be fair. What I am saying is with two tries, I wasn’t able to achieve fluffy lemon lime angel food perfection using this recipe. You may have different results, and it has obviously worked for other people. Just not for me. Sigh. Also, I want to point out that I didn’t follow their recipe exactly.
In Search of the Perfect Angel Food Cake
The first cake tasted great, so yay for that. But the texture was too chewy. The crumb looked more like bread than cake. Maybe I overmixed it? Maybe there wasn’t quite enough sugar to tenderize it? I think using cake flour is a better bet than using all purpose. Gluten is not our friend with angel food cake. Since they contain zero fat (more or less), they need plenty of sugar to keep them tender.
I also think I made a serious error by adding the citrus zests in with the egg whites. I think the amount of oil in the zest inhibited the foaming action. A tiny bit of fat really doesn’t make an enormous difference like everyone tries to scare you into believing, but the amount of citrus oil in the zest of 5 fruits was maybe a bit more than my whites would let me get away with.
If At First You Don’t Succeed…
Round 2. Same recipe. Different procedure. I used cake flour. I added all the zest in at the very end and folded everyone together. The cake tasted great; the texture was definitely better, but the cake sank a bit while still in the oven, and the sides and top were wet once it had finally cooled and I depanned it. What is up with that? Wet cake? Gross. I think that, whatever happened to make it sink also ended up squeezing some of the water from the egg whites out of the mix. Sigh.
Round 3. After some crowd-sourced troubleshooting on facebook, my friend Janice Mansfield told me that the ratio she uses to make an angel food cake is 3:3:1 whites:sugar:flour. Using that formula, I went with 12 oz each of sugar and egg whites and 4 oz of cake flour. And guess what? Success! I love a good ratio, and I’m here to tell you that this one really works.
After all my trials and errors, I feel pretty confident about making an Angel Food Cake Troubleshooting Guide.
And here it is.
Angel Food Cake Troubleshooting Guide
|Cake's Texture is Too Coarse||Not Enough Sugar|
Whites under- or over-beaten
Too much gluten in the flour (use cake flour)
|Cake Doesn't Rise||Egg Whites Over-beaten|
Oven not hot enough
Grease pan--you need an ungreased pan.
|Cake Sinks in Oven||Egg Whites Over-Beaten|
Oven temperature too low
|Outside of Cake is Damp after baking||Egg Whites Over-Beaten|
Old Egg Whites. Fresh whites don't weep as much as older whites.
|Cake Sinks While Cooling||Cake not inverted to cool|
|Cake Overly Domes and Short||Oven Temperature too high. The sides set before the whites achieved optimum rise|
Fluffy Lemon Lime Angel Food Cake
So, the magic ratio of 3:3:1 works. This is great news, because now you can make a small angel food cake or a big old angel food cake with the same ingredient list. All you have to do is change the amounts and stick to the ratio. For a “full-size” angel food cake made in a standard aluminum footed angel food pan, you’re looking at 12 oz each of whites and sugar and 4 oz of cake flour. Need a half-size angel food cake? No problem. 6 oz each egg whites and sugar and 3 oz cake flour.
Of course, you’ll probably want some flavoring. Traditional is vanilla with maybe a touch of almond extract, but since I was in search of a really citrusy flavor so I could actually call it lemon lime angel food cake and not yellow and green angel food cake, I used a Tablespoon each of freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice, the zest of 3 limes and 2 lemons and just a touch of lemon extract. The only other two ingredients are salt and cream of tartar. The cream of tartar is there to help stabilize the egg white foam, and the salt is there for flavor. Salt can also help to strengthen an egg foam–not by much, maybe, but with an egg-foam based cake, every little bit helps.
The flavor of this cake is pretty assertive, which is a nice surprise from a usually mild-tasting cake. Since it is so very citrusy, it would be a lovely base for a berry sauce or compote–strawberry, blueberry or even go tropical with mango. Delicious!
- 12 oz granulated sugar, (about 1 3/4 cups)
- 4 oz cake flour, , sifted
- 12 oz egg whites, (you can use egg whites from a carton if you don't have an immediate need to make carbonara for your youth group or something)
- 1 Tablespoon each fresh lime juice and lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon lemon extract
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- zest of 3 limes and 2 medium lemons
- Set a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 325F.
- Whiz the sugar up in your blender until it is very fine, almost powdered. Divide this sugar roughly in half, each in a bowl.
- To half of the sugar, sift in the flour and whisk together very well. Set aside.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the lemon and lime juice, the lemon extract, the salt and the cream of tartar. Whip until the mixture is just starting to form soft peaks. Slowly stream in the remaining half of the sugar and whip to just shy of medium peaks. The whites should be glossy and hold peaks for just a moment before the peaks slump over. Overbeating the whites gives them nowhere to expand, so don't whip to stiff peaks.
- Sift the flour/sugar mixture over the whites, add all the zest and fold together quickly but gently until thoroughly combined.
- Scrape the batter into an ungreased footed 2-piece angel food pan and bake in the center of the oven until well risen, cracked all around the center and deep golden brown, about 45-50 minutes. The internal temperature should read between 205F and 210F.
- Invert to cool to room temperature, about 1 1/2 hours. If possible, leave upside down and in the pan until as close to serving as you can to maintain the fluffiest texture.
- When ready to serve (or as near as you can manage) use a thin knife to cut downall around the outside of the cake and then remove the sides of the pan.
- Use a thin knife or spatula to cut down around the inside of the pan and the center tube, then slide the knife under the cake all around until you've completely freed it from the pan. Invert onto a serving platter, glaze as desired. (I used powdered sugar, a pinch of salt and lemon juice for one glaze and lime juice for the other. Just for fun I used food coloring as well. You don't have to if you don't want to).
And there you have it. Fluffy Lemon Lime Angel Food Cake and an angel food cake troubleshooting guide. I hope you enjoy the cake and that you find the guide useful!
Thanks for spending some time with me today. Take care, and have a lovely day.