This gluten-free angel food cake is light and airy, while still incredibly moist. With a slight nuttiness from almond flour and almond extract, this gluten-free sponge cake is so flavorful and the perfect cake to pair with whipped cream and strawberries. Follow the recipe steps and technique very closely to achieve a beautifully tight and incredibly fluffy crumb.
This post is brought to you by Bob’s Red Mill, a long-term partner of Snixy Kitchen
The Best Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake
Zoella calls this gluten-free angel food cake "the marshmallow cake" because its is so light, fluffy, and incredibly moist, with a hint of vanilla shining through. She savored every perfect bite: a bit of cake, a slice of strawberry, and a scrape of whipped cream.
Ira picked up a cake slice and ate it like a watermelon in less than 30 seconds. No toppings required.
Honestly, I see the allure of both methods.
This gluten-free angel food cake tastes just like the a classic angel food cake and 100x better than store-bought angel food cake. It's lofty and airy, with the perfect balance of sweetness, making it great for toppings and delicious enough to eat on its own.
Over the last few months, I've developed this gluten-free angel food cake as part of my year-long partnership with Bob’s Red Mill. Here’s a list of all the recipes I’ve made in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill over the years.
Is angel food cake gluten-free? How about dairy-free?
Unfortunately, most angel food cake is not gluten-free. The primary ingredients in an angel food cake are egg whites, sugar, and flour.
That being said, this angel food cake is gluten-free! You can easily make gluten-free angel food cake at home.
Angel food cake is, however, naturally dairy-free! So with this recipe you can serve up friends who are both gluten-free and dairy-free.
Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake Ingredients
The major ingredients of angel food cake are egg whites, sugar, and flour. Here I've made a blend of Bob's Red Mill gluten-free flours that work together to mimic cake flour.
I recommend measuring each of the ingredients (including sugar and egg whites) by weight as angel food cake can be fussy. It's important you don't stray from the recipe else you wind up with a deflated cake. For each of these flours, I exclusively use Bob's Red Mill brand flours as they are consistent in quality and grind. If you use a different brand, your results may vary.
Here are all the ingredients you need for this gluten-free angel food cake.
- Egg whites: There isn't any chemical leavener in this cake, such as baking soda or baking powder, so angel food cake relies on whipped egg whites for its rise. You want to make sure there is no egg yolk in your whites as it can negatively affect how well they whip up. I recommend separating the egg whites and yolks one at a time into a separate bowl before pouring it into the measuring cup so if you break a yolk, you don't ruin all your whites!
- Cream of tartar: Found in the spice section of the grocery store, cream of tartar stabilizes the whipped egg whites. In doing so, the small amount of cream of tartar will reduce how much the cake deflates when you carefully fold in the flours.
- Sugar: This recipe uses granulated sugar and then calls for finely grinding it in a food processor or blender. You could also opt to use superfine sugar if you have some, just be sure to measure by weight.
- Superfine Blanched Almond Flour: Superfine Blanched almond flour adds moisture to the cake. It also adds a subtly sweet nuttiness that pairs well with angel food cake.
- Tapioca Flour: Tapioca flour rises in the oven that helps mimic the fluffiness of a classic cake. It adds just a bit more softness and loftiness to the crumb and lends to the chewiness.
- Sweet Rice Flour: Sweet rice flour is necessary for the chewy texture of this cake crumb. Sweet rice flour is distinctively different than white rice or brown rice flour. The same flour used to make mochi, its stickiness helps to bind the crumb together, creating the sponginess of a classic angel food cake. It’s gluten-free baking’s secret weapon.
- Cornstarch: Adding cornstarch to the flour blend helps it mimic the taste and texture of a light and fluffy cake flour that leads to a tender crumb.
- Xanthan Gum: This gluten-free cake relies on xanthan gum. Without it, the cake will bake up dense - it helps maintain the structure of the cake. If you’re just starting out with gluten-free baking, xanthan gum may seem expensive. However, a bag stretches a very long way. Each recipe typically only calls for ½-1 teaspoon. I keep it in my fridge and a bag lasts me almost 2 years, so if you plan on getting more serious about gluten-free baking, know that it lasts a long time and you'll get a lot of cakes out of a single bag.
- Kosher Salt: While it seems counterintuitive, salt is essential for delicious cakes. It helps bring out the sweetness and adds flavor to the crumb.
- Vanilla Extract and Almond Extract: Both of these extracts help flavor the crumb.
There's no fat in this cake batter as it doesn't contain butter, oil, or egg yolks. As such it's the lightest, fluffiest, sponge cake ever!
How to whip egg whites for angel food cake
While some recipes call for whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks, I found that to get the most reliably beautiful gluten-free angel food cake, whipping the egg whites to medium soft peaks that come to a peak then flop over was key. Lift the whisk out of the bowl and it should create a point that lightly folds over at the tip. At this point, the eggs still have room to expand in the oven and are less likely to collapse as it bakes.
Start with fresh room temperature egg whites (from whole eggs, not from a box). To quickly bring your egg whites to room temperature, place the whole eggs in their shell in a bowl of warm water for 5-10 minutes. Then dry the eggs and crack and separate the whites from the yolks one at a time, measuring out the whites using a scale.
How to make gluten-free angel food cake
Now that you've got the secret of perfectly whipped egg whites, here's how to make the full cake:
- Make superfine sugar. In a food processor or blender, pulse the sugar until super fine and powdery, 1-2 minutes. Remove 1 cup and set aside.
- Pulse the flour with the remaining sugar. Add the almond flour, tapioca flour, sweet rice flour, corn starch, xanthan gum, and salt to the food processor, and pulse.
- Whip egg whites with cream of tartar. Whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low for about a minute until the eggs are foamy.
- Slowly pour in sugar then extract. Very slowly pour in the 1 cup of fine sugar you pulsed. Whip until medium soft (but not stiff!) peaks form. When you lift the mixer, a peak should start to stand up at a point, but then instantly fold over onto itself. Just before it's done, add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix them into the egg whites.
- Slowly sift flours into egg whites. Using a fine mesh sieve, sift the flour mixture into the egg whites in four batches, using a silicone spatula to fold the dry ingredients in slowly and carefully.
- Put in tube pan and bake. Gently shake the pan to smooth the surface and bake for 58-62 minutes.
- Invert the pan to cool. Once done baking, immediately invert the pan onto the counter to cool completely upside down, 1.5-2 hours.
- Remove from pan. Dust it with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream and strawberries.
What kind of pan for angel food cake?
For an angel food cake, you need a tube pan (also called an angel food cake pan) with a removable bottom. Look for one that is not non-stick as it's essential that the cake batter can cling to the sides and rise up the sides as it bakes. For this reason, you also should not grease a tube pan when using it for an angel food cake.
I also recommend a light-colored tube pan so the outside of your cake does not get too dark while the crumb bakes. This is the tube pan I use, which also has little feet that are helpful when you turn the cake upside down to cool!
The center hollow tube of the tube pan helps support even heat distribution and strengthens the cake as it rises.
While it also has a center tube, do not use a bundt pan. Since you do not grease the pan for an angel food cake, the cake will stick to all the crevices of a bundt pan when you try to remove it!
How to tell when angel food cake is done
For this gluten-free angel food cake, err on the side of over-baked rather than underbaked. An underbaked angel food cake won't hold its structure and will come out overly moist and gummy. To tell when your cake is done, your cake should spring back when gently touched in the middle and a tester should come out clean when inserted.
When in doubt, keep it in for a few minutes longer. I've yet to overbake this angel food cake!
Cool angel food cake upside down
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, invert the cake pan onto a wire rack to cool completely (1.5-2 hours). Cooling the can upside down ensures that the cake does not sink onto itself while cooling. This ensures the best and most fluffy texture.
If the middle of your tube pan does not touch the counter, support it with an upside-down bowl or cup while it cools (see picture). This ensures the cake maintains its structure while it cools.
Tips and FAQ
Clean baking equipment well
Before starting, make sure your mixing bowl and whisk are clean of any oil or fat as it will negatively affect how well your egg whites whip. I recommend using glass or metal mixing bowls, as plastic mixing bowls are more likely to retain oils and far. You can optionally, brush them with a tiny bit of vinegar and wipe it out with a clean towel to remove any fat.
Why did my angel food cake collapse or turn out gummy?
While super simple to make once you get the hang of it, angel food cake can be a bit more finicky than cakes that use chemical leaveners and fats. Here are the most likely culprit for an angel food cake that collapses or is gummy.
- Over or under whipped egg whites. Under aerating your egg whites won't give you cake the lift and structure needed. On the same note, overwhipping your egg whites can make it so the egg whites have no room to continue to rise and puff in the oven. See the section above about how to whip your egg whites and watch the video to see it in action.
- Underbaking. Underbaked angel food cake will collapse and turn out gummy, as too much moisture is retained in the cake. As mentioned above, I have yet to overbake this gluten-free angel food cake, so when in doubt, err on the side of overbaking the cake.
- Not cooling completely or upside down. It's important to invert the cake while it cools and to cool it completely so it can maintain its structure as it cools. Cooling it right-side up can cause it to collapse before the structure sets. Likewise, cutting into it too soon before the structure of the cake sets, can cause it to collapse.
How to cut an angel food cake?
Using a serrated knife to gently and carefully saw the cake will ensure that this fluffy cake is not crushed under the weight of the knife.
Is angel food cake healthier than regular cake?
Depends on your definition of healthy. This cake has far fewer calories, thanks to no added fat or egg yolks, but it still has a fair amount of sugar.
How to serve angel food cake?
My favorite way to serve angel food cake is with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and berries. You can optionally macerate the berries with a teaspoon of sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice if you like.
You could also serve it drizzled with chocolate ganache or with spoonfuls of lemon curd and fresh berries.
How to store leftovers
This gluten-free angel food cake has the best texture if served within 24 hours of baking. Store any leftovers at room temperature, covered completely. You can cover it well in plastic wrap or slice it and store it in a large airtight storage container.
- 325g (1½ cups + 2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
- 35g (5 tablespoons) Bob's Red Mill Super-Fine Blanched Almond Flour
- 35g (5 tablespoons) Bob's Red Mill Tapioca Flour
- 40g (¼ cup) Bob's Red Mill Sweet Rice Flour (different from white rice flour or brown rice flour!)
- 34g (¼ cup) Bob's Red Mill Cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
- ½ teaspons kosher salt
- 380g (1½ cups) egg whites, room temperature (from about 11-12 whole large eggs)
- 1½ teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- Powdered sugar, whipped cream, and berries, for serving (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a food processor or blender, pulse the sugar until super fine and powdery, 1-2 minutes. Remove 200g (1 cup) and set aside.
- To the remaining sugar in the food processor or blender, add the almond flour, tapioca flour, sweet rice flour, cornstarch, xanthan gum, and salt, and pulse 10x until the flour is light and fluffy. Set aside.
- Add the room temperature egg whites and cream of tartar to the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip on medium-low for about a minute until the eggs are foamy.
- Increase speed to medium-high and very slowly pour in the 1 cup of fine sugar you pulsed. Whip for about 5 minutes, until soft (but not firm!) peaks form. When you lift the mixer, a peak should not stand up at a point, but instead, fall back onto itself (see photo above). Just before it's done, add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix into the egg whites.
- Using a fine mesh sieve, sift the flour and sugar mixture you set aside into the egg whites in four batches, using a silicone spatula to fold the dry ingredients in slowly and carefully after each addition until just mixed.
- Spoon or pour the batter into an ungreased 9 or 10-inch tube pan for angel food cake, ensuring the batter hits all the corners. Gently shake the pan to smooth the surface and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325°F and bake for an additional 43-47 minutes (for a total of 58-62 minutes), until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.
- When the cake comes out of the oven, immediately invert the pan onto the counter to cool completely upside down, 1.5-2 hours. If the middle of your tube pan does not touch the counter, support it with an upside-down bowl or cup while it cools (see picture). This ensures the cake maintains it structure while it cools.
- Run a knife around the edge of the pan before removing it from the pan. Dust with powdered sugar. To slice, use a sharp serrated knife and gently saw back and forth to avoid deflating/smashing the cake. Serve with whipped cream and strawberries, if desired.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 14 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 105Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 12mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 3g
This nutritional information has been automatically calculated, and as such, may be incomplete or inaccurate. Please reference the specific ingredients you use for the most accurate nutritional information.