Chocolate Angel Food Cake
This chocolate angel food cake is incredibly light and airy and deeply chocolatey. I top mine with chocolate whipped cream and fresh berries for a heavenly treat!
While I enjoy this cake year-round, I find it especially nice to enjoy on a warm day when heavy desserts feel like too much.
Ingredients and Equipment
This recipe uses superfine sugar, also known as caster sugar. Superfine sugar is, just as the name implies, a very finely ground sugar. Because it is so fine, it helps to keep the cake nice and light. If you don’t want to buy a whole package of superfine sugar, you can pulse regular granulated sugar in a food processor to create your own superfine sugar.
You’ll also need cake flour. As a general rule, it’s always a good idea to use cake flour when you want a lighter cake. I use cake flour in my vanilla cupcake recipe for that very reason. If you don’t have cake flour, you can substitute with all-purpose flour, but the cake will be a little more dense.
Also, make sure to have a full dozen egg whites on hand for this recipe. The cake gets all of its lift from the whipped egg whites. Use the egg yolks for something else like ice cream, creme brulee, or orange curd or freeze them to use in the future.
The cake’s chocolate flavor comes from cocoa powder. You can use any cocoa powder that you like. I tend to choose a regular one, but a darker cocoa power like Hershey’s Special Dark will make the cake a darker color and a give it a deeper flavor.
You will also absolutely need an angel food cake pan [paid link]. Look for a pan that is not non-stick. You need the the batter to stick to the tall, straight sides of this pan as it bakes to help the cake become tall and airy.
How It’s Made
Start by mixing together some of the sugar with cake flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Set this aside – you’ll use it soon.
Next, whisk egg whites, water, vanilla extract, and cream of tartar until the mixture gets frothy. Then, slowly mix in sugar.
Keep whisking until the mixture looks like a fluffy white cloud (medium peaks). They should not be glossy like stiff peaks. Using cream of tartar helps the egg whites hold their shape.
Dust the top of the foam with a little bit of the flour mixture and, using a spatula, gently fold it in. Keep folding in a little bit at a time until it’s all incorporated. The goal here is to incorporate the flour mixture without losing all the air in the batter. Never use an electric mixer to add the flour mixture or you risk deflating the egg whites.
Fill the angel food cake pan with the batter.
Important: Do not grease the pan – you want the cake to stick to its sides!
Bake for 45 minutes, then cool the cake upside-down. This is a very important step! The cake won’t fall out of the pan because it is stuck to the sides and cooling upside-down keeps it from losing its height.
Either set it on the pan’s feet (if your pan comes with feet) or rest it on a bottle.
Once it has cooled for two hours, run a spatula around the edges of the pan to remove the cake.
Then, run the spatula around the bottom of the pan and the inner tube to separate the cake from that part of the pan.
Expert Tips and FAQs
Without the whipped cream, you can keep this at room temperature for one week. Once you’ve added whipped cream, store in the refrigerator for a few days. Ideally, don’t add the whipped cream until you are ready to serve.
Sure! Use this recipe, but follow the baking instructions for my angel food cupcakes.
Angel food cake is part of a group of cakes called foam cakes. Foam cakes are composed of flour, sugar, eggs, and flavoring. They contain no chemical leavening agents. Chiffon cake falls into this category, as does tres leches cake (which is essentially a chiffon cake soaked in three milks). One key way that chiffon cakes differ from angel food cakes is that chiffon has butter in the batter. See my post on angel food cake vs. chiffon cake for more on this subject.
While it’s not the typical preparation, some choose to frost angel food cakes just as they would a more typical cake. Don’t try to use this as a stacked layer cake, though, as it won’t support the weight of layers on top of it.
- Chocolate Whiskey Cake
- Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes
- Decadent Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes
- German Chocolate Cupcakes
Chocolate Angel Food Cake
- 1 3/4 cups superfine sugar divided
- 2/3 cup cake flour not self-rising
- 2/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 12 large egg whites room temperature
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- chocolate whipped cream to taste, I recommend a half recipe
- berries to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine one cup of the sugar with the cake flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg whites, water, vanilla extract, and cream of tartar until frothy.
- While whisking, slowly mix in the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar.
- Keep whisking until the mixture looks like a fluffy white cloud (medium peaks).
- Dust the top of the foam with a little bit of the flour mixture and, using a spatula, gently fold it in.
- Continue adding flour and gently folding it in until all of the flour mixture is incorporated.
- Fill an ungreased angel food cake pan with the batter.
- Bake for 45 minutes.
- Invert pan onto its feet (if your pan has them) or onto a bottle. Cool for 2 hours.
- Use an offset spatula to carefully separate the cake from the sides of the pan. Then, continue using the spatula to separate the cake from the bottom of the pan and center spindle.
- Top with chocolate whipped cream and fresh berries.
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