Chocolate Angel Food Cake

  • Serves: Makes one 10-inch tube pan with removable bottom
  • Baking Temp (degrees F): 325
  • Views: 10999
  • Comments: 0

Variations: Cocoa-Orange Angel Food Cake; Mexican Chocolate Angel Food Cake

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Zaxmom, Premium Member, wrote: "I baked what I thought would be a beautiful chocolate angel food cake (recipe from, only to be disappointed when I took the cake out of the oven. I followed all recipe instructions to the letter.... My guess is I took the cake out too soon, but I'm not sure that was the problem."
SARAH SAYS: I looked over her recipe and determined there were several problems with it. So, I rewrote it, which I share here.

After zaxmom tried my new recipe, below, she exclaimed: "I used your reworked recipe for (the) Chocolate Angel Food Cake II from WOW!! It rose beautifully, clung to the pan, and tastes yummy. It really looks like an angel food cake - so high and light. I dusted it with confectioner's sugar. Next time, I'll add a bit more grated chocolate as I like it more chocolaty. Very delicious, a real winner. I'll be making this one often."

zaxmom, Premium Member, Says: "Sarah's Mexican Chocolate variation is great! I've made it several times, and as long as I follow her instructions, my cake does not fall out of the pan. I can't tell you how many of these disasters I've had, but I've learned how long to beat my whites and what they should look like at the stiff and glossy stage - and I've gotten better at folding the flour into the whites. I, too, tried the balloon whisk and slotted spoon for folding and they did not work. A good size rubber spatula does the trick when folding. It takes practice to get a good result with angel cakes, but you'll get there - especially with Sarah's input. She's the BEST!!"


When you fold the flour and beaten egg whites together, they must be thoroughly blended together; you need to make sure all of the air bubbles are encased in flour, otherwise the cake won't rise properly. The flour's proteins and starches ill set around the air bubbles when the cake bakes in the oven, allowing it to puff properly. In essence, the folding action breaks up the air bubbles into smaller ones and encases each one in batter, like putting mortar in between small tiles to hold them in place. If the "mortar" isn't evenly distributed between the "tiles" and you have some large and small tiles, you'll get an uneven looking "floor" or cake crumb. Some "tiles" or air bubbles will be "loose" or escape from the cake batter and cause large holes in the cake. You'll see a pattern of "tiles" or egg whites grouped together separately from a layer or "mortar" or batter grouped together. Your "floor" or cake will be uneven and won't rise as high in the oven. With foam cakes, it's normal to see some uneven air holes in the cake's crumb (inside), but not large pockets of air holes, egg whites and/or batter. That means that the folding action was not done enough or was done too much where you managed to pop a lot of air bubbles. Folding takes a lot of practice to get right.

1 1/2 cups superfine sugar or regular, divided
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising)
1/4 cup Natural cocoa powder, sifted (After measuring, sift) - you can use Dutch-process, instead, but natural gives the deepest flavor

1 3/4 cups egg whites (12 to 14 "large" eggs), at room temperature (room temp is not really necessary - they will whip when cold, but it will take a little bit longer to whip to their fullest)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely grated

NOTE: Cake bakes in an UNGREASED 10- x 4-inch angel food cake pan (tube pan), with a removable bottom. Do NOT use a nonstick pan.

Make sure your mixing bowl, beaters, whisk and all utensils are clean and free of grease, oil or fat of any kind. Even a tiny drop of the yolk mixed in with the whites will keep the whites from accepting air. To make sure, before starting, wipe the clean implements with lemon juice or white wine vinegar, rinse both in warm water, and then dry. Don't use plastic containers because they tend to absorb and retain fat even if washed.

The real issue with egg whites is their freshness, not temperature - newer fresh eggs have thicker whites. They reach more volume and have greater stability when beaten than older eggs, although they require more beating. Separate eggs while they are cold in a clean, stand-mixer mixing bowl. Set aside.

1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F.

3. Combine 3/4 cup sugar, flour, cocoa powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Then, sift onto a sheet of wax paper. Sift the mixture two more times and set aside. This ensures the mixture is completely free of lumps and is as aerated as you can make it.

4. With a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites on low until foamy. As air is beaten into the egg whites, they will start to lighten in color. This beginning step is one of the most overlooked and important steps. A slower mixer speed will not deflate the early stages of the foam; if you do, it will never whip to its fullest!

Keep mixing the egg whites on low speed. The egg white foam will increase in volume and become white and have large bubbles. With the mixer running, immediately add the pinch of salt and the cream of tartar at the side of the bowl. The bubbles in the egg white foam will become smaller and more even in size. When it reaches this stage, increase the mixer speed to medium-high.

Then, add the sugar (3/4 cup) slowly in a steady stream at the side of the bowl. After the sugar has been added, increase the mixer speed to high. Beat until the egg whites are white, fluffy, very stiff and still very glossy. Add the vanilla in the final moments of whipping.

For this recipe, the whites should be stiffer than most. They will form lumps as the mixer beats. STOP beating when they start to form lumps around the beater.

NOTE: If egg whites are beaten to dry and dull, they are overbeaten -- Watch carefully, because egg whites can go from stiff to dry and overbeaten in as little as 30 seconds. It they are beaten too stiff, they lose their gloss and look curdled. Unfortunately, there is no more stretch left for them to rise when baked -- some or will pop during the whipping stage and will collapse. To fix, try whisking in another egg white with a wire whisk -- DO NOT use the electric mixer. If you can't fix them, unfortunately, you have to start over again with fresh egg whites...

5. Sprinkle one-quarter of the flour mixture over the whites, and with a LARGE rubber spatula, fold into the whites. Repeat this process with the remaining flour mixture, folding in only one-quarter at a time. The finished batter should be firm, but fluffy and soft. It will lose its high shine and have a more matte finish because of the flour.

Sprinkle on the finely grated chocolate after the flour and egg whites are folded, and then fold in just until evenly distributed.

7. Gently scoop the batter, with a large rubber spatula, into the tube pan. Run a thin knife through the cake batter once or twice. This prevents air pockets from forming in the body of the cake. Immediately place the cake into a well-preheated oven and shut the door.

8. Bake for around 30 to 40 minutes The cake will rise and sometimes even rise above the edge of the pan. It is done when cake is nicely browned and springy to the touch, and the top is golden brown. Also, Angel food cakes will not shrink from the sides of the pan as other cakes do when baked, and the cracks in its crust should be dry.

9. Immediately remove the cake and invert onto a funnel (not plastic!) or bottle. (If the cake tilts a little, that's fine.) Allow it to cool thoroughly, sometimes taking 2 or 3 hours or until there is no heat on the pan when touched. I also like to feel the inside of the tube to be sure it's cool on the interior as well.

NOTE: When done, proper cooling is just as important as baking. The cake is inverted in its pan to cool which prevents its structure from shrinking or falling, giving it the open texture that's characteristic of these cakes. If placed to cool on a rack, it would deflate much of that hard-earned volume.

10. To remove the cake from the pan, slip a flexible metal spatula carefully down the side of the pan. Slowly trace around the perimeter to release the cake. When the sides are free, push up on the removable bottom to remove the cake from the sides. Tilt the cake and gently tap the bottom of the pan against the counter to loosen the cake, rotating as you do so, until the cake appears free. Cover the cake with a rack or a plate, and at the same time that you invert the cake onto the work surface, tap it firmly on the surface. Lift the pan from the cake.

To serve, slice with a long, serrated knife and make small, quick sawing motions. An Angel Food Cake is perfect by itself, dusted with sifted confectioner's sugar or sifted together with a teaspoon of cocoa powder or embellished for a spectacular dessert. But, it is also the perfect base for fresh fruit, the cake will absorb any liquid and you will be able to enjoy it down to the last bite!

Angel Food Cakes don't store well because they become sticky from the high amounts of sugar and egg whites. However, store your cake at room temperature for a couple of days at most, covered in plastic wrap. In humid weather the cake will become especially sticky. You can freeze Angel Food Cakes, but their texture and flavor will suffer. Upon thawing, the cake will be more dense and not as flavorful.

Add in 1 tablespoon orange peel (do not use orange flavored candy oil; it will deflate the egg whites)
1 teaspoon orange extract

To make mine spicier, add the following spices into the flour, cocoa powder and salt, before sifting:

1-1/4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg or 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves

Then, add into the sifted flour mixture:
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Fill your Angel Food Cake: Split the cooled cake into multiple horizontal layers. Fill the layers with my EASY CREAM FILLING RECIPE: Make 1-ounce Jell-O Vanilla Instant Pudding or any flavor. Make the pie filling recipe. Add in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon orange peel or 1/8 teaspoon orange peel. Cover with plastic and press it to the surface of the pie filling and chill until ready to use. Remember to keep the cake chilled at all times because the filling is perishable.

Question: I baked my Angel Food Cake, it rose and it just collapsed on itself. I baked it again and it did the same thing. What happened?
SARAH SAYS: I once made an Angel Food Cake in a dark, nonstick pan and the same thing happened to me. The egg white foam needs to literally climb up and cling to the sides of the pan when it rises. A nonstick surface is just too slippery.

Question: I need help. I can never get my Angel Food Cake to rise as high as what my mother's. Why?
SARAH SAYS: Sometimes whipped egg whites are the sole source of leavening in a recipe, such as an Angel Food Cake, and are responsible for its structure. It likely has to do with the way in which the egg whites were beaten and/or folded into the flour mixture. Overbeaten egg whites produce a flatter cake. If you under- or over-fold egg whites, you can deflate them, taking away their leavening power. If your oven's temperature is off or it is not preheated properly when you place the cake in the oven, the cake won't rise before the flour and egg protein's set, causing it to be flatter.

Question: Does the type of bowl really matter when whipping egg whites?
SARAH SAYS: When whipping egg whites, use either a deep copper or stainless steel bowls with straight sides. The mixing bowl to my stand mixer is perfect whether whipping with a stand or hand-held mixer.

The composition of the bowl in which you beat egg whites can make a big difference. A copper bowl reacts chemically with egg whites to form fluffy, high-rise whites - it contains an ion which reacts with an egg white protein, specifically conalbumin, to form a more stable foam and helps the whites retain moisture. The same result can be obtained using stainless steel or glass bowls with the addition of cream of tartar. However, I don't use a glass bowl because I have found that when using it, its naturally slick surface doesn't give much traction for the egg whites to climb the bowl.

Avoid plastic or wooden bowls because of their naturally porous surface which attracts grease because of its porous surface; grease or fat deflates egg whites. Never use aluminum which reacts with the egg whites causing them to turn slightly gray. If beating by hand, the mixing bowl should be 9 to 10 inches in diameter and 5 to 6 inches deep,

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