The Right Way To Whip Egg Whites For Light And Fluffy Angel Food Cake

An angel food cake can be a wonder of a dessert if made properly. It's a light, airy option that pairs beautifully with fresh berries and whipped cream, making it perfect for many occasions. But this delight comes with certain culinary challenges — make it wrong and you end up with a dense cake resembling a brick.

Making a great angel food cake is more of a science than an art. That's because the recipe relies solely on the egg whites for its volume; there are no other leavening agents in it. So, if the egg whites aren't whipped properly, they will fall flat and so will your cake. Over-whipping leads the egg whites to collapse when you fold them into the batter. But you don't want to under-do it either, since the egg whites will provide the height and lift for the cake. The goal is to get the egg whites to the soft peak stage, which means taking special care when whipping.

Go for soft peaks for a light cake

Even before you start whipping your egg whites, there are things you can do to set yourself up for success. First make sure that no yolk has gotten into the whites, which can hamper the process. Allowing the whites to come to room temperature before you start is another way to improve your chances of soft peak success. Also make sure to use a clean metal or glass bowl; you want it to be free of oil or grease.

Now that you've set the perfect stage, it's time to get to work. If you're using a stand mixer, try to keep the speed to medium at the most. Keep an eye on the egg whites as they go from frothy to thick foam. You're watching for the next phase where they will form peaks that hold briefly and then slump over shortly after you take out your whisk. A bit of cream of tartar can be helpful in stabilizing egg whites, too, without adding any whipping time.