Make a light and airy angel food cake from scratch with these step-by-step directions.
Separate eggs immediately after taking them out of the refrigerator (cold eggs separate more easily). Separate the egg whites from the yolks and allow them to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes -- this will allow the egg whites to reach their full volume when beat. (Refrigerate the yolks for another use.) Carefully separate each egg white into a small bowl, such as a custard cup. If any yolk gets into the egg white during separation, refrigerate that white for another use -- even the tiniest bit of yolk can inhibit the beating quality of the whites. Transfer each egg white to an extra-large glass bowl . The bowl should be perfectly clean and wide enough to keep the beaters from being buried in the egg whites as they fluff. Do not use a plastic bowl, which may have an oily residue that can minimize the volume of beaten egg whites.
For food safety reasons, do not let the whites stand at room temperature for longer than 30 minutes.
Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla on medium to high speed until soft peaks (tips of the egg whites will curl when beaters are lifted). form. The cream of tartar stabilizes the egg whites and produces a whiter cake.
Gradually add the granulated sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, to allow the sugar to dissolve completely in the egg white mixture. Beat at medium to high speed until stiff peaks (tips of the egg whites stand straight up) form.
Do not overbeat or underbeat egg whites -- they should be stiff but not dry or your cake may fall.
Fold the sifted flour mixture, one-fourth at a time, into the egg whites. To fold:
Do not overmix, which can decrease the volume of the batter and result in a tough cake.
For a fine, even cake texture, eliminate large air bubbles by gently cutting through batter (in the pan) with a thin metal spatula.
Bake angel food cake in a preheated oven according to recipe directions. The cake is done when it turns a golden color and springs back when lightly touched. Cool angel food cake upside down (in the pan) to set.
-I'm Sue with the Better Homes and Gardens test kitchen. One of the most important cooking techniques you can master is properly beating egg whites and with our secret to success, you'll be able to make light, airy cakes, meringues and souffles like a pro. Let me show you how it's done. The first step is to separate the whites from the yolks. In the test kitchen, we always use an egg separator, it's an inexpensive tool that makes the job quick, clean and minimizes the spread of any bacteria from the outside of the shell. We also use what we call the 3 bowl method. You'll need 3 glass or stainless steel bowls, plastic is porous and can have an oily residue on the surface which would prevent the whites from beating properly. Separate one white into a small bowl, drop the yolk into another bowl then transfer the white to a larger bowl. This process helps prevent any egg yolk from getting in to the whites which would also prevent them from beating properly. Now let the whites come to room temperature. Warmer whites will beat better than cold ones. It takes about 30 minutes so do this before getting started on any other prep for your recipe, if you're in a hurry set the bowl of whites in a larger bowl that's about a half full of warm water. They'll be warm in about 10 minutes. Beat the whites with an electric mixer at medium speed until they start to thicken and turn white then increase the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the consistency indicated in the recipe. Stop the mixer periodically to check your progress. Soft peak stage is when the whites hold their shape as the beaters are lifted out but the tips crawl under. Stiff peaks are when the whites are shiny and the tips stand straight up, just be careful not to over beat, you'll know you've gone too far if they look dry, curdled and bumpy. If you get to this stage, you'll have to start over. They'll be impossible to fold in the batter and sauces and won't be able to give recipes the left they should. Mastering the secrets to success for properly beaten egg white is easier than ever with Better Homes and Gardens.