Angel food, sponge, and chiffon are the lighter-than-air, melt-in-your-mouth members of the foam cake family. They’re related because they depend on beaten egg whites for their lightness. But each kind is also a little different:
Angel food cakes have no added leavening (such as baking powder), shortening or egg yolks, and they have a high proportion of beaten egg whites to flour. No egg yolks and no shortening make angel food cakes a fabulous no-fat sweet. Don’t miss the wonderful Angel Food Cake.
Sponge cakes use both egg whites and yolks and sometimes a little leavening, but like angel food cakes, they don’t contain shortening. See Jelly Roll.
Chiffon cakes are a cross between foam and shortening cakes because they’re made with leavening, vegetable oil or shortening and egg yolks, as well as beaten whites. See Lemon Chiffon Cake.
Pans and Pan Preparation
Don’t grease and flour the pans unless the recipe calls for it. When baking, the batter must be able to cling to and climb up the side and tube of the pan.
If you’re using an angel food cake pan, also called a tube pan, move the oven rack to the lowest position so the cake will bake completely without getting too brown on top.
Mixing Foam Cakes
Start with a clean, dry bowl and beaters so the egg whites will beat properly. Even a speck of grease will keep them from whipping up. Beat the egg whites until they form stiff, straight peaks. Not beating the whites enough or not folding them completely into the batter can cause coarse, low-volume cakes. Beating or folding too much will break down the egg white foam, and you’ll end up with a compact cake.
Always fold the batter or the sugar-flour mixture into the beaten egg whites rather than stirring it in. To fold, cut down through the mixture with your spatula, then slide the spatula across the bottom and up the side of the bowl. Rotate the bowl a quarter turn and continue folding just until no white streaks remain.
Baking Foam Cakes
To test if a foam cake baked in rectangular, round or jelly roll pan is done, poke a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean, the cake is done.
To test if an angel food cake is done, touch it. If the cracks feel dry and the top springs back when you touch it lightly with your fingertip, the cake is done. If the cake pulls away from the side of the pan or falls out of the pan when turned upside down to cool, it wasn’t baked long enough.
After baking, immediately invert a foam cake baked in an angel food cake pan onto a heatproof funnel or bottle and let it hang upside down until it is completely cool.
To remove a foam cake from an angel food cake pan after it is completely cool, slide a stiff knife or metal spatula firmly between the cake and the pan. Move it up and down along the side to loosen the cake, being careful not to damage it. Turn the pan upside down, tap one side against the counter, and the cake will slip out.
To keep a foam cake fresh overnight, leave it in the baking pan and cover it loosely with plastic wrap. When you’re ready to serve it, remove it from the pan and frost if desired.
Foam Cake Cures
Great Foam Cakes Are:
High, golden brown with rounded top and cracks in surface
Soft, moist and delicate
Angel Food--feathery and fine-textured
Chiffon--springy and medium-textured
Sponge--springy and fine-textured
Problem: Probably Cause:
Low and compact - underbeaten or extremely overbeaten egg whites (use medium speeds on powerful stand mixers)
- overfolded batter
- incorrect cooling (not cooled upside down)
Coarse - underfolded batter
Tough - underbeaten egg whites
- overfolded batter
From "Betty Crocker's Complete Cookbook, Everything You Need to Know to Cook Today, 9th Edition." Text Copyright 2000 General Mills, Inc. Used with permission of the publisher, Wiley Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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