Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake

“Maybe once, we could just have a vanilla cake”.
Sigh, over the years, Hungry Hubby has been my crash test dummy for many a culinary crusade. The vast majority have made it if not into “yummy” category, at least into the “wouldn’t mind having that again” bracket. Very few things has he refused to eat and ordered himself a pizza instead and those were definitely because it was one “weird” flavour too far for my comparatively conservative Hubby as opposed to being frankly uneatable in itself.

Hubs grew up in a “eat to live” household. He married into a “food is life” one where the Head Chef (& Bottle Washer!) just can’t help giving things a go, shamelessly fiddling and making things her own, actively hunting down new ways of cooking, locating recherché ingredients to make up for a childhood of never being allowed to experiment in the kitchen. In return for his eternal understanding of my need to be an intrepid gastronomic explorer, I put my pomegranate molasses down and shelved my dukka for another day and made him a vanilla cake. A Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake to be exact.

angel cake

Of course, I couldn’t make just any plain old vanilla sponge, as one might find in the ever-present Victoria sponge cake, noooooo sirree! Instead, a quick flick through my Olive magazine (love this mag – it is exactly what I want from a foodie mag) and found the recipe which follows for vanilla bean angel food cake. Being English, angel food cake is, *was*, a total mystery to me – it really doesn’t exist in Ye Olde Angleterre. I had the cake tin by virtue of Hungry Hubby getting me one for our first wedding anniversary (as we all know the first anniversary is tin ;) !) but it stayed in the cupboard a fair old while before I finally put it to good use.


Angel food cakes, it occurs to me, are essentially a meringue mixture with flour folded in. No fat is added. All your calories come in the carbon-hydrogen-oxygen molecular structure we all know and love as sugar. Ok, there’s a wee bit of protein in the flour and lest we forget all these beautiful egg whites. Speaking of which – may I just tout the virtues of “Two Chicks Egg Whites”. What a fantastic product! They whisk up like a dream and really aren’t expensive to buy. I can honestly say, I’ve never had a glossier, thicker, more stiffly whisked and quickly thank you very much meringue in my life. I will be buying again!


Once you have a white patent leather-like billowing foam in your mixer bowl, sift over flour, fold it in then add some vanilla. As I had preserved many vanilla beans whole, unslit in a bottle of vodka last year, I simply snipped off one end and squeezed in the innermost of the bean. The vodka seeps in through the pod and forms a homemade vanilla paste, every bit as good as the expensive Nielssen Massey stuff. Very satisfying, very vanillary.


Upon cooking, with an angel food cake, one must immediately invert the tin and make use of those annoying feet which prevent stacking in one’s bakeware cupboard ;). I can totally imagine the little green men from Toy Story lining up and jiggling their way up the central cone into this alien craft style cake tin! Tell me I’m not alone on that one!


For those who have seen the magazine article from which this recipe came may be thinking my cake looks a little (ok a lot) less tall than that pictured by Olive. My response to that is that it was, of course, a planned intention, nothing whatsoever to do with me not noticing the measurements of my tin before I mixed the batter up only to then find out my tin wasn’t as big as theirs. Oopsie…


Imagine a celestial meringue which is marshmallowy throughout, light as a feather but also toothsome to bite. Very sweet and astoundingly moist for the lack of added fat. One which keeps for a good five days covered with cling and popped in an airtight box. Imagine that nursery sweet vanilla scent and melt of the sugar on your lips then you too will know how this dreamy cloud of a cake must be served with thick, fridge cold double cream to cut the blood sugar catapult short in its tracks and the fresh berry rasp of sour, juicy raspberries. Lemon curd, mascarpone and blueberries would deliver a different but equally well-balanced finish to the dish. My Strawberry, Lime and Chambord Coulis would be exceptional served with this.

Get the tin here –> angel food pan

Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake
Servings: 10
: 161 kcal
Author: Just Jo
  • 8 medium egg whites
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 250 g icing sugar
  • Seeds from a vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 140 g plain flour well sifted
  • 18 cm angel food cake pan a cm or two either way won't matter
  1. Preheat oven to 140˚C.
  2. Set your shelf low enough to accommodate the tall angel food pan before you start.
  3. Whisk the egg whites, cream of tartar and sea salt until they form stiff peaks.
  4. Add the icing sugar a big spoon at a time.
  5. Fold the flour in three batches, adding your vanilla with the last batch.
  6. Gently spoon into your completely grease free tin and level the top - don't be too rough and knock out all the lovely air you've lovingly incorporated.
  7. Bake for 40 mins until light golden brown and it bounces back if pressed (NOTE angel cakes STICK to the insides of the pan - this is supposed to happen, it prevents them from deflating on cooling - so the cake won't come away from the tin when cooked as an "ordinary" sponge type cake would). Immediately insert and allow to cool upside down.
  8. To remove from the tin, run a knife or thin spatula/palette knife around the sides of the cake the remove the cake, still attached to the base of the tin.
  9. Next run the knife under what will become the top of the cake when it is served to release from the removable base and invert onto a serving plate.
  10. Top with glacé icing, serve with cream, lemon curd, mascarpone - let your taste buds guide you as to what you'd like your cake to be topped with. Something creamy and something sour is the way you want to go.
Nutrition Facts
Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 161
% Daily Value*
Sodium 40mg 2%
Potassium 103mg 3%
Total Carbohydrates 35g 12%
Sugars 24g
Protein 4g 8%
Calcium 0.4%
Iron 3.7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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By | 2018-02-19T20:22:27+00:00 November 15th, 2012|Categories: Cake, Home Baking, Weekend Baking|Tags: , , , , , |19 Comments


  1. emmathebakewelltart 15/11/2012 at 16:01 - Reply

    Once again you’ve captured my need to bake! I love how light the cake seems I’m sure Hungery Hubby will devour this baby in no time :-)
    Another great blog post by my fave blogger :-)

    • Jo Blogs 15/11/2012 at 16:09 - Reply

      He was very happy with this one Em. Bless. I think I had pushed him too far, he just had to have something vanilla! Lol… :D

  2. Seonaid 15/11/2012 at 16:13 - Reply

    Looks delicious, would love to taste it!

    • Jo Blogs 15/11/2012 at 16:16 - Reply

      If you can whisk, you can make this cake Seonaid!

  3. TheSpicySaffron 15/11/2012 at 16:42 - Reply

    lovely cake and adorable pictures, especially the last one with raspberries :)

    • Jo Blogs 15/11/2012 at 16:46 - Reply

      Thanks Spicy – I was pleased with these :)

  4. Jayne Hawkins 15/11/2012 at 17:15 - Reply

    Lovely looking cake there Jo, and fab write-up too!

  5. frugalfeeding 15/11/2012 at 21:06 - Reply

    Great looking cake, Jo! Where have you been?! I’ve been worried!

    • Jo Blogs 15/11/2012 at 21:13 - Reply

      Well I’m on Facebook everyday so there’s the first place to look when I go MIA ;). It’s just work – I’ve been on a gruelling rota of nights, long days and weekends that has done its very best to eat my foodie soul. But I have a bit of time off now – with lots of ideas for blogs in the run upto Christmas to get writing :)

  6. Your lucky, lucky man.. I’d stand in as a guinea pig should he ever tire.. but then you’d have to mail your baking. I love your fluffy white cake.. it would be heaven to eat just on it’s own:) xx

  7. Thanh @ eat, little bird 16/11/2012 at 16:13 - Reply

    I love Angel food cakes, though I don’t make them too often because they are so huge and require a party to finish them! After reading your post, I ought to wipe the dust off my Angel food cake tin and use it pronto!

    I didn’t quite understand why your cake was not so tall … did you halve the measurements for the cake or was your tin bigger than what was required for the original Olive recipe?

    • Jo Blogs 16/11/2012 at 16:20 - Reply

      I made half the recipe as it is written on my PDF Thanh – only after I set my KA to whisk did I fetch the tin and realise it was slightly larger than Olive’s recipe as well! As it had been nearly a year since last using it, it had “shrunk” in my memory lol…

  8. Ellen @ Indigo Scones 17/11/2012 at 03:31 - Reply

    Hahaha, vanillary is my new favorite word! I wish I could hear you say it in your lovely accent! Sweet of you to make a cake for the hubby, it’s beautiful! I love angel food :)

    • Jo Blogs 17/11/2012 at 08:03 - Reply

      Aw if we ever met Ellen we’d both be chatting nonstop just to hear one another’s accents I think! Now I know I *can* make angle food cake I must try more recipes – I’ve a friend who said she’ll give me her custard angel food recipe if I’m very, very good ;)

  9. NYinRome 17/11/2012 at 20:38 - Reply

    Wonderful post Jo. Now I want that tin! Thanks for the link.

    • Jo Blogs 17/11/2012 at 22:28 - Reply

      Thanks Terri :)
      What would we do if we didn’t have another cake tin or other kitchen related find to lust over? ;)

  10. e / dig in hobart 20/11/2012 at 00:34 - Reply

    i was only thinking last night, i need to make a plain cake to give my tastebuds a rest from all the rich things i have been baking lately. i love a really good plain cake – you can always dress it up of course, with fruit or jam or what-not – and ihave not made one in ages. i make one with greek yoghurt – so moist.
    your vanilla angel food cake still sounds like lots of fun to make for you, even if it did meet your hubby’s request for plainness.

    • Jo Blogs 20/11/2012 at 07:59 - Reply

      Precisely – you’ve got it all exactly right! I have a Greek yoggie cake too, I use it to sugarpaste celebration cakes mostly :D

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