If you're looking for the lightest and fluffiest cupcakes ever, these angel food cupcakes are it! They're soft, tender, and have all the flavors of angel food cake, but in a small portion! If you have leftover egg whites and are looking for what to make, look no further!
Angel Food Cake Cupcakes
My love for angel food stems from my childhood. Angel food tube cakes from the grocery store seemed to always be around, especially at my Grandma's house. They came in a black plastic tube pan with a clear lid, and I could smell them as soon as I walked into the grocery store with my Mom.
There is just something about the crisp sugar crust on the outside of angel food cake that is reminiscent of cotton candy, and what kid doesn't love cotton candy? Speaking of cotton, when you bite into angel food cake, it's like a soft, cotton-y sweet cake with the airy texture of a cloud. If it sounds like I'm describing my dream dessert, it's because I am. Hold the chocolate, I want an angel food cupcakes on my birthday, every year from now on.
The major benefit of turning angel food cake into cupcakes is that you get a better crust to cake ratio. In my opinion, the outer crust is the best part, with its crisp, sweet bite. But do no worry: the inside of these angel food cupcakes is still soft and airy, as it should be. Biting through a delicate crackle-like sugar crust into a soft-as-a-cloud cake should be something everyone experiences at least once in life.
To be honest, I make these plain without frosting quite often, especially when I have leftover egg whites and I'm looking through my ways to use egg whites list. The whipped cream frosting with fresh berries is just a way to dress them up for company. They're super pretty and festive for anything from a Spring party to a holiday gathering when they're decorated. But they're so good, that they hardly need to be decorated!
Does this recipe really not having any baking soda or baking powder?
After a quick scan of the ingredient list below, you might be wondering if I forgot something. This recipe lacks any kind of powdered leavener, like baking soda or baking powder. For angel food cake, the eggs act as the lifting agent, which is why we spend so much time beating air into them. And that it also why we are so careful when folding in the dry ingredients to prevent deflating that air. Just trust that the egg white structure, when bolstered with cream or tartar, will hold the cake together.
- All-Purpose Flour. Regular flour, not unbleached flour, not self-rising flour, and definitely not cake flour. We need regular, all-purpose flour. While a lot of angel food recipes call for cake flour, we're simply adding cornstarch to regular flour instead.
- Cornstarch. We're adding a small amount (1.5 teaspoons) of cornstarch to all-purpose flour to mimic cake flour. Cornstarch ensures the texture of the cake will be crumbly and tender, not dense.
- Egg Whites. Three egg whites with zero traces of egg yolk, please.
- Cream of Tartar. We're using cream of tartar to help stabilize the egg whites that we're whipping for this recipe. It also helps the cupcakes rise in the oven and become fluffy.
- Granulated Sugar.
- Vanilla Extract.
- Whipping Cream. Double cream or heavy whipping cream for making the frosting on the cupcakes.
- Powdered Sugar. Just for the whipped cream frosting, not the actual cupcakes.
- Fresh Berries. During the Spring, these angel food cupcakes are great with fresh berries, but I decorate them with pomegranate arils and mandarin segments in the winter.
How to make angel food cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit, and place 6 cupcake liners in a muffin pan. Gather all ingredients: flour, cornstarch, egg whites, cream of tartar, sugar, and vanilla. Save the whipping cream, powdered sugar, and berries for decorating later.
- In a medium bowl, place a sifter or a fine-mesh strainer on top. Add the flour, salt and cornstarch into the sifter, and sift it into the bowl. Repeat this process, using another bowl, for a total of three times. Sifting the dry ingredients three times makes the lightest, fluffiest cupcakes. Then, set this mixture aside.
- Now, place the 3 egg whites in a separate (very clean) bowl. Using an electric mixer, whip until foamy. Then, add the cream of tartar and whip until soft peaks form. It will take about 2 minutes on medium-high speed.
- To test for soft peaks, lift the beaters out of the bowl, and see how the mixture gently droops over but doesn't quite hold the shape. If it holds the shape, it's a stiff peak. If it folds over on itself, it's a soft peaks. Soft peaks are the goal for now. Then, begin adding the sugar, one tablespoon at a time while beating.
- Once the egg white mixture is glossy and bright white (see photo), add the vanilla extract and beat just to combine.
- Finally, add the dry mixture that we sifted three times. Remember that? Also, put away the beaters for now--we just need a spatula.
- Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites very gently. Proper folding technique is around the edge of the bowl and then down through the middle. This technique fully incorporates ingredients while also preventing the deflation of the egg whites. Divide the mixture between the six cupcake liners. It will fill the liners to the top.
- Bake for 17-19 minutes, or until the top of the angel food cupcakes start to turn golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Let the cupcakes cool completely at room temperature in the pan. Then, combine all the frosting ingredients (heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract) in a large bowl.
- Beat until the whipped cream is light and fluffy, and then either scrape it into a piping bag to decorate the cupcakes, or just use a spoon to spread it on top of the cupcakes. Top with fresh berries, and serve.
How to store angel food?
The best way to store angel food cupcakes is tightly wrapped at room temperature. If you need to store any longer than that, freeze them, do not refrigerate.
Can you freeze angel food cupcakes?
Yes, tightly wrap them and place them in the freezer. The hardest thing about freezing angel food cupcakes is making sure they don't get squished in the freezer! To defrost, move them to the counter (room temperature) for a few hours before serving.
How to keep angel food cupcakes from falling down?
Angel food cake sponge climbs up the sides of any pan and sticks to it. In this case, it climbs the sides of the cupcake liner. When I'm making a full size angel food cake in a loaf pan, I tilt it upside down as it cools to keep it from falling. But for cupcakes, it's not necessary. They bake up flat, perfect for holding whipped cream frosting and berries, however be sure to cook them all the way through to eliminate any risk of them falling.
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 3 large egg whites
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the frosting:
- ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- Fresh berries, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350, and place 6 paper liners in a cupcake pan. Gather cupcake ingredients, and set aside frosting ingredients.
- In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch and salt. Sift it back into another bowl, and repeat one more time for a total of 3 siftings. Set this mixture aside.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on high until foamy (about 30 seconds). Once foamy, add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form (about 2 minutes). Soft peaks fall over on themselves when you lift the beaters out.
- Next, slowly stream the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, into the egg whites while beating. When done, the mixture will be bright white and glossy.
- Finally, add the vanilla extract and beat to combine.
- Add the flour mixture to the egg white and sugar mixture, and fold together using a rubber spatula. Proper folding technique is down the middle and sweep the sides of the bowl. Don't deflate the batter by stirring too vigorously!
- Divide the batter amount the cupcake liners. It will come to the top of each liner. Bake for 17-19 minutes, until the tops of the cupcakes are starting to lightly brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Let the cupcakes cool completely in the pan before moving to a wire rack.
- Combine the cold whipping cream and powdered sugar, and beat until fluffy. Use a piping bag or butter knife to spread it on the cupcakes. Garnish with fresh berries and serve.
All-Purpose Flour: Regular all-purpose flour is the best for this recipe. Do not use cake flour or unbleached.
Cornstarch: Do not omit this ingredient.
Cream of Tartar: This helps stabilize the egg whites, and helps the cupcakes rise in the oven to become fluffy. Do not leave it out.
Whipping Cream: Sometimes called double cream or heavy whipping cream.
Fresh Berries: Use seasonal fruit for these cupcakes: fresh berries in the spring and pomegranate arils and mandarin ornages in the winter.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 202Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 78mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 1gSugar: 17gProtein: 3g