Lemon Poppy Seed Angel Food Cake

Lemon Poppy Seed Angel Food Cake

We had a cake unit in my second level cooking class – consistently a great time. To start things off I’d teach them about the different types or categories of cakes. Angel food cake has all sorts of rules so it was fun to teach. Interested in filling up your mind with some possibly useless albeit diverting knowledge? Read on.

Angel food cake is not only (naturally) fat free, it’s cholesterol free because it contains no yolks. Angel food cake rises using air and no other leavening agent (aka baking soda). The cake’s pan must not be greased, as the cake “climbs” up the sides of the pan as it rises. The cake must cool upside down. The egg whites won’t sufficiently rise when being beaten with mixer if there is any yolk or any fat in the bowl (and like, ANY little bit is enough to ruin things).

So you might read that and think, that sounds too hard when I could just buy the boxed mix. I know I go on sometimes about how easy a recipe is; ideally cooking/baking should be easy because you do it so often and don’t want to burn out. Easy has its place, but when making this cake I realized that a moderate amount of difficulty will lead to a greater amount of pride in the end result. This is a life lesson, no? If things come to you quite easily you figure anyone could do it, but putting in the hard work and gaining new knowledge makes what follows that much more enjoyable!

A tip – separate your eggs when they’re cold, and do it through your fingers. Crack the egg in half, dump the “no-yolk-half” into the small bowl and then pour the contents of the other half into your closed fingers. Let the white fall through and then drop the yolk into a second small¬†bowl. Dump the white into a large mixing bowl and continue on – this way if you DO get some yolk in with the white you can pitch that particular egg without ruining the whole lot.

This cake is NATURALLY less than 200 calories a slice so take the challenge, enjoy the process, and then show all your friends/neighbors/and family your cake while encouraging them to say really nice things about your baking skills.

Lemon Poppy Seed Angel Food Cake

Serves 12

1 c. plus 2 tbsp. cake flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1 3/4 c. sugar

12 large egg whites

1 1/2 tsp. cream of tarter

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tbsp. lemon zest

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. poppy seeds


2 c. powdered sugar

Juice of 1 large lemon

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. If not using a tube/angel food cake pan with a removable bottom, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. DO NOT GREASE.

2. In a food processor fitted with blade, add the total amount of sugar (1 3/4 c.). Process for 1 minute. Remove about half of the sugar and place in a small bowl.

3. Add the flour and salt to the processor. Process for 1 minute.

4. Meanwhile, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy – about 1 minute.

5. Add reserved sugar in a steady stream with mixer running. Continue to beat egg white mixture on medium high until soft peaks form.


6. Add vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice and beat until combined.


7. Sift flour/sugar mixture over egg white mixture in three parts, folding in gently each time with a rubber spatula. Add the poppy seeds with the second addition of flour/sugar.


8. Scrape mixture gently into prepared tube pan. Smooth the top of the batter. Bake for 45 minutes or until cracks look cracks look dry in the center and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean/few crumbs.


9. Immediately turn pan upside down on the neck of a wine bottle. Your pan might have feet – this works too. Cool for 3 hours.


10. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, loosen cake gently from the edge of the pan and turn out onto a serving platter.


11. To make glaze, whisk sugar, juice, and vanilla together to a pourable consistency (feel free to add water or powdered sugar to achieve desired consistency).


12. Pour glaze over center top of cake, letting drizzle down the sides and middle. Sprinkle with additional poppy seeds, if desired. To serve, cut in a sawing motion with a serrated or bread knife.


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