saffron angel food cake, gluten free

Earlier this year, I had what the bakers like to call, "The great angel food cake disaster of 2012." Now we serve angel food cake regularly at the bakery, but I have to confess that I don't generally make it. But on this particular day, our kitchen manager Cynthia tasked me with making the angel food cake. Cautiously, I followed the recipe, sneaking in questions while I went. Once the egg whites were whipped to what I felt were medium peaks, I started to fold in the dry ingredients. I thought I was doing an okay job, but over my shoulder I heard "GAH! Stop! You are overfolding!" 

I stepped away and let her examine the cake batter. Frowning, she said "I think it might be okay." I proceeded to pour to batter into a greased angel food pan, and threw it in the oven. When it came out and rested for a bit, it fell. I swore then and there that I was officially retired from the angel food cake business.

Until this month's gluten-free ratio rally that is. Of course the team, led by Carleigh of Gluten-Free[k] chose my arch nemesis, angel food cake!

When I found out, I texted Cynthia in a panic. She went over the possible reasons why my angel food cake was a flop and came up with the following tips:

  • Do not overwhip your ingredients. Keep an eye on the mixer and stop it once you think your egg whites have reached medium peaks.
  • Do not overfold your ingredients. Generally it should take four folds between sifting the dry ingredients. Stop once all dries have been incorporated. 
  • Do not grease the pan! Your angel food cake will want to climb, and if you grease the sides it won't. Give it something to stick to by leaving it alone.
  • Do not open the oven door while baking. Doing so can cause your angel food cake to fall.

Determined, I tried again, this time adding an exotic flair with a bit of saffron.

The ratio I ended up with was comprised of liquids, dries, sugar, and egg whites: 1 : 2 : 3 : 6.  The resulting cake did not fall, and was satisfyingly light and fluffy. The saffron added a pale yellow hue to the cake and just a hint of the spice.

Victory! I've finally escaped the great angel food cake disaster of 2012!

saffron angel food cake, gluten free


  • 12 strands of saffron, ground or crushed
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 456 g egg whites (about 12 eggs)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cream of tartar
  • 288 g caster sugar, divided
  • 165 g gluten-free flour blend
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your flour blend includes it)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using a mortar and pestle grind saffron into a powder. Pour 1/3 cup warm water into the pedstle, then transfer to a mixing bowl of the stand mixer. Let steep for 30 minutes. Then add egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar. Using the wire whisk attachment, whisk until combined, about 2 minutes. Add half of the caster sugar while the mixer is running. Beat egg whites until they form medium peaks. Sift remaining dry ingredients onto egg whites just until they dust the top. Fold in and repeat until all dry ingredients have been incorporated. Pour into an ungreased angel food pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown. Serves 8-12 people.

Want more gluten-free angel food receipes? Check out the posts from other ratio rally bloggers!



Gorgeous cake! Well done!

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