[Sca-cooks] History of Angel Food Cake

Johnna Holloway johnnae at mac.com
Thu Jun 30 09:03:50 PDT 2011

There is an association of angel food cakes being made by groups like  
Pennsylvania Dutch and Old Order Amish. It relates to raising hens and  
eggs at hand, large quantities of eggs. How to turn those eggs into  
products that
can be sold? The answer is to make noodles from the egg yolks and make  
angel food
cakes from the egg whites.
(I know that in 2011 you can still buy both noodles and cakes from  
various Amish stores in and around
the Amish communities in central Illinois.)

now for some more references

OED lists
angel-food n. (also angel's-food, angel-foodcake, angel's-foodcake)  
(orig. U.S.), angel-cake.

1881    F. E. Owens Cooks Book 161   *Angel's food. In other words,  
White Sponge Cake.
1920    S. Lewis Main Street vii. 88   They distributed‥stuffed  
olives, potato salad, and angel's-food cake.
1951    Good Housekeeping Ency.         335/1   Angel Cake (Angel Food  
Cake), an extremely light, feathery cake of the sponge type.

And I have that 1881 recipe from Mrs. Owens page 469
Mrs. Owens' new cook book and complete household manual

  By Frances Emugene Owens


1 and one quarter cups cups fine granulated sugar. Whites 10 eggs.

1 scant teaspoon cream tartar. 1 cup pastry flour. Put a pinch of salt  
into the unbeaten whites of eggs, beat until half done, then sift in  
the cream tartar and beat until very stiff, after which sift the sugar  
and beat in very gradualiy; add any flavor desired and lastly the  
flour which has been sifted 4 times; add it as gently as possible. Put  
it into a bright cake pan, not buttered, and bake in a moderate oven  
about 45 minutes. Try it with a straw. Let it cool off gradually by  
leaving the oven door open. Turn the pan upside down on the tube, if  
it has one; if not, set it up on something. When entirely cold take out.

The advice of a baker is to wet the cake pan in cold water for Angel  

The acid of cream of tartar helps to coagulate the whites of the eggs  
and hold the cake batter in suspension.

A fine cake maker says that for Angel Food the whites of eggs should  
be measured instead of counted, and the measurement should •exactly  
equal that of the flour. She says that is one reason why so many fail  
at times, as the eggs vary so much in size.

from Stephen Schmidt "Cakes" The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink  
in America. Ed. Andrew F. Smith. Copyright © Oxford University Press,  
Inc 2004, 2005. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America
Finally, there were the sponge cakes. .... White sponge cake, commonly  
called “angel cake,” became much lighter and moister and much more  
difficult to make than it had been in Lettice Bryan's day. Angel cake  
required precise beating of the egg whites and a dexterous hand in  
folding. To rise, the cake had to be baked in a specialized tube pan,  
which was never to be greased, and in order not to collapse after  
baking, the cake had to be hung upside down until cold, a procedure  
that invited a range of disasters, as period cookbooks attested. How  
Victorian American women developed the complicated techniques that  
angel cake requires remains mysterious. The new yellow sponge cakes of  
the stove era were neither as innovative nor as difficult as angel  
cake, but they were nonetheless extravagant cakes by the standards of  
the age. They required many eggs (in most recipes, a combination of  
whole eggs and egg yolks) and a great deal of beating, and they were  
never made with chemical leavening. Generally called “sunshine  
cake” or “moonshine cake,” these cakes, although fairly  
fashionable through the mid-twentieth century, were never as popular  
as angel cake.

I did find that by the 1890's that prizes were being offered at  
various county and agricultural fairs for angel food cakes.

Does this help?


On Jun 30, 2011, at 10:32 AM, Kathleen Gormanshaw wrote:

> This site http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/red-white-blue-angel-food-cake.aspx?&lookup=auto&V01=&V02=&V03=&V04=&V05=&V06=&V07=&V08=&V09=&V49&V50=&Taun_Per_Flag=True&utm_source=email&utm_medium=eletter&utm_content=20110630-fourth-of-july&utm_campaign=fine-cooking
> Comments that Angel Food cake is American, with no history in French  
> pastry.
> Can anyone confirm or deny?  Know anything more about the history of
> angel food cake?
> Just curious :-)
> Eyrny

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