How To Cool Angel Food Cake Properly for Best Texture

Angel food cake is a light and airy dessert that requires special treatment when cooling for optimal flavor and texture. Learn why cooling angel food cake upside down is crucial and how to do it properly without a traditional angel food cake pan.

Angel food cake is a sweet treat that lives up to its heavenly name. When properly made, it has a delicate, soft crumb and a sweet flavor. However, this cake is temperamental. To reach its full potential, an angel food cake must be cooled in a very specific manner.

Characteristics of Angel Food Cake

Angel food cake gets its signature lightness from stiffly beaten egg whites. Unlike other cakes, it contains no additional fats such as butter or oil. The lack of fat means there is nothing to tenderize the crumb. As a result, angel food cake has a uniquely soft and spongy texture.

Why Egg Whites Are Essential

Egg whites provide the structure and rise for angel food cakes. When beaten to stiff peaks, the egg proteins unfold and then bond together when heated in the oven. This forms a strong protein network that traps air pockets, giving volume to the cake.

Proper whipping and folding of the egg whites is imperative for an angel food cake to reach its full height and maintain stability. Deflating the egg whites too much during mixing can cause the cake to sink or develop a dense texture.

Angel Food Cake Batter Is Fragile When Warm

Freshly baked, an angel food cake is soft and tender, with a just-set crumb. The cake will seem moist with beads of condensation along the sides. At this stage, the airy egg foam structure remains quite fragile.

Any jostling or improper cooling can disrupt the protein network. This will cause the cake to collapse inward or take on a gummy texture. For best results, the cake must cool slowly and evenly to set the egg proteins.

Why Cool Angel Food Cake Upside Down

After baking, angel food cake is cooled upside down while suspended above the counter. This unconventional method is vital for two reasons:

1. Allows Steam to Escape

When hot, delicate cakes like this one will sweat moisture. Cooling upside down exposes more surface area, allowing steam to escape.

If cooled right-side up, steam will condense along the sides and bottom. This can make the exterior soggy and affect the cake’s rise.

2. Avoids Compression

In the inverted position, the cake’s full weight does not press down on the fragile egg foam structure. This prevents it from compressing and getting dense.

Right-side up, gravity will slowly pull the cake down, causing it to sink into itself. Cooling upside down minimizes this force of compression.

Providing Proper Ventilation While Cooling

In addition to being inverted, angel food cakes must be cooled with proper ventilation. This circulation of air helps moisture continue escaping without concentrating in any spots.

Insufficient airflow can lead to condensation or drying out just along the bottom or sides. Even cooling can help lock in moisture evenly throughout.

Why Use a Glass Bottle for Cooling?

Traditional angel food cake pans have built-in feet 1-2 inches tall. These legs elevate the pan off the counter and allow air to flow underneath the cake.

A common alternative is to cool the cake over an empty glass soda or wine bottle. The neck of the bottle performs the same function as the pan feet.

Other options like cans or boxes can work, but glass bottles are ideal. They have a smaller diameter than the cake, providing stability. The smooth glass surface also minimizes sticking.

How To Cool Angel Food Cake (Without A Glass Bottle)

Method 1: Use a Cooling Rack

While a bottle provides great ventilation, a cooling rack can also work for cooling angel food cakes. Here is how to do it:

Find the Right Cooling Rack

The rack must be large enough to fit the cake’s diameter. There should be at least 1⁄4 inch clearance underneath the rack so air can circulate freely.

A wire rack with thick bars spaced far apart is ideal. Avoid using racks with crossbars that block ventilation.

Elevate the Rack

To allow airflow underneath the inverted cake, the rack must be lifted up off the counter. Place glasses, mugs, or small boxes under the rack’s legs.

Aim for 1-2 inches of clearance – the more room for ventilation, the better. Make sure your setup is stable.

Cool the Cake Upside Down

Once baked, immediately invert the angel food cake onto the elevated rack. Center the rack underneath as much as possible.

The rack will support the cake uniformly while allowing air to pass through. Let the cake cool completely, about 1-2 hours.

Avoid Disturbing While Cooling

Resist any urge to shake, rotate, or otherwise disturb the cake as it cools. The cooling rack should remain stationary.

Any unnecessary movement can cause the cake to shift or settle unevenly. This may disrupt the delicate interior structure.

Method 2: Improvise With Kitchen Items

If you don’t have a rack, there are other ways to DIY your own cooling method:

Use Bowls, Cups, or Cans

Invert cups, bowls, soup cans – anything that won’t buckle under the cake’s weight. Use at least two items, but three evenly spaced items works better.

The goal is to make a stable platform that allows airflow from underneath. Items should be approximately the same height.

Try Wooden Spoons or Chopsticks

Wooden spoons, chopsticks, skewers, or even pencils can help lift a cooling rack. Place two under the rack’s front and back edges.

For better stability, use three and space them evenly underneath the rack. Just make sure they don’t protrude where they could poke the cake.

Use Boxes or Books

Sturdy boxes, hardcover books, reams of paper, or blocks of wood can act as mini cake pedestals.

Wrap items in foil first if needed to prevent sticking. Arrange into a tower that won’t tip over and elevate the cake 3-4 inches.

Improvise With Other Kitchen Tools

Potholders rolled into coils, upside down loaf pans, or thick rubber bands stretched between chairs work in a pinch.

Even a plastic laundry basket turned over and balanced on cans could support the corner of a wire rack for cooling the cake. Get creative!


Can I Cool Angel Food Cake in the Fridge?

It is best to let your angel food cake cool completely at room temperature right-side up. The refrigerator provides limited airflow, so condensation may make the exterior soggy.

Rapid cooling in the fridge can also cause irregular shrinking. This leads to tears in the delicate crumb or a sunken center.

How Do I Get Angel Food Cake Out of the Pan?

Angel food cakes are designed not to come out of their straight-sided tube pans easily. Chilling for several hours helps separate the cake from the pan.

To remove the cake, first run a thin, flexible knife around the sides. Then invert onto a plate and shake the pan gently to release. Use caution to avoid breaking the cake.


Cooling an angel food cake properly requires patience and a few tricks. But the effort pays off in a cake with optimal rise, moisture, and feather-light texture from edge to edge.

Don’t be afraid to improvise cooling methods. Focus on keeping the cake inverted, providing ventilation, and avoiding movement or jostling. With a little experimentation, you’ll achieve bakery-worthy results.

The most important thing is to cool angel food cake completely before slicing for best texture. Follow proper technique, and enjoy the heavenly treat!

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