Most pumpkin angel food cake on the interwebs is made from a mix, but my pumpkin angel food cake is from scratch, and it is fabulous! Scroll down for video!
How bizarre is it that I have to denote pumpkin angel food cake from scratch? One might assume that this would be implied, but one would be wrong. When I first thought (because I had a bag full of egg whites in my freezer, meticulously frozen one by one in ice trays as I used the yolks for other applications as well as a cup of pumpkin left over from making my signature pumpkin-banana-chocolate chip muffins) of making a pumpkin angel food cake, I began perusing the interwebs for recipes to inspire my recipe to no avail. Every. Single. Recipe. that I found called for a box of angel food cake mix. Are you kidding?
Look, there’s something that I know about angel food cake: beaten egg whites are fragile at best, temperamental at worst. You just have to, as Julia Child put it, have courage. Maybe you know the secret to beating a heavy, wet ingredient into your angel food cake batter and still turning out an impossibly tall confection with the pumpkin perfectly evenly distributed throughout the tight crumbs of the cake. Me, however….well, I just decided that I was okay with the fact that this cake was not likely to be as tall as a plain angel food cake (it isn’t, though the height is still impressive) and that a pocket of pumpkin here and there was not a problem-in fact, it lends a lovely hint of just exactly what that mysterious ingredient is that adds a deep but not obvious flavor and a slight tinge of an orange color. I was also okay with the fact that my slightly more moist than your average angel food cake stuck to the pan a little bit, leaving a hole that I promptly cut out with my first slice.
Of course, pumpkin-based desserts are a traditional Thanksgiving offering, so I am sure that you are not surprised that I am giving you this pumpkin angel food cake recipe in November. Traditional Thanksgiving desserts tend to be thick, dense, somewhat heavy, as in the syrupy sweetness of pecan pie (Philip’s poison of choice and something that I had to learn to make for him) and the thick custard of the ubiquitous pumpkin pie or a sweet potato pie. This is a light and airy alternative to those, something to cleanse the palate, something that’s virtually sinless on a day when you feel like you need to beg forgiveness for your food transgressions (though I never feel regret over eating fabulous food). Served with an acidic scoop of buttermilk ice cream like I’ve shown here, this dessert is practically a health food (please ignore the sugar content in the recipe…ahem). (I still have pumpkin mini-trifles and pumpkin buttermilk pie up my sleeve, by the way.)
I hope you love this from scratch pumpkin angel food cake!
Yield: 10-12 servings
This recipe is adapted from America's Test Kitchen .
30 minPrep Time:
1 hrCook Time:
1 hr, 30 Total Time:
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
- 3/4 cups cake flour-I used Swan's Down (3 ounces)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or Chinese Five-Spice Powder (I used Alchemy Spice Wake & Bake Sweet Spice Blend)
- 12 Large egg whites (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt (or 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 3/4 cups pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. If you are using a tube pan that does not have a removable bottom (do these still exist??!?!?!), line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Whisk 3/4 cup of the sugar and the pumpkin pie spice or Chinese five-spice powder with the cake flour in a medium bowl.
- Whip the egg whites and the cream of tartar together over medium-low speed in a stand mixer for about a minute, until foamy. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip until puffy, about a minute, then add the salt and the remaining sugar a tablespoon at a time. Whip until soft peaks are reached.
- Remove from the stand mixer and gently whisk in the lemon juice by hand. Sift the flour/sugar mixture over the egg whites 1/4 cup and a time, gently but thoroughly folding in with a silicone spatula after each addition. Now, add the pumpkin puree 1/4 cup at a time, taking great care not to deflate the egg whites as you are folding. You will end up with a few pockets of pumpkin throughout the batter-that's okay.
- Carefully scrape the batter into the prepared tube pan. Tap the bottom of the pan against the counter a few times to settle it. Place in the oven for 50-60 minutes, until golden brown and springy.
- Remove the cake from the oven and immediately invert. Most tube pans have "feet" or the center portion is taller than the edges allowing the pan to stand off of the counter, but if yours does not place the center of the pan over a sturdy bottle. Cool like this for at least three hours before removing from the pan. This step keeps the cake from deflating as it cools.
- Run a thin knife or spatula around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake, then (assuming your pan has a removable bottom) push the bottom out of the pan and run the knife/spatula under the cake and around the center to loosen the cake from the base. Serve at room temperature.
A tube pan is essential to making this cake. Any other pan will not allow the cake to "climb" and reach the height that an angel food cake should reach, resulting in a squat, dense cake. You can buy an inexpensive tube pan at any store that sells home goods. It's worth the investment.