Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Angel Food, or White Sponge Cake - 1894 Receipt

Angel Food Cake
  • 11 whites of eggs
  • 10 ounces of fine granulated sugar—all that can be shaken and heaped on a cup.
  • 5 ounces of flour—a cup moderately heaped.
  • 2 rounded teaspoonfuls of cream of tartar.
  • 2 teaspoonfuls of vanilla or lemon extract.
Get two pans together, put the cream of tartar into the flour and mix them by sifting out of one pan into the other six or seven times.
Whip the whites firm enough to bear up an egg, put in the sugar, beat a few seconds, add the flavoring, then stir in the flour lightly without beating.

When the flour is mixed in fairly out of sight it is finished. As soon as mixed put the cake in the oven. It needs careful baking like a meringue in a slack oven and should stay in from 20 to 30 minutes. A deep smooth mold with an unusually large tube is the best, but any other will do.

The mold should not be greased, but when the cake is done turn it upside down, the tube or something else holding it up to let the air in, and leave it to get cold before trying to take it out. Then cover it with the plain sugar glaze of the next receipt [We won't add that receipt here because it uses raw egg whites.].

The rule for angel food in large quantities is a pound of sugar, a pound of whites, half a pound of flour and an ounce of cream tartar.

[The neat thing about this receipt/recipe for Angel Food Cake is the short story about the history of who invented it. Read on below.]


Angel food, as this peculiarly white and light sponge cake is fancifully named has quite a history to be recorded. It originated in St. Louis a few years ago and is seen oftener in the hotel bills of fare of that city than anywhere else.

S. Sides, who kept a large cafe or restaurant there invented it and did not fail to make the most of his discovery, and it soon came into such great demand that not only was no fine party supper complete without it but it was shipped to distant cities, orders coming even from London. For some time the method of making it was kept a profound secret but at length the inventor yielded so far as to sell the receipt for twenty-five dollars, having it understood that it could not be made without a certain powder that could be obtained from him alone.

It did not take long to discover that the powder was nothing but cream of tartar and the receipt once communicated gradually became common property. Many of the caterers for parties make a specialty of it, for it is still sufficiently difficult to make always alike to prevent its becoming utterly common, and a considerable number of the cakes are sent out packed in boxes to surrounding towns, and occasionally to
the east and south.

The difficulty such as it is, that makes the caterers say this cake has been more trouble to them than anything else, and leads to the use of special molds to bake it in is the tendency to fall in at the center after baking.

Nordic Ware Heavyweight
Angel Food Cake Pan, 10 Inch

The mold not being greased holds the cake up to its shape until cold. The lamb's-wool texture of it may be made finer by stirring after the flour is added. The cake will be better when a day old than when first baked, but to keep the outside from drying and to make it better eating, as it has no richness in its ingredients, it is always covered with a flavored sugar glaze or icing.

It may have no direct connection with it, but Sides, who originated angel food, afterwards lost his reason and was taken to an insane asylum, his wife continuing the business he established.


Angel Food, or White Sponge Cake - 1894 Receipt Article taken from:

Volume 1 of the "Oven and Range" Series
The American Pastry Cook

by Jessup Whitehead

Jessup Whitehead & Co., Publishers

A book of perfected Receipts, for making all sorts of articles required of the Hotel Pastry Cook, Baker and Confectioner, especially adapted for Hotel and Steamboat [yes, steamboat...this book is 121 years old] use, and for Cafes and Fine Bakeries.

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