Before starting with the ingredients, it's important to also get your baking equipment ready! Wash your mixing bowl with a degreasing soup and white vinegar. Rinse clean with water and dry the bowl. Preheat the oven to 325F/163C and prepare your baking pan(s). Angel food cake needs to be baked in ungreased pans, otherwise it will not rise or stay fluffy. I recommend lining just the bottom of your pan with parchment paper, leaving the rest of the pan clean and ungreased. I used a 9-inch funnel cake pan. You can also use two, 8-inch round cake pans or a 24-count cupcake pan.
Mixing the Cake Batter:
Place the egg whites and sugar into your stand mixer bowl and whisk on low speed first for 3 to 4 minutes, until the sugar is about half-way dissolved. If you want to add in the cream of tartar, add it now. Turn the mixer up to high speed and whisk for 6 to 8 minutes, until the egg whites reach stiff peak stage and form glossy peaks. Add in the vanilla extract and whisk again for 30 seconds.
In a separate bowl, pre-sift the flour and add the salt and optional baking powder; baking powder will help keep the cake fluffy. Begin sifting the flour into the egg whites; do this in small increments (I split the flour into 3 parts). Sift the flour into the egg whites, then fold gently but thoroughly from the bottom of the mixing bowl. It's very important to keep the egg whites as fluffy as possible. Once all the flour is incorporated, sift in more. Watch my video recipe to see how it's done!
If using a funnel cake pan, drop heaping spoonfuls of the batter into the prepared pan. If using round cake pans, divide the batter evenly between the pans. Use a scoop for cupcakes. Once the batter is in the pan, tap the pan hard a few times against your work surface to fill any possible air pockets. Use a small spatula to leave the batter.
Baking the Angel Food Cake:
Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes for the classic funnel cake recipe; the cake will be a light golden color on the top. Remove the cake from the oven and immediately invert it onto a cooling rack to cool; this will keep the cake from deflating. Cool for at least an hour before handling. For round cake pans, bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or just until the tops are set and lightly golden. For cupcakes, bake for about 20 to 22 minutes.
Once the cake is cooled, run a knife or spatula along the edge of the cake to release it from the pan. Invert onto a cake stand and garnish with a dusting of confectioner's sugar and berries. Serve the simple funnel cake with jams, butter, whipped cream or berries. Frost layered cakes and cupcakes with my 'Whipped Cream Frosting' or 'Berry Whipped Cream Frosting'.