Making angel food cake from scratch can be an incredibly satisfying process. But as you may know by now, you do need some special equipment to make this cake!
First, you need an angel food cake pan, which isn’t as easy to find (or cheap) as you would hope. If you don’t have this special cake pan, you can use a regular pan, but you typically need a glass bottle to cool it.
So, how do you cool angel food cake? If you don’t have a glass bottle or special cake pan, you can use a simple wire rack and invert the cake directly onto it — don’t worry, it won’t fall out! You can also invert the cake pan onto any elevated object that the edges can rest on (ex. bricks, bowls, spoon handles, tin cans, etc.).
Today, we will take a more in-depth look at some alternative ways to cool an angel food cake pan without a glass bottle. We’ll also answer some of the most asked questions on these cooling techniques!
How Is Angel Food Cake Cooled?
Angel food cake is one of the softest, fluffiest, and spongiest cakes you will come across.
It is made using regular cake ingredients — the secret is in the eggs used!
These cakes are made with only egg whites that have been beaten to stiff peaks.
This airy mixture is then folded into the cake batter to create a super light and airy cake batter. When it is baked, the egg whites act as a natural leavening agent and help to further lift and soften the cake crumb!
Now, this may all sound pretty straightforward up until this point, and it is. However, where most angel food cakes fail is in the way they are cooled!
Like cheesecakes, angel food cake has a very delicate and finicky cake crumb. It is super fragile — the slightest draft and wrong movement will cause it to collapse.
For that reason, these cakes are cooled upside down and suspended over a glass bottle!
Because angel food cakes are baked in tube pans or bundt cake pans, the hole can be placed inside the neck of a glass bottle. Remember to fill the bottle with some type of weight to prevent it from easily falling over!
Why Does Angel Food Cake Need To Be Cooled This Way?
Now, you may be questioning this technique — some even say that it is excessive. But here is why it is crucial, and really the only method that works.
First, the structure of the cake (while it is still warm) is too fragile and weak to support the weight of the cake.
For that reason, inverting it (turning it upside down) will take some weight off. It will let the cake cool in an elongated state, which helps maintain the fluffy texture you just worked to create.
Secondly, the reason you have to use a glass bottle (or something similar) is to keep the cake off the counter.
If you simply place it on the counter, there won’t be any ventilation for the cake — this will cause it to sweat and change its texture and even flavor.
So, the glass bottle helps keep it off the counter so the cake can stand inverted while getting ventilation!
Why Is A Glass Bottle Used?
Traditionally, angel food cakes are baked in special types of tube pans. More often than not, they are actually marketed as “angel food cake pans.”
These pans look like regular, loose-based tube pans, but they have 3–4 small metal “legs” at the top of the cake pan (the open side). They aren’t exceptionally tall (about ½-inch in height) and are made from the same material the pan is.
These legs do the same thing as the glass bottle — you can invert the angel food cake and there is still enough space to help the cake ventilate! So that makes it obvious why the glass bottle is used.
Using a glass bottle is the easiest method to cool the angel food cake in a similar way as when you have a cake pan without these feet.
How To Cool Angel Food Cake (Without A Glass Bottle)
As we’ve explained, you have to invert the angel food cake and allow it to ventilate while cooling.
Most pans that angel food cakes are baked in have feet. These feet help create that bit of space between the inverted cake pan and the surface area. So, they work perfectly fine as is.
When you bake in a regular cake pan (without feet) you need some alternative methods — you don’t need to use a glass bottle; it just makes it super easy.
Luckily, there really are an endless amount of alternatives if you get creative!
Method 1: Use A Cooling Rack
It really can be this simple! However, it has to be a specific type of cooling rack. Your wire rack needs to be at least ¼-inch from the surface area (tabletop).
If there isn’t, not enough heat will be able to escape — this will not only make the cake take longer to cool completely, but it can cause some condensation on its surface! This condensation creates a sticky, unappealing layer.
If you only have a short cooling rack, you can always place the sides on glasses or mugs of equal height to create even more space beneath the rack.
Here is how to do it:
- Set up the cooling rack. If necessary, place all 4 edges underneath glasses or mugs that are equal in height. Place the cooling rack over it and make sure it doesn’t jiggle and that it is secure.
- Invert the cake pan. Take the wire rack and place it over the opening of the cake pan. Then, press the pan and rack together tightly. Quickly flip them over so the wire rack is at the bottom. Don’t worry — the cake pan isn’t lubricated, so the cake won’t fall out!
- Leave the cake to cool. Place the wire rack (with the cake pan on top of it) onto the 4 mugs, then let the cake cool for a couple of hours at room temperature. Keep it away from drafts!
Method 2: Place It Over Bowls, Spoons, Or Bricks
This is a versatile method that is a great alternative if you don’t have a wire cooling rack or glass bottle — you can use anything to make it work!
You will need at least two items of the same height, but preferably three. Three makes the set-up a lot more secure and the cake won’t fall off easily.
Here is how to do it:
- To do this, you need to place three containers (of equal height) in a triangle. Each should line up with the corners of the cake pan.
- Then, you will simply place the cake pan onto these elevated objects (inverted, of course). Remember, your cake won’t fall out! By elevating it, you are supporting its weight and allowing it to ventilate and cool down.
You can use storage containers, large wooden spoons (although these may be too short), bricks, canned foods, mixing bowls, or other cake pans.
Even the back of a muffin pan will work — it can support the cake pan the angel food cake is in, plus it allows some ventilation!
Again, just think about the two requirements — finding a makeshift cooling system is super easy!
Now that we’ve learned all about angel food cake, plus how to cool it without a glass bottle, here are some additional questions we thought you might have.
Can you cool an angel food cake inside the fridge?
You can, but there are many cons to doing so.
First of all, you still need to turn the cake upside down and give it ventilation. Secondly, the fridge can create a sticky layer on the surface of the cake, or alternatively, it will dry it out.
When cooling a cake, especially one as delicate as this, you should always follow the proper techniques for the best results!
How do you get an angel food cake out of the pan?
Angel food cake pans aren’t greased, so that the cake doesn’t fall out when it is inverted and cooled. Obviously, this means that the cake can be somewhat stuck!
Here is how to get an angel food cake out of the pan:
- Run a thin, flexible knife around the inner tube and outer tube of the pan.
- Lift the cake out of the sides.
- Glide the knife all along the bottom of the cake pan.
- You can invert the cake again onto a wire rack to catch it when you remove the tube part.