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The Heavenly History of Angel Food Cake

Let’s get one thing straight- angel food cakes are not just any kind of desserts. They’re the divinely textured and light-as-feather desserts that could even make the angels go “mmmm”. And when it comes to the history of this heaven-sent dessert, there are various versions of its origin stories. So, grab a slice of angel food cake, and let’s dive into the sweet and feather-light history of it.

The first story of angel food cakes can be traced back to the pre-Civil War era. It is said that the cakes were created by African-American slaves who had been given access to baking leftovers from their masters. These leftovers usually included egg whites, which were used to create the airy texture of angel food cake. This led to the invention of the sponge-like, airy cake that came to be called the angel food cake.

Another version of the origin story of angel food cake involves a well-to-do woman living in Philadelphia, named Mrs. Cornelius K. Bliss. As the story goes, in 1871, Mrs. Bliss was looking for a cake that was lighter than the usual butter cakes. She asked her cook to come up with something different, and the result was the now-familiar angel food cake. Mrs. Bliss loved the cake so much that she shared the recipe with her friends, bringing the angel food cake into the limelight.

The popularity of angel food cake surged in the early 20th century when electric mixers became widely available. With the mixer’s help, home bakers could whisk egg whites to fluffy perfection with ease. The cake rapidly became a staple item on dinner tables and church events.

During World War II, angel food cakes were used as a tool for raising morale among American soldiers. Its light texture made it easy to pack and transport to soldiers fighting overseas. Homefront support groups even created recipes for easy-to-make angel food cakes that didn't use rare ingredients or gas-consuming ovens. The angel food cake became a symbol of America's sweet spirit during the war.

Angel food cake has come a long way and has evolved to become a must-have dessert for various occasions, including weddings, birthdays, and holiday gatherings, and it continues to be a symbol of class and grace. The airy texture and sweetness of angel food cake remind us of the delicate pleasure that comes from savoring something that's been passed down through history and refined to perfection. 


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