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Angel Food Cake vs Pound Cake

Angel Food Cake and Pound Cake are both versatile, delicious cakes. But from the ingredients and fat content to the texture and flavor, these two cakes are not the same. Learn more about what makes each unique so you can be sure and order the right one for your celebration!

A place of Angel Food Cake on a plate with fruit, greens, and whipped cream.

Angel Food Cake and Pound Cake are both simple cakes, perfect for decorating and dressing up with a wide variety of flavors and syrups. But while the two types of cake may look similar on the outside, they could not be more different.

The differences, though they may be subtle to the average home chef, can have a big impact on the overall dish you are trying to achieve. 

One is light and airy while the other is moist and dense. To make sure you’re making or purchasing the right one, let’s look at the differences between the two.

What is Pound Cake?

A lemon pound cake on a cooling rack with a glaze covering it and topped with lemon slices

Pound Cake is a simple dessert cake that has been around for centuries. This cake was first shared in the 1700s when a pound each of sugar, butter, flour and eggs created a dense and delicious cake.

Pound Cake has a rich buttery flavor that can often stand alone with just a dollop of whipped cream or a light icing. 

It is a very simple cake to prepare and can be dressed up in many different ways. This Peach Cobbler Pound Cake is my favorite way to dress up Pound Cake! 

What is Angel Food Cake?

An Angel Food cake on a large place with a slice missing

Angel Food Cake is a very light and foamy cake made with no fat or egg yolks. The key ingredient is whipped egg whites which make the cake airy and fragile.

Angel Food Cake is often paired with fresh fruit to give it additional sweetness while maintaining the very light texture. The flavor of Angel Food Cake on its own is very subtle which makes it possible to dress up in many different ways.

The Main Differences Between Angel Food Cake and Pound Cake

The ingredients of these two cakes are the main difference between them, and the result of such different ingredients may be surprising. 

Pound Cake includes a lot of rich butter, sugar, flour and whole eggs. These basic ingredients come together with a lot of moisture and rich flavor. Some Pound Cake recipes have additional zest, vanilla extract or other spices like cinnamon or nutmeg but the base of a good Pound Cake is the butter and eggs.

Angel Food Cake, on the other hand, contains no fat or shortening at all and it requires a careful balance of ingredients. 

This airy cake is made with whipped egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, cake flour, and a bit of vanilla extract. As an unshortened cake, it requires an electric mixer to bring air into the batter.

These ingredients are critical for creating a cake with just the right texture and crumble. Adding anything that is not called for in the recipe may cause the cake to fall and lose its signature airy feel.

Preparation

Slices of lemon pound cake on a large plate, topped with sugar.

If you are trying to decide which cake to make at home, the preparation for each dish may help you decide. 

A typical Pound Cake recipe comes together fairly easily and can be baked in a Pound Cake pan or bundt cake pan. Pound cake’s rich flavor makes it perfect for enjoying all on its own or topping with a simple glaze or cream cheese frosting.

Angel Food Cake takes a bit more precision. 

The egg whites in Angel Food Cake must be whipped until soft peaks form. This brings air into the mixture which helps the cake rise and hold its shape. 

The mixture is then placed in a specific type of pan called a tube pan, which does not require any greasing. A tube pan looks similar to a bundt pan but with straight sides and possibly a removable bottom.

This allows the cake to rise and maintain its shape, which is often taller than a Pound Cake.

Once an Angel Food Cake is removed from the oven it is turned upside down to allow the cake to loosen from the pan and cool completely before serving.

Texture

A slice of pound cake on a white plate on a white marble counter top

The texture of Pound Cake and Angel Food Cake are almost completely opposite.

Pound Cake is a dense cake with a moist texture while Angel Food Cakes have fluffy and airy foam interiors.

The texture of Pound Cake is rich and solid, which makes it perfect for topping with icing or a dollop of whipped cream. Pound Cakes are also sturdy enough to pair with ice cream, greek yogurt or frosting.

While a Pound Cake is considered dense, it still has beautiful moist crumbs to it and should not be chewy or gummy.

Angel Food Cake is a much more delicate cake. It is known for its light texture which is full of air and soaks up the flavors of whatever it is topped with.

This fluffy white cake isn’t suited for frosting but pairs well with fruit and whipped cream.

Flavor

The flavor difference between these two cakes is also something notable. 

Pound Cake has a delicious, buttery flavor that can be enhanced with lemon or orange zest, cinnamon or vanilla. The flavor of this cake is often enough to satisfy all on its own, or sometimes be accompanied by a light icing. 

Pound Cakes are not usually paired with a buttercream frosting as it may make the dish too sugary or heavy.

Angel Food Cake has a very subtle sugary flavor that is complemented well by whipped cream and different fruits. This delicate flavor may be too delicate for those who prefer the richer flavor that comes from the use of butter.

Tips for Preparing an Excellent Pound Cake

Iced lemon pound cake on a plate topped with lemon slices and surrounded by forks, glasses, and other pastries.

Pound Cakes are much easier to master than Angel Food Cake but there are still a few ways they might be messed up. Follow these tips for best results:

  1. Beware of overmixing your batter. Overmixing could activate too much gluten and make your cake overly dense and chewy. 
  2. Don’t forget to butter the pan! Pound Cakes will stick to the pan if not buttered properly and this could make them fall apart when you try to release them from the pan.
  3. Do not disturb. Pound Cakes need consistent heat to give consistent results, so stay away from the oven during the baking process. Don’t open the door for a peek. Let the cake cook until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Tips for Preparing an Excellent Angel Food Cake

Angel Food Cakes need quite a bit more care and attention than Pound Cakes. Follow these tips for best results:

  1. Angel Food Cake begins with whipped egg whites, so take your time with this step. Be careful not to let any bit of yolk into the mixture. Egg whites at room temperature will also whip better so give your egg whites time to adjust before whipping.
  2. Once your egg whites have formed soft peaks, they are ready for dry ingredients. Gently fold in the dry ingredients by hand, rather than using a mixer, to ensure you don’t deflate the egg whites.
  3. Cake flour is important for most Angel Food Cake recipes and helps ensure your cake will be perfectly fluffy. 
  4. Cream of tartar is also a very important ingredient as it helps stabilize the egg whites and creates structure for the cake.
  5. Do not grease the pan for Angel Food Cake and invest in a good quality tube pan. This type of pan is designed specifically for this cake.

FAQs

Can I use Pound Cake as a Substitute for Angel Food Cake?

Grilled pound cake on a plate surrounded by whipped cream, berries, and a serving platter of other grilled pound cake

There are many different ways to dress up Angel Food Cake. One of the most popular ways is to make it into strawberry shortcake, topping it with strawberries and whipped cream. These toppings would also pair perfectly with a Pound Cake. 

Whether or not Pound Cake or Angel Food Cake can be substituted for one another depends on the recipe. It is important to keep the differences between the two types of cakes in mind when deciding if the substitution will work. 

Can You Use an Angel Food Cake Pan for Pound Cake?

Angel Food Cake requires a specific pan for the best results, but Pound Cakes can be baked in a variety of different pans. Pound Cakes are usually baked in a bundt pan or loaf pan but in a pinch, you could use a tube pan.

If you do decide to use a tube pan for a Pound Cake, pay attention. Tube pans often have a removable bottom, to make it easier to remove the Angel Food Cake. This removable bottom won’t leak any Angel Food Cake batter but it may leak when baking a Pound Cake.

You can prevent leaks by wrapping your pan in aluminum foil to help capture any escaping grease.

Can I Use a Bundt Pan for Angel Food Cake? 

You should not use a bundt pan for Angel Food Cake as the cake will be very hard to remove from the pan once cooked. If you do not have a tube pan, try using a springform pan. The removable bottom will be much easier on your Angel Food Cake. 

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