Is store bought angel food cake dairy free?

Angel food cake is a light and airy cake that relies on beaten egg whites for its texture. Unlike other cakes, it contains no butter, oil or other dairy products. For this reason, angel food cake is naturally dairy-free. However, there are some things to consider when purchasing store-bought angel food cake to ensure it is 100% dairy-free.

What Makes Angel Food Cake Dairy-Free?

Traditional angel food cake recipes contain just a few basic ingredients: egg whites, sugar, flour, cream of tartar and vanilla extract. The lack of butter, milk and other dairy ingredients is what gives angel food cake its characteristic lightness.

Egg whites whipped to stiff peaks give the cake lift, while the sugar stabilizes the egg foam. Cream of tartar adds stability and acidity to help the egg whites hold their volume. The flour is typically cake or pastry flour, which provides structure without denseness. Vanilla extract enhances the cake’s flavor.

Some updated recipes may include ingredients like lemon zest, almond extract or salt to complement the vanilla. But the core ingredients remain the same – egg whites are essential for the signature airy texture.

Do Store-Bought Brands Contain Dairy?

For the most part, brand name angel food cakes sold in grocery stores stick to the basic dairy-free recipe. Popular national brands like Sara Lee and Pillsbury are dairy-free, making them safe choices for those avoiding milk products.

Always check the ingredient list to be sure. Look for eggs, sugar, flour and flavor extracts without any butter, milk, cream or other dairy derivatives. Many brands will advertise on the packaging if the cake is “dairy-free” or “non-dairy.”

What About Glazes, Frostings or Toppings?

While the cake itself is dairy-free, many pre-made angel food cakes are sold with glazes, frostings or fruit toppings. These additional ingredients may contain milk, cream or butter.

For example, cinnamon crumb cake or lemon glazed varieties may include dairy in the topping. Chocolate chip, strawberry swirl and coconut cream angel food cakes can have dairy-based flavored fillings. Be diligent about reading ingredient labels thoroughly.

If you see an angel food cake decorated with frosting or fruit, assume it contains dairy unless labeled otherwise. Opt for the plain unfrosted variety or add your own non-dairy whipped topping at home.

Are All Store Brands Safe for Dairy Allergies?

Those with milk allergies or lactose intolerance should be extra vigilant about verifying labels. While most major brands are dairy-free, there is always the possibility of cross-contamination at bakeries.

Some brands may use shared equipment to make multiple cake varieties, creating a risk of contact with milk residue. Packaging and bottling may also occur on shared lines.

Your safest option is to look for dedicated dairy-free brands or cakes certified “dairy-free”. These products are produced in facilities that avoid any milk exposure. Common certification labels to look for include:

  • Dairy-Free Certification by Dairy Free Living
  • Allergen Safe by Kitchens with Confidence
  • NSF Gluten-Free Certification Program

You can also check manufacturer websites for statements on how they handle food allergies and whether items are produced on dedicated equipment.

Can I Make Dairy-Free Angel Food Cake at Home?

Baking angel food cake from scratch is simple with just a few pantry staples. It’s an egg-celent way to control ingredients and avoid dairy.

Basic Homemade Angel Food Cake

This easy dairy-free recipe uses just 5 ingredients:

  • 12 egg whites
  • 1 1⁄4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whip the egg whites with cream of tartar to stiff peaks. Fold in the sugar, flour and vanilla gently to maintain volume. Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes until lightly golden. Cool upside down suspended over the neck of a bottle.

Tips for Perfect Homemade Angel Food Cake

Follow these tips for angel food cake that rivals the bakery:

  • Use cake flour – Lower protein than all-purpose flour makes a more delicately tender crumb.
  • Thoroughly whip whites – Whisk until glossy, stiff peaks form to incorporate maximum air.
  • Fold gently – Use a spatula to carefully fold in sugar and flour to avoid deflating whites.
  • Grease pan well – Coat with shortening and flour generously so cake can cleanly release.
  • Cool inverted – Hanging upside down prevents cake from collapsing under its own weight.

Dairy-Free Angel Food Cake Add-Ins

Customize your angel food cake with any of these easy dairy-free mix-ins:

Add-In Amount
Lemon, orange or almond extract 1 teaspoon
Grated lemon, orange or lime zest 2 tablespoons
Vanilla bean seeds scraped from 1 bean Seeds from 1 bean
Chopped fresh fruit like berries or citrus 1⁄2 to 1 cup
Toasted nuts like almonds or walnuts, chopped 1⁄2 to 1 cup
Unsweetened cocoa powder 3-4 tablespoons
Shredded coconut 1⁄2 to 1 cup

Try swirls of fruit jam or whipped coconut cream for pretty layers without dairy. Top your cake with roasted fruit, chocolate curls or dust with powdered sugar instead of frosting.

What About Vegan Angel Food Cake?

You can make angel food cake completely plant-based by replacing the eggs. However, the texture will be different without the egg white foam.

Easy Vegan Substitutions

To make vegan angel food cake, replace the 12 eggs with one of these substitutions:

  • Aquafaba (chickpea liquid) – Drain and whisk 1 1⁄2 (15-ounce) cans of chickpeas until foamy.
  • Flax eggs – Blend 12 tablespoons flax meal with 1 1⁄4 cups water until thickened.
  • Commercial egg replacer – Follow package instructions to make the equivalent of 12 eggs.

Use dairy-free yogurt or non-dairy milk in place of buttermilk, if desired. You can also substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour.

Adjusting Recipe for Egg Substitutes

Since these replacements can’t achieve the same airy foam, you’ll need to tweak the recipe slightly:

  • Reduce oven temperature 25°F to prevent over-browning
  • Use 1 teaspoon baking powder to add lift
  • Increase sugar to 1 1⁄2 cups to retain moisture
  • Add 1-2 tablespoons oil or yogurt for richness
  • Bake 10 minutes longer, until toothpick comes out clean

The resulting cake will be denser with a coarser crumb. But the flavor can still be delicious with dairy-free ingredients!

What About Angel Food Cake Mix?

Commercial angel food cake mixes provide an easy shortcut for homemade cakes. But be aware that some brands’ ingredients may not be dairy-free.

Choosing a Dairy-Free Cake Mix

Scan the ingredient list closely to identify dairy-free options. Look for:

  • No milk, whey, buttermilk powder or other dairy derivatives
  • “Dairy-free” labeled

Many leading brands like Betty Crocker are not safe for dairy-free diets. Always check labels thoroughly before purchasing.

Preparing Mix for Dairy-Free Diets

While the mix itself may be dairy-free, most brands instruct you to add butter or milk. Choose plant-based substitutions when preparing the cake batter:

  • Use oil instead of melted butter
  • Replace milk with non-dairy milk
  • Top with dairy-free whipped cream

Most mixes only require water, oil and egg whites so they are easy to adapt. Whipping the egg whites properly is still key for an airy angel food cake texture.

Delicious Dairy-Free Angel Food Cake Ideas

Angel food cake offers light sweetness perfect for desserts, snacks or breakfasts. Here are creative ways to enjoy it dairy-free:

1. Angel Food Cake with Berries and Whipped Topping

Top slices of plain angel food cake with fresh berries and creamy coconut whipped cream for an easy dessert.

2. Chocolate Chip Angel Food Cake

Fold mini dairy-free chocolate chips into the batter before baking for chocolate chip angel food cake.

3. Lemon Raspberry Angel Food Cake

Mix raspberry jam into the batter and add lemon zest for bright lemon raspberry swirl cake.

4. Almond Orange Angel Food Cake

Add toasted slivered almonds and orange extract or zest to the batter for citrus crunch.

5. Angel Food Cake French Toast

Cut angel food cake into slices, soak in non-dairy milk and egg replacer then pan fry for French toast.

6. Angel Food Cake Trifle

Layer angel food cake with dairy-free pudding and fruit for an impressive no-bake dessert.

7. Angel Food Cake Skewers

Thread angel food cake chunks onto skewers with fruit for a fun party or barbecue dessert.

The Bottom Line

Store-bought angel food cake is typically dairy-free, but always check labels carefully for glazes, frostings or fillings that may contain milk products. For absolute safety, look for brands that are certified dairy-free or bake your own egg white-based cake at home. With just a few simple ingredients, you can easily whip up dairy-free angel food cake from scratch.

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