Not only do we love cakes for their sweet and delicious taste, but we can also enjoy them in several varieties.
Pound cake and angel food cake are two favorite desserts commonly served on special occasions, such as birthdays, weddings, family gatherings, and more.
As cakes, they share similar main ingredients. Nevertheless, the two are different. Read on to learn more about the difference between pound cake and angel food cake.
We usually classify cakes according to their flavor, like fruit cakes or chocolate cakes.
However, bakers categorize them based on their baking methods, such as ingredients, mixing process, and the batter’s preparation.
Pound cake belongs to the category of butter cakes, while angel food cake is a sponge cake. These two categories are basic types of cake according to the baking method.
Bakers classify cakes into three based on how they’re prepared:
Butter cakes have a dense, moist, and rich texture. They contain fat, which can either be oil or butter, and a leavening ingredient like baking powder. These are then combined using the creaming method in an electric mixer.
Bakers further divide butter cakes into pound cakes and layer cakes:
Pound cake is the least complicated butter cake. It gets its name from its ingredients which are one pound each of flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. It’s baked in a loaf pan or a Bundt pan. Pound cakes are usually served plain or with some light glaze and flavoring. Variations include coffee cake, fruit crumb cake, and sour cream cake.
This cake is lighter compared to the pound cake. Some variations are golden cake, devil’s food cake, and white cake.
Sponge cakes or foam cakes are lighter and much airier than butter cakes. And unlike them, sponge cakes don’t contain fat and leavening ingredients. They’re also made by whipping eggs or egg whites. Furthermore, they’re known for their spongy texture. Bakers divide them into:
This cake has only egg whites and no egg yolks. Angel food cakes are airy, spongy, and chewy. You can serve them with fruit. Additionally, they’re baked in two-piece tube pans that are ungreased.
Compared to angel food cake, this cake has a richer flavor. It has whole eggs rather than egg whites alone. It’s also used for European-style layer cakes that are lighter than thick American-style butter layer cakes.
Biscuits also have egg whites and egg yolks. But unlike Genoise, the two are whipped separately. Then the whites and yolks are folded back together after whipping.
An American creation, it was made only recently in the 1940s and 1950s. It came from a salesman who sold its recipe to the food company, General Mills. It’s considered a cross between a butter cake and a sponge cake due to its rich but light crumb. You can bake it in tube pans and then layer it with frostings and fillings.
These are cakes that are made with very little or no flour at all. They’re known for their silky or creamy texture.
Flourless cakes are either baked or unbaked:
This cake is baked using the water bath method. A spring-form pan or a round cake pan is placed in another larger pan half-filled with water. The water insulates the delicate cake from the oven’s strong heat, ensuring the cake’s silky texture. The baked flourless cake includes flourless chocolate cakes and baked cheesecakes.
Baked crust or a bottom layer is often included in an unbaked flourless cake. Then mousse, biscuit, or genoise is added. It’s molded in a springform pan or a dessert ring, then placed in the fridge to chill before unmolding. Unbaked cheesecakes and mousse cakes are examples of unbaked flourless cakes.
The angel food cake is baked using a tube pan, which is also known as the angel food cake pan. It’s a round baking pan with a hollow tube in the center that makes the baking uniform.
Angel food cake pans have removable bottoms as well as legs. These extra features are for the angel food cake’s unique cooling method.
The cake needs to be inverted while cooling. If not, it would collapse. It would likewise do the same when you remove it from the pan while still hot. Therefore, the angel food cake pan makes it easier to cool the cake upside-down.
On the other hand, the pound cake is baked using a Bundt pan or a loaf pan. A Bundt pan is a tube pan with fluted sides, while a loaf pan is a rectangular pan used for baking bread and meat loaves.
If you want to bake a pound cake but don’t have a Bundt pan or a loaf pan, it’s okay to use a tube pan instead. For best results, you can use a 10×4-inch angel food cake pan.
Sometimes, tube pans with removable bottoms, like the angel food cake pan, cause the batter to leak. Leaking won’t happen for angel food cake batter. However, it may occur for the pound cake batter.
You can wrap the pan’s bottom with aluminum foil to prevent the pound cake batter from oozing. You can also put a sheet pan on the over’s lower rack to catch any seeping batter.
Aside from being different in their baking methods, pound cake and angel food cake have different origins.
Pound cake can be traced back to Northern Europe in the 18th century. It may not be so obvious because we use cups in measurement these days, but the name “pound” comes from the cake’s ingredients being equal to one pound each.
However, most people eventually preferred lighter cakes, therefore the original recipe has changed since then. Nevertheless, the 1:1:1:1 ratio between butter, eggs, flour, and sugar remains.
Traditionally, bakers didn’t use any leavening ingredients. Baking powder or baking soda was added soon enough in the 1900s to reduce the cake’s density.
Nowadays, pound cake is enjoyed all over the world, with different names: “quatre-quarts” in France, “ponque” in Colombia and Venezuela, and “panque” in Mexico.
Meanwhile, the angel food cake’s origin is debated. Some argue that it came from the African Americans of the American South because of the need for sturdy arms to whip the egg whites. But most historians believe that it’s from the Pennsylvania Dutch of the US in the 19th century.
Angel’s food cake is named for its whiteness, lightness, and fluffiness which seems to be fit for the food of angels. Later on, a “devil’s food” cake emerged as an answer in the 20th century. Unlike angel food cake, it was dark, chocolatey, rich, and dense.
The invention of the rotary egg beater made the cake even more popular. The novel kitchen tool was patented in 1884 and immediately became everybody’s favorite. It made baking angel food cook easier because beating eggs didn’t require a lot of effort anymore.
Now, National Angel Food Cake Day is celebrated every 10th of October in the US. Many people relish the cake not just for its taste but also for being cholesterol and fat-free. Usually, a slice contains only 129 calories, making it a favorite for those on a diet.
The difference between pound cake and angel food cake lies mainly in their ingredients and their baking method.
The pound cake is a kind of butter cake. Butter cake is known for its dense texture. On the other hand, angel food cake is a light and airy sponge or foam cake. Unlike butter cakes, sponge cakes don’t contain any butter, oil, or baking powder.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.