Top | Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen

Five-Spice Angel Food Cake

(recipe, Tom Douglas)


  1. 1 cup cake flour
  2. 1 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder (see Note)
  3. ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  4. 10 large egg whites, at room temperature
  5. 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  6. 1 tsp. pure almond extract
  7. ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  8. 1¼ cups sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, five-spice powder, and salt, then sift the mixture again.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and extracts together at medium speed. Increase the speed to high and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, beating until just before the peaks are stiff. The egg whites should be glossy and smooth. Be careful not to overbeat; overbeaten whites will not expand well in the oven and the cake will not be as tall.
  4. Fold half the flour mixture into the beaten whites with a rubber spatula. Then fold in the remaining flour mixture, being careful not to overwork the batter. Pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan and place on the middle oven rack.
  5. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Let the cake sit for a few minutes before inverting the pan onto a cake rack or the neck of a wine bottle to let the cake cool in the pan.
  6. When the cake is completely cool (about two hours after baking), turn the cake pan back over and gently run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake. Turn the cake out onto a serving plate.


You can buy five-spice powder at most grocery stores, but you can also mix your own from freshly ground spices (use a propeller grinder for the fastest grinding). All you need are equal parts ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground fennel seeds (toasted first), ground star anise, and ground Szechuan peppercorns (toasted first). Store in an airtight jar. This cake keeps, well wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to 2 days.