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Simple Coffee Angel Food Cake: The “Most Talked-About Cake”

Preview: This recipe for coffee angel food cake uses a cake mix. No separating of egg whites, no layers, and no guilt-inducing leftover egg yolks.

Helen Corbitt billed her from-scratch recipe for Coffee Angel Food Cake as “the most talked-about cake at Neiman Marcus.”

But despite many attempts, my scratch angel food cakes often turn out to be underachievers who can’t seem to reach the top of the pan. Cake mix, please.

And here’s more good news: no separating of egg whites, no layers, and no guilt-inducing leftover egg yolks.

My first introduction to this cake came on the first day of my first job out of college at the downtown Dallas Neiman-Marcus store (minimum wage–my parents were not impressed). 

partially-sliced coffee angel food cake next to plates and coffee cups

Every day, I was “forced” to walk by the snack bar strategically placed under the escalator. The coffee angel food cake they displayed under glass tempted me as much as the discount deals I often found on the “Last Call” rack.

Thankfully, I can now make this treat myself, and you can, too. By the way, you can still see the original scratch recipe in Helen Corbitt’s Cookbook (paid link).

Let’s start at the beginning…

Ingredients and Substitutions

individual ingredients needed for cake

  • ANGEL FOOD CAKE MIX: As it turns out, angel food cake mixes always rise higher than my scratch cakes, and they’re quite tasty. Adding flavoring, such as instant espresso, improves them considerably.
  • INSTANT ESPRESSO: Instant espresso is my substitute for coffee. You can try instant coffee if you need a substitute. Be sure to dissolve it in the water called for by the cake mix before adding it. Otherwise, it may not completely dissolve in the cake mix.
  • BUTTER: I can’t recommend margarine as a substitute for butter. Do what you must.
  • POWDERED SUGAR: No substitutes for powdered sugar in this icing recipe. You can make your own powdered sugar from granulated sugar with a powerful blender.
  • MILK: Whole, 2%, or skim milk will all work with this icing. Even creamer or half and half could be used, but it will make this frosting super-rich.
  • VANILLA EXTRACT: You could leave this out if you don’t have it.
  • ALMONDS: I like to use sliced almonds. In my book, they must be toasted for the best flavor. You can do it in 2-3 minutes with a paper plate and a microwave oven. (Stir after every minute.)

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I freeze this cake?

Yes. Store cake slices in a plastic storage container so the the cake won’t get squashed. Supposedly, you can keep angel food cake from 4-6 months. I haven’t tried it myself.

cut slices of coffee angel food cake

How should I store coffee angel food cake?

Because of the butter icing, keep the cake well-covered in the refrigerator.

Also, chilling the cake makes it easier to cut neat slices.

Speaking of neater slices, use a serrated knife and “saw” the same way you do bread. See the recommended products below for my favorite knife for this purpose.

What kind of pan should I use if I don’t have an angel food cake pan?

Use a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Your cake will rise higher when the surface is NOT non-stick. Don’t grease the sides.

Cut wax paper or parchment paper to fit the bottom (not the sides) of the pan. The paper will help you remove the cake from the pan after it cools.

Is one cake mix better than another?

Probably. You can read different opinions on the web.

In my experience, the grocery stores I frequent only carry one brand of angel food cake. I buy what I can get.

If I want to make the angel food cake from scratch instead of using a cake mix, how should I modify it for this recipe?

Since you won’t be using water as you would with a cake mix, fold in the instant espresso when you fold in any flavorings such as almond or vanilla extract.

How to make Coffee Angel Food Cake:

Adding instant espresso dissolved in water to the cake mix
1. Add instant espresso dissolved in water to the cake mix.
Mix according to package directions
2. Mix according to package directions.
cake batter when there is a soft peak
3. The cake batter should hold a soft peak.
pouring batter into angel food cake pan
4. Pour cake batter into an ungreased angel food cake pan. Bake according to the directions on the cake-mix box.
using a bottle to cool cake
5. Place the baked cake upside down on top of a bottle to cool as soon as it comes out of the oven. (Kitchen Secret: Even if your pan has legs, don’t use them. It puts the pressure in the wrong place kinda like ill-fitting underwear)
loosening cake from pan
6. When completely cool (a couple of hours), run a thin knife around the sides and the middle of the pan to free the cake. Turn upside down onto a plate.

Making the coffee icing:

whipping butter for icing
1. Whip the room-temperature butter until soft and fluffy.
adding powdered sugar
2. Add the powdered sugar to the butter and continue to whip until smooth.
adding milk
3. Add the milk with the instant espresso powder dissolved into it to the bowl of icing. Whip until smooth and fluffy like marshmallow creme.
frosting the cake
4. Frost the cake. An offset knife makes it easier for those of us with fumble fingers.
decorating with almonds
5. Sprinkle top and sides with toasted sliced almonds.
chilled cake before cutting
6. Chill before serving. Makes it easier to get clean slices. A serrated knife helps, too. Saw it like you would a piece of cake.

Interested in more coffee-flavored treats?

Did you enjoy this recipe? If so, you can help others and me by leaving a 5-star 🤩 rating in the comment section below. No comment is required.

p.s. If you have any questions or suggestions, you can email me privately: Paula at

Hope to see you again soon!

uncut espresso angel food cake

Coffee Angel Food Cake Recipe

This coffee-flavored angel food cake recipe is covered with coffee-flavored icing and studded with toasted almonds.
Paula Rhodes
4.38 from 8 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Cakes and Icing
Servings 12 slices


  • 1 angel food cake mix
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso added to water called for in cake mix.


  • ½ cup butter - 1 stick–softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾-1 cup toasted - sliced almonds


  • Cake
  • Follow directions on the package, adding instant espresso to water before adding water to the dry cake mix.
  • Continue mixing and bake cake as directed. Allow to cool completely and remove from the pan.
  • Espresso Icing
  • Whip butter until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and mix well. Add milk and espresso. Continue to mix, adding milk if necessary for an easily-spreadable consistency.
  • Spread icing over the entire cake, including inside the middle hole. Sprinkle toasted sliced almonds over the entire cake.



Serving: 1sliceCalories: 356kcalCarbohydrates: 54gProtein: 3gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 536mgPotassium: 71mgFiber: 1gSugar: 44gVitamin A: 245IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 66mgIron: 1mg
Keyword angel food cake, cake recipes, coffee desserts, easy desserts, espresso desserts, holidays, instant espresso, toasted almonds
Cuisine American
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Recipe Rating

Sunday 12th of May 2019

Holly Geriner

Monday 26th of March 2012

Would you refrigerate this cake?


Tuesday 24th of August 2010

I grew up eating this cake. First from Neiman's and then my mom made it. Thank you for posting the recipe!


Tuesday 25th of May 2010

looks delicious....semi-homemade :)


Tuesday 25th of May 2010

This looks fabulous, I will add this to my recipes!