Make: Low-Cal Lemon Poppy Seed Angel Food Cake

Photo by Becca Boyd

Photo by Becca Boyd

I eat a lot of salad. I eat a lot of almonds. I eat probably too much fruit. I don’t, however, eat a lot of cake, and I’m betting you probably don’t either. Let me be clear: It’s not because we’re healthy eaters who consistently make the “right” diet choices; it’s simply because, outside of the occasional birthday party, we aren’t offered cake very often. Let’s remedy this crisis, shall we?

Today, I have for you a cake that’s 100 percent whole grain, made with natural sweeteners and topped with fresh fruit. Best part: It clocks in at around 250 calories a serving.

Since angel food cake is virtually free of fat, adding a moderate amount of freshly whipped cream is pretty much a given. (Aside: You can also make coconut milk whipped cream, which is to die for.) It’s cake–real cake!–minus the guilt.

Lemon Poppy Seed Angel Food Cake
Serves 12

For the cake
1¾ c. granulated sugar
1 c. plus 2 tbsp. cake flour
1/4 tsp. salt
12 large egg whites
1½ tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. lemon zest
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. poppy seeds

For the glaze
2 c. powdered sugar
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 tsp. vanilla extract


1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. If not using a tube/angel food cake pan with a removable bottom, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. DO NOT GREASE.

2. In a food processor fitted with blade, add the granulated sugar and process for one minute. Remove about half of the sugar and place in a small bowl.

3. Add the flour and salt to the processor. Process for one minute.

4. Meanwhile, in large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy, about one minute.

5. Add reserved sugar in a steady stream with mixer running. Continue to beat egg white mixture on medium high until soft peaks form.

6. Add vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice and beat until combined.

7. Sift flour/sugar mixture over egg white mixture in three parts, folding in gently each time with a rubber spatula. Add the poppy seeds with the second addition of flour/sugar.

8. Scrape mixture gently into prepared tube pan. Smooth the top of the batter. Bake for 45 minutes or until cracks look dry in the center and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

9. Immediately turn pan upside down on the neck of a wine bottle. Your pan might have feet—this works too. Cool for three hours.

10. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, loosen cake gently from the edge of the pan and turn out onto a serving platter.

11. To make glaze, whisk powdered sugar, juice, and vanilla together to a pourable consistency. (Feel free to add water or more powdered sugar to achieve desired consistency).

12. Pour glaze over center top of cake, letting drizzle down the sides and middle. Sprinkle with additional poppy seeds, if desired. To serve, cut in a sawing motion with a serrated or bread knife.

Per slice (no whipped cream): 249 calories, 0.6 fat grams, 107 milligrams sodium, 140 milligrams potassium, 58 grams carbs, 49 grams sugar, 5 grams protein. 


Becca Boyd is a wife and mom who creates healthy and delicious recipes in her West Chester kitchen. She blogs about them on her website, Home Beccanomics.

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