So what is cake flour? Why is it used? What’s the difference? Can you substitute it and can you make your own?
These are all questions a baker comes to ask themselves as they stare at the different flours on the supermarket shelves… i know i’ve been there! And so I’ve written this blog to explain to you everything you need to know about what cake flour really is and why it’s used.
All-Purpose Flour vs. Cake Flour — What’s the Difference?
The main difference, in simple terms, is that cake flour has less protein in it than all purpose flour and is ground to be more of a fine consistency. Protein helps the flour to bind your ingredients and so a cake with flour that has a higher amount of protein will be more dense than a cake with flour with a lower amount of protein. This basically means that cake flour produces a lighter, fluffier cake than all purpose flour!
What is cake flour used for?
Cake flour can often be found in most cake recipes with a more tender, delicate crumb. It is usually used for cakes with a higher proportion of sugar, as the cake flour helps the cake to rise more and become less dense. So if you are aiming for a taller and lighter/ fluffier cake then cake flour is the way to go!
Can i substitute all purpose for cake flour and vice versa?
Let’s start with the reverse. Swapping out your all purpose flour with cake flour unfortunately is not advised. As we all know, baking is a science and even the smallest of changes in quantities or substitute ingredients can drastically change your cake. This is why, if the recipe calls for all purpose flour, it’s best to follow this. This is because cake flour is more delicate and may ruin the texture of your cake if it is a recipe that needs more stability.
However, if you do run out of cake flour, then you can easily substitute this for your all purpose flour, provided you add cornflour (cornstarch). The recipe for this is below.
How do I make homemade cake flour?
For every cup of all purpose flour you use, remove 2 tablespoons of flour and replace them with 2 tablespoons of cornflour. In metric terms, for every 125g of cake flour you use, substitute this with 105g of all purpose flour and 20g of cornflour.
What about self-raising (self-rising) flour as a substitute for cake flour?
If you don’t have any all-purpose flour then self-raising flour does make a good substitute for cake flour. This is because it has a lower amount of protein than plain flour. However, self-raising flour already has a raising agent in it and so you will need to adjust your other raising agents in the recipe to account for this.
To summarise this blog, cake flour is usually used to produce a taller, lighter and fluffier cake, with a more delicate and tender crumb than a cake that uses self-raising or all purpose flour, and yes, it can easily be substituted at home! Hopefully this blog has helped all you bakers out there to determine what will be best for your delicious bakes and will help you to develop your own secret recipes for success when baking those delicious fluffy cake layers of heaven!