Cake flour is such a specific ingredient that it is not surprising that many people don’t have it in their pantry. But buying and letting it go to waste is not the best option.
Instead, you can make your own cake flour mix or substitute it with other flour types.
But what is the best cake flour substitute? The best substitutes for cake flour are finer flours and can be all-purpose flour, pastry flour, toasted oat flour, or spelt flour. While some of them can be used as 1 for 1 substitutes, others require adding a few tablespoons of cornstarch.
Continue reading to learn all about cake flour and how to substitute it with other flour types to get a result similar to the one cake flour produces.
What is Cake Flour?
Cake flour is a ‘must-have’ ingredient in the pantry of most bakers. It is a special type of flour made of wheat flour and finds its uses in baking delicate goods.
Cake flour is very soft. It is made from the most delicate part of wheat berry – the endosperm. What makes this flour even lighter and finer is that it is bleached.
Bleaching gives the flour a light color which is quite preferable when baking cakes. It also results in softer texture not only for the flour itself but most importantly in the goods you bake with it.
What Makes Cake Flour Different?
The key difference that sets cake flour apart from other flour types is its low protein content. There is 8-9% protein in cake flour which is why the texture of goods baked with it is fluffy and tender.
The low protein content is what makes it possible to bake cakes with a light texture. Protein turns into gluten when the liquid ingredients of the cake are mixed in.
Thus, the higher is the amount of protein in the flour the tougher and denser baked goods are.
Another important property that makes cake flour good for baking delicate cakes with soft crumb is the high starch content. It is the starch in the flour that holds fat and sugar. This allows us to get nicely constructed cakes that don’t fall apart.
For comparison, there is 70-73% starch in wheat flour, while cake flour contains 72-74% starch. Wheat flour is also higher in protein content (up to 14.5%).
Cake Flour Uses
Due to the texture it provides, cake flour is used in delicate baked goods. If you are using cake flour, expect a delicate final result with a tender crumb. You can use it to bake:
As cake flour has low protein content, it is not suitable for baking bread. If you attempt to use cake flour instead of bread flour, the bread will simply not rise.
Why Would You Want to Replace It?
Some people think it is essential to use store-bought cake flour when a recipe calls for it. However, many others don’t see the point in buying when they can make their own mixture with ingredients that are always at hand.
Here are the reasons why you would want to replace cake flour with your own flour mixture and why it may actually work better for you.
It’s Cheaper and Versatile
Cake flour is generally more expensive than all-purpose flour. Considering that you may not be baking a white cake every other day, it may be wiser to buy all-purpose flour and cornstarch instead.
These two are staple ingredients in every kitchen and will make a beautiful cake flour whenever you need it.
Cake flour is used in baking a specific type of goods. All-purpose flour and cornstarch, on the other hand, serve many purposes in cooking.
Unless you bake with cake flour very frequently, buying a bag of regular flour and cornstarch is a wise choice.
While the shelf life of flour is up to 8 months, it is common knowledge that the fresher the flour the better the result.
If you are someone that doesn’t use cake flour that often, making a fresh flour mixture whenever you need to bake a cake is a better option.
You Know What Goes into It
Making a cake flour yourself means that you can choose not only the type of flour you want to use but also your favorite brand.
If you are a person that is keen on knowing what ingredients go into their food, coming up with flour to bake cakes with on your own is the way to go.
Cake flour contains less gluten than other types of flour. However, it is still not the best choice for those who have a gluten intolerance.
If you can make a cake flour mixture with gluten-free flour of your choice and some cornstarch, why not?
The Best Cake Flour Substitutes
If you don’t want to buy a bag of cake flour and let it sit in your pantry for months, here is what you can substitute it with:
|1.||King Arthur All-Purpose Unbleached Flour||Unbleached, fine|
|(King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour)||Unbleached, fine, GF|
|2.||Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached White Fine Pastry Flour||Unbleached, fine|
|3.||Montana Gluten-Free Toasted Oat Flour||Unbleached, semi-fine, GF|
We’ve got more information on how to use each of these below, so keep reading to learn all about these handy flour brands.
1. King Arthur All-Purpose Unbleached Flour
Who doesn’t need a high-quality all-purpose flour in their pantry? You can do anything with it, including coming up with a spot-on cake flour mix with the help of cornstarch.
King Arthur all-purpose flour checks all boxes when it comes to regular flour to be used in everyday cooking. Here’s why:
- It is ideal for cakes.
- It has 11.7% protein content which is not too high for all-purpose flour and makes it suitable to be used as a cake flour substitute.
How to Use: If you want to mimic the result of cake flour with all-purpose flour, you need to add cornstarch to it. The latter is used to add lightness to baked goods.
Put 2 tablespoons of cornstarch into the measuring cup (1 cup). Add all-purpose flour using a spoon until the measuring cup is full. Whisk the two ingredients together making sure that cornstarch is evenly distributed through the flour.
And for those who need a gluten-free option, King Arthur is still the way to go:
King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour
The King Arthur Gluten Free Flour is your best bet if you are baking for someone with gluten intolerance.
Not only it is gluten-free but it is also a 1 for 1 substitute for wheat flour.
Here is what makes this flour a good choice as an alternative to cake flour:
- It is ideal for cakes, muffins, and cookies.
- It is enriched with iron, vitamin B, and calcium.
- It is GMO-free.
How to Use: The King Arthur Gluten Free Flour is the easiest one to bake with as you don’t need to get involved in any tricky measurements
As this is a 1 for 1 substitute, you will simply need to use as much of this flour as the recipe calls for cake flour. Keep in mind that this may cause subtle changes in texture. However, it is the fact that it is gluten-free that matters more!
2. Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached White Fine Pastry Flour
The Bob’s Red Mill pastry flour is a perfect substitute for cake flour as it has a very low protein content – 8.5 to 9%.
It is also unbleached, which makes this flour a perfect substitute for those who want to avoid bleached cake flour.
Bob’s Red Mill pastry flour is a good option as it is:
- Finely milled.
- Enriched with nutrients that are lost during the preparation process.
- Good for cakes, muffins, biscuits, and much more.
How to Use: As pastry flour is very similar to cake flour in terms of texture and protein content, it can be used as a 1 for 1 substitute.
If you are using pasty flour with slightly higher protein content, the baked goods may turn out a little denser. But this can also be a good thing if you want to make a layered cake and need the layers to be sturdy.
3. Montana Gluten-Free Toasted Oat Flour
Montana oat flour is good to have at home as it is quite versatile. If you are someone that bakes all kind of goods, including bread, this flour is a perfect choice for you.
By adding a small amount of cornstarch, you will get a fresh cake flour mix that will result in delicate and airy cakes and muffins.
Here’s why Montana oat flour is good:
- There are no GMOs in this product.
- There is no bitterness to this flour as oats are toasted prior to being milled.
- It is a staple in gluten-free baking.
How to Use: To use oat flour instead of cake flour, you will need to add some cornstarch to it to reach the desired texture.
To do so, put one tablespoon of cornstarch into a measuring cup (1 cup). Fill the cup with oat flour until the cup is full. Whisk the ingredients together and sift to aerate the mixture.
Note: You can also use spelt flour instead of oat flour. Both are light and will make fluffy baked goods. There’s a good option from Bob’s Red Mill.
Tips For Making Cake Flour Mix
If it is your first time making your own cake flour mix, make sure to pay attention to details. When it comes to baking cakes or other delicate goods, every move is reflected in the texture of the final product.
Here are some tips to make your baking experience more successful.
Measure the Flour Correctly
When measuring flour, do not dig the cup into the flour bag. Doing this packs more product into the cup than necessary. This way you will end up with a heavier and denser cake, muffin, or whatever you are baking.
To get the right amount you need to fill the measuring cup with flour using a spoon. Once the cup is full, flatten the flour using a knife. Doing this will allow you to correctly measure the amount of flour you are putting in the cake.
Sift the Flour Properly
If you are making a flour mixture, make sure to sift the flour properly. If you don’t have a sifter use a strainer.
When making your own cake flour mixture, it is important to sift the flour a few times to not only mix the starch and the flour well but also aerate it. Pass the flour mixture through a sifter or strainer for 3 to 5 times for the best results.
As for pre-sifted cake flour, it is still recommended to sift it as the flour loses air and sets while it is sitting in the packaging.
Use Arrowroot Powder
Instead of using cornstarch for your DIY cake flour, you can use arrowroot powder. The latter is claimed to be healthier than cornstarch.
However, this substitution is for the experienced bakers.
Arrowroot powder in the flour mixture shortens the cooking time. It also affects the texture to a certain degree. The cake with arrowroot powder in it is moister than the ones baked with cornstarch.
Can You Make a Cake Flour Substitute without Cornstarch?
If you don’t have any cornstarch in your pantry or are not in the mood for measurements, you can take the easy route.
You can use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour on its own by simply reducing the amount of flour you use.
Because cake flour has a lighter texture, when using all-purpose flour instead, the amount of flour you put it the cake should be decreased to achieve a similar result.
Substitute one cup of cake flour with one cup less 2 tablespoons regular flour. Keep in mind that using all-purpose flour instead of cake flour without the addition of cornstarch will not work for such cakes as angel food cake.
These kinds of cakes need to be extremely delicate. Thus, using a proper cake flour mix to bake them is the way to go.
Can You Substitute Cake Flour with Safe-Rising Flour?
Self-rising flour is a common flour choice in cake-making. So you may wonder, can you substitute cake four with self-rising flour?
There is one major difference between cake flour and self-rising flour. The latter is essentially plain flour mixed with salt and baking powder.
These rising agents are typically absent in cake flour. However, it should be noted that some recipes call for baking powder or baking soda.
If we put aside the fact that baking powder and salt are in self-rising flour, these two types of flour are interchangeable in terms of texture. Baked goods with these flours turn out soft and tender as they are usually finely milled.
While you may not always be able to use self-rising flour instead of cake flour, you should be able to do the opposite. You can’t remove salt and baking powder from a flour but you can certainly add them to a mix.
To substitute self-rising flour with cake flour you will need to add 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder and half a teaspoon of salt to every cup of cake flour. This mix is equivalent to one cup of self-rising flour.
Up Next: The 5 Best Spelt Flour Substitutes