You only need two common ingredients- all-purpose flour and cornstarch- to make a homemade cake flour substitute. Sifting them together is key. Use this mixture whenever a recipe calls for cake flour.
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As my baking experience grows, I use cake flour more and more in my baking. There’s no denying that cake flour produces the softest, most tender cakes and cupcakes. I try to keep my kitchen stocked with this crucial ingredient, but sometimes I quickly run out when I’m recipe testing. So in a pinch, I make this super easy cake flour substitute.
Let’s back up for a minute though.
What is Cake Flour?
Cake flour is a low protein flour that’s milled into a fine consistency. It contains about 7-9% protein, while all-purpose flour, a harder flour, has anywhere between 10-12%. What does this mean for baking? You see, protein content is directly related to gluten formation. Cake flour’s lower protein means less gluten is formed as you mix the batter together. Less gluten formation equates to a softer, fluffier texture.
Bread flour has a high protein content, which means more gluten forms during the mixing process. Super basic breakdown:
- Cake flour = low protein = less gluten = softest texture = great for vanilla cake
- All-purpose flour = medium protein = moderate gluten = suitable for anything
- Bread flour = high protein = more gluten formation = hardest texture = great for bread
What Does That Mean for Baking?
Cake flour’s soft, tender texture directly translates into your baked good.
However, some recipes simply can’t withstand fine cake flour. Chocolate cake, for example, already has cocoa powder— which is a VERY fine dry ingredient. The combination of cake flour and cocoa powder usually results in a flimsy cake. Additionally, carrot cake and banana cake contain additional wet ingredients (the fruits or veggies), so cake flour isn’t really ideal. You need a stronger flour like all-purpose flour.
I stick to cake flour when making vanilla cake, white cake, pineapple upside-down cake, red velvet cake, and other cakes where a fluffy texture is favorable. I’ve been successful substituting cake flour for all-purpose flour to create a softer funfetti cake. Make a 1:1 substitution with no other changes to the recipe.
How to Make a Homemade Cake Flour Substitute
Step 1: Measure 1 cup all-purpose flour. Remove 2 Tablespoons.
Step 2: Measure 2 Tablespoons cornstarch. Add to the flour. Cornstarch contains less gluten than flour, so it’s a wonderful tenderizing ingredient to help make cake flour.
Step 3: Sift together TWICE. Basically, sift into a mixing bowl once. Then run it through the sifter one more time. Sifting not only mixes the two ingredients together appropriately, it aerates the mixture so the consistency is similar to real cake flour.
Step 4: Measure 1 cup from this mixture. You’ll have about 1 cup anyway, but sometimes sifting can produce more volume since it’s adding air.
Items You Need
- All-Purpose Flour
- Sifter/fine mesh sieve
- 1 cup measuring cup
- 1/8 cup measuring cup or a Tablespoon (1/8 cup = 2 Tablespoons)
PS: Here’s the flour canister pictured above. I use these for my flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and confectioners’ sugar. They’re awesome!
If you’re purchasing cake flour, though, I’m happy to share my favorite brands. I love Swans Down and Softasilk. (Not working with either, just a genuine fan!) I use unbleached when I can find it, otherwise I just stick with bleached. Both brands provide quality results for a good price. You can find cake flour in the baking aisle next to the all-purpose flour.