What Is Cake Flour?
What is cake flour? I’m answering all your questions here! Learn why this ingredient is often called for, what it is, where to get it, & how it’s used.
I have a lot of cake and cupcake recipes on this site, and so many of them call for cake flour!
I’ve been using this ingredient in my cakes and cupcakes since way before I ever even started this website. If you’ve tried any of my cake recipes, then you’ve probably heard me explain why.
It’s one of the number one questions I get asked by readers! So I thought it was about time to break it down and explain it in a post.
What is cake flour?
Cake flour is flour that is very finely milled from soft winter wheat.
It has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour and is finer, lighter, and softer.
It’s also bleached, so the color is paler, and the grain is less dense.
Cake Flour vs. All-Purpose Flour: What’s the difference?
The main difference is the lower protein content, which produces less gluten.
You know when you’re making bread, and it gets that chewy, elastic texture to it? So yummy, right?
Well, it’s good when you’re talking about yeast breads, but not so good when you’re talking about cakes.
So, what type of flour is best for cakes?
We want light, soft, and tender cakes, with a fine, close crumb. And that is exactly what you will get if you use low protein flour.
The first time I baked a cake with cake flour, I was astonished. It sounds silly, but it was life-changing for me.
I could not get over the difference it made in that cake!
Ever since then, I swear by it! I’m always sure to keep a box in my pantry.
I mean, if you’re going to the trouble of baking a cake from scratch, wouldn’t you want the final product to be the best it can possibly be?
Where do you get cake flour?
It’s is pretty easy to find here in the US. I’ve never been to a grocery store that doesn’t carry it.
It’s in the baking aisle in the same general area as all-purpose flour.
There are all sorts of flours: bleached all-purpose, unbleached all-purpose, bread flour, pastry flour, whole wheat flour… the list goes on and on. This is just another one of those, unique in its purpose, and it can be found right alongside all the others.
It can also be ordered online! Here’s a link to purchase it: Cake Flour.
If you do not live in the US, you might have more difficulty finding this ingredient.
As far as I know, there is nothing quite the same available in Europe.
It’s is NOT “self-raising flour,” and it is NOT “sponge flour.”
The closest thing would probably be “plain flour,” sifted with a bit of cornstarch (see “Cake Flour Substitute” below).
Can I use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour?
If a recipe calls for a specific ingredient, it’s best to use it.
In a pinch, yes you can substitute all-purpose flour. But if you want to bake like a boss, I’d highly recommend keeping a box of this magic in your pantry.
If you use all-purpose flour, you will notice that your cakes and cupcakes will have more of an open crumb. In other words, there will be bigger pockets of air within the cake.
The final result will also be a little more dense and chewy.
I prefer the light, soft texture of cakes baked with a lower protein flour.
Homemade Cake Flour Recipe
If you’re still unconvinced, or live in a part of the world where it’s unavailable, you can create your own cake flour substitute.
Cornstarch is another type of starch but it has very little protein, which will help lighten the all-purpose flour.
Depending upon where you are in the world, it may go by the name “corn flour.”
It is white and powdery. It is NOT cornmeal, which is usually yellow and gritty.
This will yield a fluffier texture.
Step 1: Measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Remove 2 tablespoons of the flour.
Step 2: Sift the regular flour and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch together.
Step 3: Measure by weight or lightly spoon into a measuring cup, then level off. NEVER pack flour into a measuring cup! More info on that here: How to Measure Ingredients for Baking.
This will result in something similar to one cup of cake flour.
With that said, bear in mind that this substitution is not exactly the same thing as cake flour, so the results will be better but not identical to the low-protein flour.
Most recipes here on Baking a Moment are measured by cups and teaspoons because that’s how most of my readers bake. But if you prefer to measure your ingredients by weight, check out my free printable Weight Conversion Chart.
Is cake flour gluten-free?
No, cake flour is not gluten-free.
Cake flour falls under the category of wheat flours. Although it does produce less gluten than all-purpose flour, it’s still not recommended for people with gluten intolerance.
What can I use cake flour for?
Cake flour is great for cakes. But what if you don’t bake many cakes and want to use up what you have left over?
Good news! Cake flour is excellent in all kinds of recipes. Anytime you’re baking something that wants to be airy and delicate, cake flour is a great option.
Follow me on Pinterest for tons of great recipe ideas!
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Homemade Cake Flour
- Measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour using the spoon and level method.
- Remove 2 tablespoons of the flour.
- Add the flour to the sifter, along with the cornstarch.
- Sift the flour and cornstarch together into a large bowl.
- Measure by weight or lightly spoon into a measuring cup and then level off. NEVER pack flour into a measuring cup!
- This substitution is not exactly the same thing as cake flour, so the results will be better but not identical.
- If weighing your ingredients use 110 grams of all-purpose flour, and 10 grams of cornstarch.