Read this before you make a run to the store.

By Hannah Klinger
September 20, 2020
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You're finally ready to bake that special occasion cake (or that don't-really-need-a-reason cake) when you notice the ingredient list calls for cake flour. Sigh, that's the one pantry item you haven't stocked.

Is cake flour really that different from all-purpose flour? Do you really need to buy it before you can bake? The short answers are yes and no. Yes, cake flour gives cakes a fluffier, more tender texture than all-purpose flour. No, you don't need to buy it: You can easily make cake flour at home with ingredients you already have on hand.

What Is Cake Flour?

Cake flour is a very fine-textured flour with a low protein content (about seven to nine percent compared to all-purpose flour, which has 10 to 12 percent protein). It also has less protein than pastry or Wondra flour. This means less gluten develops when combined with liquid, resulting in a light, soft cake.

It's best to use cake flour for simply flavored cakes where texture is key, like this Heavenly White Cake or confetti cake. Stick to all-purpose flour for rich chocolate cakes and dense, "wet" cakes like banana or carrot; these need the higher protein content for structure.

How To Make Cake Flour

This simple recipe for cake flour yields about one cup of flour. If you want to make a larger quantity than that, you can either scale up the recipe or refer to this Cake Flour Mix recipe from recipe creator Jessica Daulton.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Instructions:

  1. Measure out 1 cup of all-purpose flour.
  2. Remove 2 tablespoons flour from the cup, then add 2 tablespoons cornstarch.
  3. Sift the flour and cornstarch together through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl, then sift again into a second bowl. The double sift combines the two ingredients especially well, removes any lumps, and incorporates air into the mixture.

Because you've added air, your yield for this cake flour may be slightly more than 1 cup, so be sure to measure before baking. Store in an airtight container for about two months.

How to Use Cake Flour

Rememberm unlike self-rising flour, cake flour has no rising agent, so be sure not to leave out the baking soda or powder from your recipe. Unlike Wondra flour, cake flour has not been par-cooked, so it is not safe to eat raw.

Ready to bake? Use your homemade cake flour in this stunning Chiffon Cake or in this classic Angel Food Cake I. You can also try fan favorites like David's Yellow Cake (over 1,000 five-star reviews!) or this moist Cream Cheese Pound Cake I.

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