All you need is two common ingredients to make an easy cake flour substitute! With just all-purpose flour and cornstarch, you’ll be back on track to baking the softest cakes and cupcakes.
How to Make a Cake Flour Substitute
The more you bake, the more you realize that when they say that cooking is an art, and baking is a science, they aren’t kidding! Even a simple change of ingredients can make all the difference. When it comes to the softest cakes and cupcakes, I’ve come to rely on cake flour for the tenderest results.
Every so often, though, my stock runs out. When that happens, I make this crazy-easy cake flour substitute. All it takes is two common ingredients: all-purpose flour and cornstarch.
What Is Cake Flour?
Cake flour is a low-protein flour that’s milled extra fine and contains about 5-8% protein. Meanwhile, all-purpose is slightly higher, at 10-12%. In baking, a higher protein content means more gluten development. Cake flour’s lower protein content means less gluten, for a softer, moist crumb and fluffier texture. Here’s a quick overview of the differences:
- Cake Flour: Low-protein, which means less gluten formation. This makes it a better choice for cakes and cupcakes, for example (see below for easy recipe ideas).
- All-Purpose Flour: All-purpose flour is medium-protein, with moderate gluten as a result. This makes it a real all-rounder, suitable for everything from chocolate chip cookies to pancakes.
- Bread Flour: Bread flour has a high protein content, which leads to more gluten formation. This makes it ideal for bread recipes with a harder texture, like a homemade baguette.
Cake Flour In Baking
You might be wondering, “What happens if I just use all-purpose instead of cake flour, and vice versa?” The good news is, for the most part, nothing terrible. Many people (myself included) occasionally use these flours interchangeably, without a cake turning into something from an episode of “Nailed It!” However, your baked goods won’t turn out as soft and delicate.
Of course, there are some exceptions. Chocolate cake, for example, tends to turn out overly tender and flimsy when made with cake flour. This is because it already contains cocoa powder, another finely milled ingredient. Another one is carrot cake and other recipes that contain added fruit and/or vegetables, like zucchini bread. The additional moisture from these wet ingredients calls for harder flour. In these recipes, it’s best to stick with all-purpose.
I typically use cake flour in recipes that call for a lighter crumb. This brings us to the even better news: all it takes is one ingredient to turn all-purpose into a cake flour substitute.
Let’s Turn All-Purpose Flour Into Cake Flour!
If you’ve already started on a recipe for fluffy cupcakes, only to find that your bag of fine flour is empty, never fear. It’s simple enough to make a quick, homemade substitute. To soften the proteins in all-purpose flour and make it more like cake flour, just add starch! In this case, cornstarch, to be exact. Here’s what you’ll need:
- All-purpose flour
- Whisk or fine mesh sifter
Making a cake flour substitute is so easy. All you do is fill 1 cup with all-purpose flour, scoop out 2 tablespoons, and replace it with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Give it a whisk or sift it in a bowl, and there you have it. Your flour is ready to use in all of your lightest and chewiest desserts. Scroll to the recipe card below the post for more details.
Tips for Success
Before you file this handy homemade substitute under “must-have baking hacks”, here are some final tips to keep in mind.
- Measure the flour correctly. This is key! If you don’t have a kitchen scale to weigh out your flour, I recommend using the spoon and sweep method. Spoon the flour from the bag into your 1-cup measure. Then, use the back of a knife to level it off. Whatever you do, please don’t scoop the flour right from the bag. You’ll wind up with way too much.
- Make sure you’re using cornstarch and not cornmeal. They are not the same thing!
- Can I make cake flour without cornstarch? Yes, you can use equal parts arrowroot powder in place of cornstarch to make this homemade substitute.
How to Store
It’s important to store flour in a cool, dry place away from sunlight (like a pantry). If you live in a warmer climate, or if you’re keeping flour for longer than one year, store it in the freezer! The flour will keep fresh in the freezer for up to 2 years.
12 Cake Flour Recipes
This substitute works like a charm! Put it to the test with these easy recipes for soft and moist cakes, cupcakes, and more.
Learn how to make an easy cake flour substitute with just two ingredients! All you need is all-purpose flour and cornstarch, and you’ll be back on track to baking the softest cakes and cupcakes.
- 14 tablespoons all-purpose flour (1 cup minus 2 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Add the flour and cornstarch into a large bowl. Whisk together to combine.
- Instead of measuring 14 tablespoons of flour, you can simply measure one cup of flour and remove two tablespoons.
Keywords: how to make cake flour, cake flour substitute, cake flour recipes
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