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How do I Use Cake Flour?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Cake flour can be a wonderful ingredient when used in the right recipes, or it can dramatically destroy the most delicious dish planned. It is very finely milled wheat flour that has a low protein content and low gluten levels. This makes it ideal for most cakes, as its name implies, but a poor choice for things like cookies. In other words, it’s debatable whether it is a good idea to substitute this flour in recipes that do not call for it, except perhaps cake recipes.

The simple answer to how a person uses cake flour is to use it in recipes where it is called for. These are typically cupcake or cake recipes. Since the flour can occasionally be lumpy, it’s a good idea to use a sifter and sift it before measuring, though bakers differ on whether this step is necessary. Sifting might provide more accurate measurements and result in a better cake or cupcake, but many bakers claim their results are delightful without it.

Some more cakelike cookie recipes may also work with cake flour. The average hard cookie like the classic tollhouse, peanut butter or snickerdoodle isn’t likely to benefit from using cake flour. In fact most bakers will notice a distinct difference when dough is mixed, and when cookies are formed they have a slippery or melting texture that makes things difficult. The end taste and texture are quite different too.

Cake flour is usually completely inappropriate for other baking needs, such as bread. Bread benefits from glutinous flour which helps make kneading possible. Given the low gluten content of most cake flours, their use in bread is not at all recommended. Choosing bread flours would be more likely to create better dough.

There are some suggestions that cake flour will substitute for all-purpose flour if an additional two tablespoons of flour are added per each cup. Cooks disagree on whether this suggestion is workable. Many find it’s simply easier to stick to the flour recommended by the recipe.

One suggestion that is interesting concerns how to create cake flour from all-purpose flour. A combination of two tablespoons of cornstarch and .75 cups of flour can substitute for one cup of cake flour. Sifting is recommended to produce the best blend.

Sweet treats naturally spring to mind when the talk turns to this fine flour, but there is at least one other common food that can be made with it. Many people swear by using cake flour in gravy because it dissolves quickly and is likely to produce fewer lumps than all-purpose flour. Again the low protein content and low gluten tends to help improve gravy recipes, though many people also get good results with all-purpose flour.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By baileybear — On Nov 09, 2010

@BelugaWhale - I am not sure where you can actually purchase it from, other than online or a store that specializes in baking materials. Although, you can easily look up substitutes for it online, which is what I do all the time whenever I don't have a certain ingredient. It is actually very helpful to find substitutes if you're required to use that particular item. I would suggest, though, to go ahead and find a place to purchase the cake flour for the very first try since you want to have a good experience with the whole baking and that substituting cake flour at this point isn't a good idea yet. Good luck with your baking and new recipe!

By BelugaWhale — On Nov 09, 2010

I use the Gold Medal bread flour whenever I make bread, but I have never heard of cake flour. In fact, I don't ever see it in the store. I actually looked up a recipe that dealt specifically with cake flour in order to try it out, but I'm not sure where I could get it from?

By leiliahrune — On Nov 09, 2010

@turtlez - Yes, cake flour isn't really found in more modern or recently developed recipes. And while you can substitute regular flour for cake flour, the article says it all: it might not turn out tasting the way you thought it would. Also, there are not many cookie recipes that call for cake flour either, so you can look forward to that.

By turtlez — On Nov 09, 2010

Plain cake flour is best used as described in the article above. It's true that you can taste the difference, but I don't see cake flour called for in many modern recipes which leads me to believe that it's quickly becoming a thing of the past. Am I right in assuming this?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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