Cake Flour

Cake flour isn’t just a very low-protein (gluten) version of all-purpose flour, it’s actually made from a completely different species of wheat known as club wheat. The wheat is cracked, sifted and very finely milled to an almost talcum powder-like consistency, making it quite light by volume (about half an ounce less per cup than all-purpose flour).

Of course cake flour is usually quite heavily bleached. That obviously what’s responsible for the whiteness of cake flour, though the bleaching also imparts some other very important characteristics. For one, it helps make the starch granules more absorbent (especially in very sugary batters), increasing their ability to form the gels that hold a cake layer up. Bleaching also helps fat molecules adhere more readily to starch granule surfaces, resulting in better fat distribution. The cumulative effect is lightness, sweetness, richness and tenderness…all the attributes one seeks in a good cake.

One side effect of the heavy bleaching that some people notice is a slightly acrid smell or sour taste. The reason for that is a trace amount of hydrochloric acid that the processing leaves behind.

Given what cake flour is made from and how it’s treated, a concocted equivalent is by no means ideal. However you can approximate one cup of cake flour in the following way: start with one cup of all purpose flour, subtract two tablespoons, and replace them with corn starch (corn flour).

6 thoughts on “Cake Flour”

  1. Hi Joe, g’day from DownUnder. Wondering if you can help me conquer the problem we here have with cake flour, more accurately, lack of cake flour. We have a flour called cake flour, it is lower protein, but it is not chlorinated so does not behave like US cake flour works in recipes. I have tried substituting 2 tbsp cornstarch which is often advised but was not happy with that result either and the pound cake tasted, well, cornstarchy.

    Problem is that I have used US cake flour in recipes (I imported some to see for myself-just call me Sheldon) and now I know what beautiful cakes it makes, particularly bundts, nothing but that texture will satisfy me now. Here is my question – I have read somewhere that substituting potato starch and an extra egg yolk may be better. What say you??? Should I just stop dreaming about all those beautiful US recipes for pound cakes and hang up my bundt pans. Incidentally, I have made many US recipes that call for your all purpose flour, and not cake flour, but they just don’t have that fine texture that the cake flour delivers. Sigh.
    Kind Regards.

    1. Hey Sweets!

      I totally understand the frustration. My suggestion would be to start experimenting with some different starches as you’re already thinking about doing. You can try some potato flour, tapioca flour, even agar or arrowroot, any of them will serve the purpose of adding structure without gluten. The egg yolk is an interesting idea, though I’d start with the starches first and see where that takes you. Don’t give up…there’s a solution out there!

      Get back to me with your results,

      – Joe

      1. Thank you Joe, sorry to take so long to thank you for your response, fact is I couldn’t find where I had actually asked the question to check for a reply (Duh!!). I will do as you suggest and start with the starch. This will be a fairly long and time consuming project but I will definitely report back with results – positive or otherwise. Cheers.

  2. Sweets, there’s a fellow Australian who claims to have solved the problem by heating her flour in the microwave. It’s a tedious process but misc folks have vouched she ends up with flour that performs like bleached cake flour. She now sells the prepared four too. I forget her name, but hopefully you can google it.

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