I have a confession: I currently have no fewer than four different types of flour in my kitchen at the moment (white, wheat, rye, and buckwheat). Plus cornmeal, and then oats which can be made into oat flour. I’ve been known to have barley, graham, and multiple types of white and wheat flour on hand at any given time, too.
The one kind of flour I can’t seem to remember to buy, even though I know it has its place in the kitchen, is cake flour. My grandmother kept a box of Pillsbury Softasilk cake flour in her kitchen cabinet, but she also baked cakes frequently. I don’t, so in spite of my obsession with multiple types of flour, I can’t justify that purchase even when new recipes call for it.
That’s okay because it’s super easy to make at home instead of buying special from the grocery store. We’ll show you how to make homemade cake flour, and two ingredients are all you need.
Cake Flour and Its Uses
If you’re not familiar with cake flour, in short, it’s a low protein flour that makes for a light and airy cake. It’s the opposite end of the spectrum from great bread flour, in which you’re looking for a more solid structure.
Cake flour is useful for cakes like angel food cake, but you can also use it biscuits and pancakes and any other kind of baked good where you want a lighter texture.
Fun fact: Low protein flour sticks together, which is why so many older cake recipes call for sifting the flour with other ingredients as a first step.
How To Hack Your Own Cake Flour
You can make your own cake flour at home using two ingredients: regular all purpose white flour and cornstarch. The cornstarch replaces some of the protein content in the flour with a substance that gives the resulting baked good a finer and lighter texture since it develops less gluten from the lower protein in the flour. This also creates a fine crumb.
The cake flour substitute recipe is easy and nearly indistinguishable from store-bought cake flour using regular flour.
- For every one cup of all purpose flour, take out two tablespoons of the flour and replace it with two tablespoons of cornstarch.
You’ll want to sift the new cup of cake flour to make sure the AP flour and cornstarch are mixed well. You can’t just use a measuring cup and call it mixed, y’all. It’s important to remember, also, that self-rising flour (or self raising flour, if you fancy), is all-purpose flour with baking powder and salt added. While the two are similarly used in baking, they are for different purposes and are not interchangeable, even if it’s a chocolate cake recipe.
If you don’t have cornstarch, you can also use arrowroot powder (same ratio), but arrowroot changes baking time and texture, so if you try the DIY arrowroot method, keep an eye on the baking time. While cooking is more free-form with room for experimenting, it’s important to remember that baking recipes in particular rely on scientific reactions in the batter to create the perfect, pretty desserts.