You’re ready to bake, but of course the recipe calls for cake flour, aaand you don’t have any…what even is cake flour?! Don’t run to the store just yet! Read on to save time & money with this DIY Cake Flour Hack!

Glass canisters of cake flour
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There are so many types of flour. They can’t be that different. Can’t I just use all-purpose? Or self-rising?

I’m so glad you asked! No.

The primary difference between different flours is their protein content and therefore their gluten content. The protein and gluten content of the flour lend structure to baked goods, making them either softer and more tender, or stronger and chewier.

Here is a handy in-depth review of each type of flour, it’s notable properties, and uses provided by Food Network.

Lots of cake recipes call specifically for cake flour, which creates that light and delicate, moist crumb that makes cake… well… cakey! For example, in My BEST Vanilla Cake Recipe, cake-flour is an absolute must to achieve the desired tender, velvety crumb.

However, some cake recipes do call for a different flour, usually all-purpose, to provide a sturdier and stronger structure to the cake. These are usually more dense cakes, such as spice, carrot, and chocolate.

So what makes cake flour different from the rest?

As I previously mentioned, the primary difference between types of flour is their protein and gluten content. Cake flour has the lowest protein content of all flour, about 5-8%, and higher starch (more on the starch in a sec). Manufactured cake flour actually goes through an additional chlorination process which creates it’s light and airy texture, in turn creating lighter and airier cakes.

Cake flour also has a higher starch content than other flours. This means it can hold more liquid than other flours, lending to the moistness of the cake.

What if I rebel and use all-purpose instead of cake flour?

Mon Dieu! Comment osez-vous ! Just kidding. It’s not a big deal. Kinda. It depends.

Okay so swapping all-purpose flour is actually step one of this handy little DIY flour hack that I’m about to get to! But if you absolutely don’t have time for my super simple DIY cake flour (and if you don’t, like why are you even baking a cake right now? Go do what you should be doing instead and bake later!) all-purpose flour substitution will be OK in most cakes.

BUTbig but— the end result will be different than the original recipe writer intended, and you need to understand that.

Say the author touts a velvety delicate crumb *ahem* like in My BEST Vanilla Cake Recipe, and you use all-purpose rather than cake flour, you will still get a tasty cake! It just may be a bit drier, chewier, or more dense.

What if I use self-rising flour?

Just don’t.

Unless a recipe calls for self-rising flour DO NOT USE SELF RISING FLOUR.

In addition to the protein and gluten content, what makes self-rising flour different is the addition of raising agents, usually baking powder and salt. Meaning, if you use self-rising flour, and don’t account for the already present leavening agents, and then continue to add additional baking powder or baking soda as caked for by the recipe, you’re probably going to be very smad (sad + mad) in about 30 minutes when your cake overflows in the oven, caves in, or explodes.

I’ve never seen a cake explode, but it sounds terrible

High Altitude Adjustments

The exception for this would be substituting all-purpose flour for the sake of altitude adjustments.

Baking at any altitude higher than 3000′ is really a very curious thing. And by curious, I mean absolutely maddening. Depending on the recipe and suggested adjustments, the cake may not hold up in a higher altitude with cake-flour. This is due to the rapid expansion and accelerated rising of baked goods at higher altitude where the air pressure is greater.

As cakes and breads and baked goods expand and rise more quickly in the oven, they need a stronger structure for support. Cake flour sometimes just won’t fit the bill, depending on the recipe, and unfortunately there’s no magic formula to determine if you should substitute your flour until you try (or read the comments and see if any other brave souls have gone before you!).

I can say from experience that My BEST Vanilla Cake Recipe holds up beautifully with cake flour up to 6000′. Up to 6000′ I do not suggest swapping for any other flour. I’ve tested with all-purpose, and it was just too dense.

Beyond 6000′ I’m really not sure. But if you live above 6000′ and you try my recipe, I would LOVE to know! Email me or comment below!

I have those notes + additional altitude adjustments listed in My BEST Vanilla Cake Guide!!! Click here and it’s yours for FREE!

Alright, I get it. Whaddo I gotta do?

Ah, yes. The formula. Are you ready for it?!

DIY Cake Flour Hack

For every 1 Cup (120g) of All-Purpose flour, swap out two Tablespoons of flour for two Tablespoons of corn starch.
Whisk together & sift.
The sifting is very important to make sure it’s well incorporated + fluffy!

Just a friendly reminder that truly the best way to accurately measure your dry ingredients is by using a food scale. They are inexpensive, and this simple tool will improve your baking exponentially!

Voila! That’s it!

There you have it! The DIY Cake Flour Hack!

I use cake flour often, so I like to make a large batch ahead of time just to cut the extra step when it’s time to actually bake. If you do this just be sure to store it in an air tight container.

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