Bakers use cake flour in delicate cakes, cookies and pastries. The starchiness of cake flour makes baked goods light and crumbly without falling apart. You can't use cake flour and regular wheat flour interchangeably for most recipes. Wheat flour has a higher protein content that might make your cakes too tough. In a pinch, make a suitable alternative to cake flour by using a reduced amount of all-purpose flour or combining it with cornstarch.
All Purpose Flour and Cornstarch
Combine cornstarch with all-purpose flour to create a reliable homemade alternative to cake flour. To replace one cup of cake flour in a recipe, mix 2 tbsp. of cornstarch with 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour. Make sure to sift this homemade substitution with the rest of your dry ingredients to remove lumps and distribute the starch throughout the recipe. The cornstarch adds starchiness to the flour that should give a tender, crumbly texture to your baked good similar to the texture yielded by cake flour.
If you must substitute all-purpose flour for cake flour in a recipe, reduce the amount of total flour in the recipe. As a general rule, subtract 2 tbsp. of flour for every 1 cup of cake flour called for in the recipe. Since all-purpose flour consists of about 11 percent protein compared to cake flour's 7 percent, reducing the flour will reduce the amount of protein in the recipe. Avoid this substitution in desserts, such as angel food cake, that rely on lightness for their structure.
All-Purpose Flour and Arrowroot Powder
If you have a corn allergy or other aversion to using cornstarch, you can easily replace cake flour with a mixture of all-purpose flour and arrowroot powder. Thought to help sooth stomach aches, arrowroot powder has a bland flavor that easily blends in to cakes, cookies and desserts. Chefs use arrowroot to thicken sauces and puddings and, like cornstarch, its high starch content makes it a suitable addition to all purpose flour when replacing cake flour in a recipe. For every 1 cup of cake flour called for, use 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. of arrowroot powder for every 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
Consisting of about 9 percent protein, pastry flour contains a lower percentage of protein than all-purpose flour, but more than cake flour. While cake flour is bleached to remove more protein, manufacturers leave pastry flour unbleached. Use pastry flour as an alternative to cake flour by reducing the total amount of flour in the recipe by about 1 tbsp. per cup. Pastry flour makes an excellent substitution for cake flour in muffins and cookies with a low ratio of sugar and liquid to flour.
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