Homemade strawberry cake sounds like a perfect dessert on a hot summer day. It has a light and refreshing taste, it’s not overly sweet. On top of all that- it is pink!
If you want to make a strawberry cake – or any other cake – you’ll need cake flour. Cake flour is a secret ingredient that will give your cakes a nice, delicate structure.
If you don’t bake cakes often or you’re just currently out of cake flour, you can make it on your own. Homemade cake flour is as good as the one you buy in the baking aisle in your local store.
What is Cake Flour?
Cake flour is a low protein flour. It contains only 7-9% (some would say 5-8%) of protein. This type of flour is finely milled and has a tender and soft texture, while other flours, such as bread flour or all-purpose flour, have a lot harder consistency.
Why is protein level important for baking?
The amount of protein is directly responsible for gluten development. More protein in your flour means increased gluten formation. When you mix your cake flour with other ingredients less gluten will form. You won’t get a strong, elastic dough but a soft and fluffy texture and light and airy baked goods.
Cake flour is usually bleached, but it can also be unbleached. Flour bleaching is a process that gives the flour a bright white color, weakens proteins, and increases the ability of absorption of liquid and sugar. That process ensures your cake will have bright colors and light and moist texture.
Cake flour doesn’t contain raising agents so you’ll have to use baking soda or baking powder when making desserts with it. If you’re making a cake from all-purpose flour and cornstarch, keep in mind that cornstarch is not a rising agent.
Cake flour is also called extra fine or superfine flour.
What Can You Make From Cake Flour?
One could think that cake flour is a great choice for all sorts of cakes, but that’s not really true. The choice of flour depends on the type of cake you are making.
For example, if you’re making a cake with cherries or bananas (or any other fruit), you’re adding wet ingredients and cake flour cannot support them. You’ll need stronger flour (but not too strong) – all-purpose flour.
If you’re mixing cake flour with cocoa powder, for a great nougat or chocolate cake, keep in mind that both of these ingredients are finely milled and your cake could turn out too thin.
Cake flour is suitable for strawberry cake, vanilla cake, the all-time favorite red velvet cake, and all desserts that have a light and fluffy texture. You can use it when you’re making biscuits, muffins, scones, and cupcakes.
Tip: Fine texture of the cake flour makes it inadequate for making bread or pizza dough. Such a dough requires a high content of protein that cake flour lacks. Gluten won’t rise and develop properly and as a result, you’ll get a dense and flat loaf of bread.
How Can You Make Cake Flour at Home?
Making cake flour at home is a piece of cake (pun intended). You’ll need some all-purpose flour and cornstarch and with just a few simple steps, you’ll have your own homemade cake flour.
Step 1. Take a cup (128 grams or 4.5 oz) of all-purpose flour and remove two tablespoons of flour from the cup.
Step 2. Add two tablespoons (⅛ of a cup or 16 grams) of cornstarch. Cornstarch contains less gluten than all the flours and it will give tenderness to all-purpose flour.
Step 3. Mix all-purpose flour and cornstarch using a whisk. After mixing, sift it. We recommend double sift so that ingredients can mix properly. Also, sifting will aerate your flour and it will have a consistency similar to real cake flour. You’ll get a cup of cake flour from this mixture.
You can make cake flour by adding arrowroot to all-purpose flour. Amounts are the same – measure one cup of all-purpose flour and take out two tablespoons. Add two tablespoons of arrowroot and mix them together.
For better results, sift them together. Keep in mind that cornstarch and arrowroot are not the same, even though many think they are. Arrowroot will cause your cake to bake more quickly and the cake will be moister, compared to the same cake made with cornstarch.
Pastry flour is somewhere between all-purpose flour and cake flour. If your recipe calls for cake flour and you have neither cake flour nor all-purpose flour to make a substitute, you can use pastry flour as an alternative.
You can also use self-rising flour as a substitute for cake flour. Self-rising flour has a low protein content and it’s a mixture of all-purpose flour, a rising agent, and some salt. Keeping that in mind, don’t add too much rising agent to your cake and measure all the other ingredients properly.
Tip: If you don’t have a measuring cup, you can measure all-purpose flour with a tablespoon. 16 tablespoons of flour equal one cup.
Substitute for Cake Flour
To get cake flour, you can combine all-purpose flour with cornstarch or arrowroot, or you can use pastry flour or self-rising flour, as well.
Here are exact amounts for these substitutes:
|All-purpose flour and cornstarch||Take 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Remove two tablespoons of flour and add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift!|
|All-purpose flour and arrowroot||Take 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Remove two tablespoons of flour and add 2 tablespoons of arrowroot. Sift!|
|Pastry flour||1 cup of pastry flour is a substitute for 1 cup of cake flour|
|Self-rising flour||1 cup of self-rising flour is a substitute for 1 cup of cake flour|
Tip: Don’t forget to double sift if you’re mixing all-purpose flour with cornstarch or arrowroot.
Can You Mix Cake Flour With Other Flours?
Yes, you can. Mixing cake flour with other types of flour will lower the protein level in those types of flour.
- If you mix cake flour and bread flour you’ll get almost the same consistency as all-purpose flour. This mixture will be a perfect substitute for all-purpose flour.
- Cake and pastry flour are both low in protein level. Mixing them together will give you finely milled flour perfect for delicate desserts that don’t require strength and strong structure.
- Mixing cake flour with all-purpose flour will make a great substitute for pastry flour. You can mix them in a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio for the best results.
Tip: When mixing two types of flour, don’t forget to sift them to combine them well and aerate the mixture.
Best Way to Store Cake Flour
Most people find that it’s easier to store flour in the pantry. You can store flour in your pantry if it’s a cool and dark place. Avoid keeping flour in warm and sunny spaces. Also, we wouldn’t recommend keeping flour in a paper bag. It can easily pick up moisture and small bugs could get inside of the bag.
Keep your flour in a plastic or glass airtight container or plastic bag with a ziplock. This way, the flour will preserve its quality for a long time. When you put it in an airtight container you can store it in your pantry or freeze it in your freezer.
Flour stored in a cool dark place has a shelf life of about a year but if you put it in the freezer, you can save it for two years.