Homemade Pastry Flour

You’re in a mood for some chocolate chip cookies and you happen to have a great recipe. They are so easy to make and so tasty.

It looks like you have all ingredients at home. You already mixed the eggs with sugar, added butter and now, you need some pastry flour. Oh, gosh. Looks like you’re out of pastry flour again.

It happens to all of us. We usually make supplies of all-purpose flour because it’s so universal, but forget to buy the less frequently used flours, such as pastry and cake flour.

If this is the case, don’t be upset because we have a solution to your problem. With a few simple steps, you can make homemade pastry flour. You won’t need a water mill for this project. Let us take you through the process of making pastry flour step by step.

What is Pastry Flour

If you want to make tasty muffins or chewy cookies, bread flour will be too heavy and too strong for this assignment. You’ll need pastry flour.

Pastry flour has a low protein level (8-9%) and it’s designed for more delicate pastries. Whenever you want to get a tender, crumbly, light or flaky texture, use this kind of flour and you’ll get the best results.

Pastry flour is milled from soft white wheat that contains less protein than other types of wheat. Protein amount is important because it directly impacts gluten development. More gluten equals more elasticity and a stronger dough, which is great when you’re making bread, but not so much if you want tender cookies.

Pastry flour is usually used with leavening agents – baking powder or baking soda (not yeast!).

This type of flour comes in two versions: bleached and unbleached. Bleached pastry flour is made with chemicals that cause a brighter white color, finer grain, and softer texture. Unbleached pastry flour is a bit darker (it usually has off-white color), is thicker, and has a tougher texture.

If you’re shopping for some pastry flour and see the label “fine pastry flour” or “whole wheat pastry flour” don’t be confused – it’s the one you’re looking for.

What Can You Make From Pastry Flour?

Pastry flour is designed for tender and light pastries and all baked goods that do not require a lot of gluten to hold them together. It’s great for cookies and scones, but it will also make a magnificent pie crust. Pastry flour is used in many classic desserts recipes, such as biscuits, muffins, cinnamon rolls, and all sorts of pancakes.

If you find that your pastries are not as moist and tender as you’d like and you’re using all-purpose flour to make them, the reason could be the high gluten content in your all-purpose flour. Pastry flour is lower in gluten, hence, the most suitable for these desserts.

Tip: Although pastry flour is versatile when it comes to desserts, we wouldn’t recommend using it for any kind of dough made with yeast – bread dough, for example. These kinds of dough require a bigger protein amount due to gluten development, which ensures better rise and stronger structure of the dough.

How Can You Make Pastry Flour at Home?

As mentioned earlier, if you’re out of pastry flour and forgot to buy it, we have tips and tricks on how to make it at home.

The easiest way to make pastry flour at home is to mix all-purpose flour with cake flour. The ratio is 1 part of cake flour and 2 parts of all-purpose flour. You can increase the amount of cake flour and reduce the amount of all-purpose flour. This way you will reduce the amount of gluten.

To get two cups (180 grams) of pastry flour you’ll need 1 ⅓ cup (120 grams) of all-purpose flour and  ⅔ cups (60 grams) of cake flour. Mix them in a bowl and stir them using a whisk. Your pastry flour is ready to use (or you can store it in an airtight container for later usage).

If you bake on a regular basis, you can make a bigger amount of pastry flour by combining 1 pound of cake flour with 2 pounds of all-purpose flour. You’ll get 3 pounds of perfectly good pastry flour.

The best substitute for pastry flour is cake flour because it contains a similar amount of protein. You can also mix cake flour with all-purpose flour but in a 1:1 ratio. For every cup of pastry flour you need, combine ½ cup of cake flour and ½ cup of all-purpose flour.

If you’re out of cake flour too, don’t worry – you can use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch for every ⅞  cup of all-purpose flour.

Keep in mind that if you’re substituting clean all-purpose flour for pastry flour the results won’t be quite the same. Baked goods could be a bit more dense or tough, due to higher protein content in all-purpose flour.

Tip: When combining two types of flour, always mix them well with a fork, whisk or spatula.

Substitute For Pastry Flour

As mentioned, if you’re out of pastry flour, you can use a mixture of cake flour and all-purpose flour or combine cornstarch with all-purpose flour. 

These are exact amounts you’ll need:

All-purpose flour and cake flourRatio 1:11 cup of all-purpose flour mix with 1 cup of cake flour
All-purpose flour and cake flour Ratio 2:12 cups of all-purpose flour mix with 1 cup of cake flour
All-purpose flour and cornstarch⅞ all-purpose flour mix with ⅛ (two tablespoons) cornstarch

Tip: Don’t forget to mix the flours well before kneading!

Can You Mix Pastry Flour With Other Flours?

Yes, you can, as long as both types of flour are safe (haven’t passed their expiry date).

If you mix bread flour with pastry flour, you’ll get a protein mix that’s closest to all-purpose flour.

Pastry flour can replace all-purpose flour in a 1:1 ratio. If you mix them together, you’ll get a bit lower protein level than in all-purpose flour, but still good to go. 

Pastry flour mixed with cake flour will have the lowest amount of protein. Use it for light desserts that don’t require strength and solid structure, such as delicate cakes and pastries.

Best Way to Store Pastry Flour

Most flours (all-purpose, cake and pastry flour) will be just fine in an airtight container. Airtight containers will keep the air, dirt and bugs far away from your flour. Airtight containers will also keep smells away, and that’s important because flour can absorb odors. Keep it in a cold and dark place and your pastry flour will have a shelf life of about a year.

If you don’t have an airtight container, a plastic bag with a ziplock will do. Make sure it’s properly closed and store it in a cold and dark place.

If you have a bigger amount of pastry flour or you don’t bake often, you can freeze your pastry flour for two years. Put it in a container or plastic bag, close it well and put it in a freezer. Plastic or glass containers or a plastic bag will keep odors and liquid away from your flour.

Tip: When using frozen pastry flour, make sure it’s at room temperature before you start baking. For best results, all the ingredients from a recipe should be at room temperature.