What is cake flour? Cake flour is a low protein white flour made from wheat. Its fine texture makes it ideal for delicate cake baking. Unlike many other brands, our Super-Fine Cake Flour is simply highly sifted, finely ground wheat flour. Some brands add cornstarch to dilute otherwise high protein wheat flour (we call this a cheap trick around here). Instead of finding a low protein wheat, other manufacturers use the same high protein wheat and cut it with cornstarch. Our cake flour has not been bleached, another common practice among flour purveyors. While bleaching can help create perfectly white cakes and aid in the baking of a cake, our test kitchen produced stellar (and oh-so-delicious) white cakes. At Bob’s Red Mill, we think baking with chemically treated flours cut with cornstarch is a little yucky. No, thank you.
How is it different from all purpose flour? Cake flour is finer and contains less protein than all purpose flour. All purpose flour is designed to be just that- all purpose. All purpose flour is designed to make fine cakes and chewy breads. Cake flour is made with cake baking specifically in mind. It creates a lighter crumb that is perfect for delicate treats, soft cookies and airy cakes.
Why does protein matter? Protein in wheat flour (aka gluten) gives baked goods structure and elasticity. For chewy breads and pizza crusts, you want to use a higher protein flour. Things like cakes and pie crusts need less elasticity, making cake flour an ideal choice.
Gluten is sticky and stretchy (think of a balloon). When leavening reacts and produces gasses in your baked good, gluten creates pockets that expand around these gasses, causing your baked good to rise. More gluten and high-power leavening (yeast) will make beautiful artisan breads with lovely air pockets. Less gluten and tamer leavening (baking soda, baking powder), make smaller bubbles and smaller air pockets. With a cake, you want tiny air pockets so that your cake melts in your mouth and doesn’t fall to bits.
Why would you use cake flour over all purpose flour? Because you can. When you want to make the most beautiful and delicious cake for a special occasion, why wouldn’t you want to use special ingredients? After all, a baked good is just another way of saying “I love you.” In all seriousness, though, cake flour produces a tender, more tightly packed crumb. It can be used for so much more than cakes, as well. It makes lovely cookies, delicate pie crusts and gorgeous pastries.
Is cake flour gluten free? Nope. It’s made from wheat. Even if it has less protein than other wheat flours, it’s still got plenty of gluten.
Is Bob’s Red Mill cake flour organic? No.
Is Bob’s Red Mill cake flour enriched? Yes. Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Cake Flour is enriched to government standards with niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin and folic acid.
Is cake flour whole grain? Absolutely not.
Is there a substitute for cake flour? Yes, while it’s not perfect, you can do what so many of us have done in a pinch- make your own. For every cup of all purpose flour, replace 1/8th of the flour with cornstarch. Blend together and sift, sift, sift. Joy the Baker has some good tips here.
Some of our favorite ways to enjoy cake flour:
- Angel Food Cake with Strawberries from Joy the Baker
- Strawberry Doughnut Cake from Willow Bird Baking
- Elvis Presley’s Favorite Pound Cake from Epicurious
- Martha Stewart’s Marble Cake
- Coconut Boston Cream Pie from Simply Delicious
- Big Crumb Coffee Cake from Smitten Kitchen
And some non-cakes…