While I love baking, living in New York City means I don't have a lot of storage space — especially in the kitchen. The baking shelf in my pantry is stocked very simply with basics and essentials. While I'd love to keep things like cake flour on hand, it just isn't practical since I don't use it on a regular basis. Instead I have room for one bulky sack of all-purpose flour.
Turns out you can actually get the benefits of baking with cake flour without having to buy it (and store it). You just need these two common pantry items to make a cake flour substitute at home.
What Exactly Is Cake Flour?
Cake flour is a finely milled, delicate flour with a low protein content; it's usually bleached. When used in cakes, it results in a super-tender texture with a fine crumb, and a good rise. Chiffon and angel food cake are two great examples of where cake flour really shines.
The primary difference between cake flour and all-purpose (AP) flour is the protein content (which becomes gluten). The protein content of cake flour is about 8%, while the protein content of AP flour is slightly higher.
How to Make a Cake Flour Substitute at Home
Making a cake flour substitute is easy with the following two ingredients: all-purpose flour and either cornstarch or arrowroot powder.
1 cup AP flour - 2 Tablespoons AP flour + 2 Tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot = 1 cup cake flour
Start with one level cup of AP flour, remove two tablespoons of the flour, and add two tablespoons of cornstarch or arrowroot powder back in. Then sift the mixture together to be sure the ingredients are well distributed.
When added to all-purpose flour, cornstarch will inhibit the formation of gluten while also giving structure and "sponginess" to your cake. While cornstarch can easily be swapped for arrowroot powder, it is important to note that arrowroot will cause cakes to cook more quickly, and will often be more moist than than made with cornstarch.
Try These Recipes with Cake Flour
Updated from a post originally published March 2008.