Cake Flour vs All-Purpose Flour


If you are a beginner in baking, you may want to assume that all flours are the same and any type of flour will do. Well, that’s the reason you haven’t been getting that desired taste or appearance with your favorite recipes. For your heads up, flours are different and work best with certain recipes. Today we are going to look at cake flour vs all-purpose flour. Do you belong to the bandwagon that believes you can make your cake from all-purpose flour? We understand and loads of other people are in the same boat as you. But it is time to draw the line between cake and all-purpose flours.

Come and let us dare the path of the two flours and make our pastry cooking better.

What is Cake Flour? 

Cake flour is finely milled to a soft texture for delicate baking. Typically, it comes from either of the two soft types of wheat: soft white wheat and the soft red winter wheat. In comparison to other types of flour, cake flour has a remarkably low protein content of about 7 to 9 per cent. Since protein content is equivalent to gluten formation, cake flour normally has low gluten levels. Therefore, it is an ideal choice for the preparation of cakes that need the fluffy and airy texture. Also, it is worth noting that cake flour is both available in the bleached and unbleached options. 

Since cake flour is milled into an extra fine texture, it tends to absorb water in the baking process. This, in turn, gives your dough a higher rising capability hence makes it ideal for fluffy recipes. To be on the safe side, add enough water to cover up for the liquid absorption.  Most importantly, you should know that cake flour is not gluten-free. Though it has low protein content, cake flour still has some minimal amount of gluten. Consequently, it is not you go-to flour is you are on a gluten-free diet.

Cake Flour in a Bowl
A Bowl of Cake Flour

How to Prepare Your Cake Flour at Home

Is it possible to make your cake flour at home when you find out you don’t have any in your pantry? Yes, and the process is a piece of cake. You can easily prepare some cake flour in your kitchen without much ado. All you require are: all-purpose flour, tablespoons, corn starch, measuring cup, and a sieve. When you have everything set, follow the steps below;

  • Accurately measure a single cup of all-purpose flour, then scoop out two tablespoons of flour from the measured amount.
  • Replace the two tablespoons with corn starch. Corn starch has less gluten and tenderizes the all-purpose flour into a soft texture ideal for baking cakes. 
  • Sift the mixture into a bowl. You can repeat the sifting several times to attain the smoothest texture.  

Nutritional Value 

A single cup of cake flour contains 11g protein, 496 calories, 1.2 g fats, 144mg potassium, 2.7mg sodium, and 107g carbs. 

Cake Four Recipes 

Cake flour gives you the best results in preparing of fluffy cakes, cupcakes, biscuits, scones, muffins, pancakes, and waffles. Basically, it is recommended for any recipe that requires an airy effect. 

What is All-purpose Flour? 

Just as the name suggests, all-purpose flour is quite versatile. It is the kind of flour that makes sure that your appetite for pastry is never interrupted. Commonly, it comes from from red hard wheat or a blend of both soft and hard wheat. 

During the milling process, the bran and germ are removed leaving the flour with only the endosperm. As a result, all-purpose flour has scanty nutrients hence it requires enrichment by adding vitamins and minerals. These additional vitamins include folic acid, riboflavin, iron, calcium, and thiamine. Coincidentally, the removal of germ and bran also lengthens the all-purpose flour’s shelf life.  All-purpose flour has a protein content of between 10 and q13 per cent, which also translates to high gluten levels. The high gluten levels help in enhancing food structure and chewiness. Besides, gluten also helps in the leavening of recipes with yeast and baking powder as ingredients. 

All-Purpose Flour
A Bowl of All-Purpose Flour

How to Prepare All-purpose Flour at Home 

Being the most common flour, you find all-purpose flour useful in many situation. Therefore, it is not a surprise if you run of it in the middle of cooking. In such instances, it calls for getting creative and deliver the meal you promised your guests. When preparing all-purpose flour you need to have in mind that it contains both soft flour and hard flour characteristics. With this, a good substitution for this would be a mixture of cake flour which is soft flour, and a hard type such as bread flour.  Precisely, you can combine 60 grams of cake flour with 70grams of bread flour. Note that bread flour and cake flour have different weights. Consequently, use a weighing scale other than a measuring cup to avoid using excess or less flour. 

Nutritional Value 

A serving of all-purpose flour contains 10g protein, 133mg potassium, 76.67g carbs, 3.3g fiber, 33mg calcium, and 1mg thiamine. 

All-purpose flour Recipes 

The all-purpose flour comes in handy in preparation of most of your favorite baking recipes. These include pancakes, pastries, cookies, noodles, cakes, bread, pie crusts, and pizza.

Cake Flour vs All-Purpose Flour

Though these two types of flour have coinciding substitutes, there are distinct differences between the two. Here is what sticks out as differences between the two;

Protein Level

The major cake flour vs all-purpose flour difference battle is the protein content. With a protein level of 10-12 per cent, the all-purpose flour is richer in protein than cake flour, which contains 7-8 per cent protein. The protein difference results from the diverse types of flour that are used during processing. All-purpose flour is sourced from hard wheat or a blend of both hard and soft wheat resulting into high protein content. On the other hand, cake flour is produced from soft red winter wheat hence a low protein level. 

Gluten Content 

Cake flour has low gluten content because of the minimal protein content. The low gluten content makes it a great choice for the delicate recipes that demand an airy texture. On the contrary, all-purpose flour is high in gluten due to its high protein content. This, in turn, makes it best for recipes that need a strong structure. 

Water Absorption 

Normally, high-protein flours tend to absorb more water than the ones with low protein levels. As a result, all-purpose flour absorbs more water than cake flour hence producing stiffer dough. With cake flour, you end up with a soft and pliable dough perfect for the preparation of airy tender cakes. 

Texture 

Coming from hard wheat, all-purpose flour feels rougher than cake flour, which comes from soft wheat. This makes all-purpose flour hard enough for baking recipes with structure as an essential characteristic. On the flip side, with its light texture, cake flour is the best option for baking soft cakes and a score of delicate recipes. For your information, cakes from all-purpose flour are not as tender and light as those from cake flour. 

Is sifting Cake flour/All-purpose flour necessary? 

Whether you sift your flour or not, your recipe will just turn out okay, though it can help in removing lumps from the flour. Furthermore, if you are substituting cake flour with all-purpose flour you may require to do some sifting to attain a thoroughly soft texture. 

Final Thoughts

We all know how disappointing it gets when you realize that you have just dived into a recipe with all the wrong ingredients. I hope that the above discussion on cake flour vs all-purpose flour will help you pick the most appropriate flour for your recipes.  And don’t forget to keep it here for more information about flours.

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