TRB TO THE RESCUE: Flustered Over Flour

Posted by & filed under TRB to the Rescue.

TRB happened to be on her weekly trip to Stop & Shop when the call came in…

I am about to make a cake, but the recipe calls for cake flour. Of course, I do not have any at home and the store is out. What should I do? Can I use all purpose flour instead?

– Flustered Over Flour

Well, Flustered, TRB had to jumpstart her memory for a second, since – like for most bakers – this problem has, ahem, arisen before.

The answer is “Yes,” you may use either flour – typically, whichever you happen to have on hand. However, there is a difference between the two flours that should be clarified, so that you can make informed decisions about which to go with in the future.

Cake flour contains less protein and, therefore, less gluten, so it is usually found in recipes for more delicate desserts – i.e., angel food cake. All purpose flour contains more gluten and is generally more “hearty.” It can be used in recipes for breads, cookies, pastries – basically, desserts that are more sturdy.

But, when you do not have cake flour on hand (sometimes it is difficult to find in your local grocery store), you may substitute all purpose flour – with one caveat: If using all purpose flour, the measurement ratio is NOT 1:1. So, one cup of all purpose flour is NOT equal to one cup of cake flour. When using all purpose flour, you must subtract two tablespoons of flour from one cup to equal one cup of cake flour.

Simply put, remember:

1 cup minus 2 tbsp all purpose flour = 1 cup of cake flour

Now, when using a cake flour such as Presto, things get a bit more complicated. Since Presto is a “self-rising” cake flour, it already contains leavening agents you would typically need to add to a basic cake recipe. So, when using Presto, remember that you should NOT add ingredients such as baking powder or baking soda. Also, Presto contains salt, so you should eliminate it as well.

Flustered, TRB hopes this helps. Let us know how your cake turned out!

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