There’s a reason why the majority of my cake recipes call for cake flour instead of all-purpose (aka plain flour). The short answer is that cake flour is what makes my cakes ultra light and fluffy! Maybe it’s because I grew up on boxed cake mixes, but I’m always after that light, fluffy (yet moist) texture when crafting a cake recipe. I get tons of questions about whether or not it’s ok to substitute all-purpose flour and while it’s not something I recommend, there is a way to create homemade cake flour using all-purpose. I’ll show you how!
The Difference Between Cake Flour and All-Purpose Flour
While all-purpose flour is made from a combination of soft and hard wheat, cake flour is made from only soft wheat that’s been milled extra fine. It contains the lowest protein content of all the flours, and in baking, the lower the protein content the softer the texture. To give you an idea of the difference, cake flour has about 7-8% protein, all-purpose flour has about 10-12%, and bread flour has 14-16%. The higher the protein content, the more dense and sticky your batter will be, thus the more dense a cake will be after it’s baked.
I did a little baking experiment to test cake flour vs. all-purpose flour and see if there really is a big difference. I made my vanilla cake recipe, first with cake flour, then with all-purpose flour.
While you can’t see an alarming difference just by the photograph alone, trust me on this one. The all-purpose flour cake was much more dense and less flavorful (perhaps because of the extra gluten content?), while the cake flour version was mega-flavorful, so light, and so fluffy.
How To Make Homemade Cake Flour
You can find cake flour in the baking aisle of most grocery stores, but if it isn’t something you have access to, I have great news for you: you can easily convert the all-purpose flour you already have in your pantry into homemade cake flour that’s just as effective!
Here’s a quick video I whipped up of the process, and the detailed instructions are below:
You Will Need:
- All-Purpose Flour (also known as Plain Flour)
- Measuring cup (1 Cup)
- Measuring spoon (1 Tbsp)
Place 2 Tbsp of cornstarch into a one-cup measuring cup.
Spoon all-purpose flour or plain flour into the measuring cup and level it off to make exactly one cup.
Repeat per the amount of cake flour the recipe calls for, then sift it all together into a large bowl 4-6 times. I know, it’s a lot of sifting, but so worth it!
And voila, DIY cake flour! You can make large amounts of this cake flour ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in your pantry. This way, you won’t have to repeat the measuring-and-sifting process every time you make a cake. It’s a little more time intensive than buying actual cake flour, but it totally works in a pinch.
If you’d rather bypass this process and purchase cake flour, my favorite brands to use are Swan’s Down, Softasilk, and Bob’s Red Mill. Each of those will have you singing “hallelujah” when your cakes come out of the oven!
Hello, can I use cake flour when a recipe calls for all-purpose flour?
Hi Judy! It all depends on the recipe. Certain cakes like chocolate, pumpkin, and banana will bake much better with all-purpose flour, while vanilla-based cakes can usually be made more fluffy with cake flour. Hope that helps!
Thank you sooo much for this recipe.
Of course, Jeddah! Hope it helps!
How to measure the cake flour for the subsitution of all.purpose flour
Is it like if its 2 cups of all.purpose flour then subsitute with 2 cups of cake flout
Hi Sonali! It will be an equal substitution. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of all-purpose flour you can substitute for 1 cup of cake flour. Depending on the recipe though, some cake recipes bake better with cake flour and some (like chocolate, pumpkin, and banana cakes) bake better with all-purpose flour.
Arnetta Scott says
I am soooo glad that you posted this recipe for homemade cake flour. I rather us this than the box….softsilk. l know that my cakes will be the bomb
Excited for you to try this homemade cake flour, Arnetta!
Hi Whitney! Will I need to use 2Tbsp of corn starch for each 1 cup of all purpose flour if my cake recipe call for 3 cups of flour. Rose
That’s correct, Rosaleen! So in your case you would need a total of 6 Tbsp of corn starch for 3 Cups of flour (2 Tbsp per cup).
Hi there, I am glad I stumbled over your site! I am looking forward to making your lemon cake and I was directed here to learn about cake flour! Not something I have seen on the shelves here in New Zealand so going to give it a try. I was just wonder are your tablespoons 15g or 20g? I can never remember the difference between New Zealand and the rest of the world! Thanks
Hi Jenna! So excited for you to try my lemon cake recipe! I just weighed 2 Tbsp of cornstarch and it’s 15g total. So for every cup of cake flour you need, add 15g of cornstarch to a measuring cup, then add the flour and so on. Let me know how it goes!
Therena Miller says
Is it better to use self – risrising flour or all purpose flour (made to be cake flour for a carrot cake?
Hi Therena! Definitely better to use all purpose flour if you’re making cake flour. Self-rising flour has leavening agent in it, and will mess with the chemistry of the cake recipe.
Hi Whitney! Thank you so much, this is very helpful. I have a question, which flour should I use for making doughnuts, cake flour or All-purpose? Thank you 🙂
Hi Jack! I’ve actually never made doughnuts from scratch before, so I can’t say for sure. I would just find a well-rated recipe and use whatever flour it suggests 🙂
Joann S says
How do you use Cake Flour for a homemade cupcake recipie? I made Choc CC once with reg flour and they were dense
Hi Joann! I would use this homemade cake flour in any cupcake recipe that calls for cake flour. Most chocolate cupcake recipes call for all purpose flour because the cocoa powder in them is already a super fine ingredient, so when combined with cake flour the crumb doesn’t bind as well as all purpose. I’ve got some cupcake recipes here that you can try (including a chocolate cupcake recipe!) if you want, lots of them call for cake flour: https://sugarandsparrow.com/category/recipes/cupcakes/
Hi Whitney, do you recommend using wheat flour to make a cake because that is the only flour I have? Thank you!
Hi Neha! What kind of wheat flour do you have? All purpose flour is wheat flour, but bread flour, whole wheat flour, cake flour, etc are also considered wheat flour.
hey whitney! i was just wondering can i substitute cornstarch with corn flour? love your website and channel!!!
Hi Ripa! It depends. Apparently “corn flour” is a common name for “cornstarch” outside the US, so if that’s the case it will work just fine. But if it’s truly corn flour and not cornstarch, it won’t work the same because they are two totally different substances. True corn flour has gluten in it while cornstarch does not. It also tastes more earthy and has a completely different chemistry. The purpose of the cornstarch is to make the all-purpose flour more fine, and true corn flour won’t do that. So if what you have is truly corn flour and you can’t access cornstarch (or store bought cake flour!), I would say you’d be better off omitting it from the recipe and just sifting the all-purpose flour several times instead of trying to make it with corn flour.
hi! can i use Rafhan cornfour instead of cornstarch??
Hi Amna! I’ve never tried that before but after Googling it, cornflour and cornstarch are the same thing. So yes – that should totally work!
Sherin Varghese says
Hi Whitney, can this homemade substitute be used in recipes that call for cake flour and use reverse creaming method ?
Hi Sherin! It absolutely can.
If I need 3 cups of corn flour. Would you use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in each cup of all purpose, or could you just do 3 tablespoons in the first cup of all purpose, then add 2 additional cups of all purpose?
I hope this makes sense!
Hi Ash! If you need 3 Cups of cake flour total, you’ll use 2 Tbsp of corn starch per 1 Cup of all purpose flour. This means you could essentially add 6 Tbsp of corn starch (2 Tbsp x 3 Cups) into the first cup and top it off with all purpose flour, then add 2 additional cups of just all purpose flour, then sift all of that together. Hope that helps!
Michelle Webster says
Hi Witney I used 120g of plain flour and 15g cornflour sifted it 6 times have I got the mix right for cake flour x
Hi Michelle! Yes, that is correct!