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You only need two ingredients for this swap. 🍰
We’ve all been there: You’re in the mood to bake something, you finally find the perfect cake recipe, and you’re so excited to get to work—until you start pulling the ingredients out of your pantry. You have everything on the list except for one thing: cake flour.
But don’t freak out—and definitely don’t run out to the store. We’re here to tell you that you can, in fact, make your own cake flour substitute in a pinch, meaning nearly every type of cake is within reach! While most people have a bag or two of all-purpose flour in the pantry at all times, not everyone keeps cake flour on hand (though Ree Drummond swears by it for her pancakes—she says it’s an essential ingredient!). As far as types of flour go, it’s certainly not as common as the more popular all-purpose.
But guess what? You really can make your own cake flour substitute—even if you only have all-purpose on hand. (And by the way, you can also just use all-purpose flour by itself as a swap! Your baked goods won’t be as tender and light, though.)
It’s a great question—but first things first, let’s talk about what cake flour even is. Turns out it’s a finely milled version of all-purpose flour that’s lightened with cornstarch. It contains the least amount of protein of all the wheat flours on the market—about eight percent (compared to all-purpose’s 11 percent). This means that less gluten is produced in the final product, which ultimately translates to a finer, more delicate crumb. You can taste the difference in light and airy treats like angel food cake or Ree’s lemon blueberry pancakes. Consider keeping a box of cake flour in your pantry—or keep reading to find out how to fake your own!
You likely already have everything you need: all-purpose flour and cornstarch. (If you have any other kind of starch, like tapioca starch/flour, arrowroot or potato starch, these will work too.) Here’s what to do—use this mix in place of 1 cup cake flour.
Measure 1 cup all-purpose flour, then scoop out and remove 2 tablespoons. Now add 2 tablespoons cornstarch.
Grab a sifter or fine-mesh sieve (or pull out a large bowl and whisk). Sift the flour-cornstarch mixture together about 5 times, or whisk together until very thoroughly combined. (The sifting/whisking also serves to aerate the DIY cake flour to achieve its signature lightness.) That’s it—you’re done!
You can use straight-up all-purpose flour instead of cake flour, but the texture of your baked goods won’t be the same—they won’t turn out nearly as tender and delicate. Your better bet is to use the all-purpose flour-cornstarch mixture detailed above.