Homemade Cake Flour Substitute

You only need two common ingredients– all-purpose flour and cornstarch– to make a homemade cake flour substitute. Sifting them together is key. Use this mixture whenever a recipe calls for cake flour.

homemade cake flour substitute

As my baking experience grows, I use cake flour more and more in my baking. There’s no denying that cake flour produces the softest, most tender cakes and cupcakes. I try to keep my kitchen stocked with this crucial ingredient, but sometimes I quickly run out when I’m recipe testing. So in a pinch, I make this super easy cake flour substitute.

Let’s back up for a minute though.

What is Cake Flour?

Cake flour is a low protein flour that’s milled into a fine consistency. It contains about 7-9% protein, while all-purpose flour, a harder flour, has anywhere between 10-12%. What does this mean for baking? You see, protein content is directly related to gluten formation. Cake flour’s lower protein means less gluten is formed as you mix the batter together. Less gluten formation equates to a softer, fluffier texture.

Bread flour has a high protein content, which means more gluten forms during the mixing process. Super basic breakdown:

  1. Cake flour = low protein = less gluten formation = softest texture = great for vanilla cake
  2. All-purpose flour = medium protein = moderate gluten formation = suitable for anything
  3. Bread flour = high protein = more gluten formation = hardest texture = great for bread

Vanilla cake batter

What Does That Mean for Baking?

Cake flour’s soft, tender texture directly translates into your baked good.

However, some recipes simply can’t withstand fine cake flour. Chocolate cake, for example, already has cocoa powder— which is a VERY fine dry ingredient. The combination of cake flour and cocoa powder usually results in a flimsy cake. Additionally, carrot cake and banana cake contain additional wet ingredients (the fruits or veggies), so cake flour isn’t really ideal. You need a stronger flour like all-purpose flour.

I stick to cake flour when making vanilla cake, white cake, red velvet cake, and other cakes where a fluffy texture is favorable. I’ve been successful substituting cake flour for all-purpose flour to create softer pineapple upside-down cake and funfetti cake. Make a 1:1 substitution with no other changes to the recipe.

vanilla sheet cake

How to Make a Homemade Cake Flour Substitute

Step 1: Measure 1 cup all-purpose flour. Remove 2 Tablespoons.

Step 2: Measure 2 Tablespoons cornstarch. Add to the flour. Cornstarch contains less gluten than flour, so it’s a wonderful tenderizing ingredient to help make cake flour.

Step 3: Sift together TWICE. Basically, sift into a mixing bowl once. Then run it through the sifter one more time. Sifting not only mixes the two ingredients together appropriately, it aerates the mixture so the consistency is similar to real cake flour.

Step 4: Measure 1 cup from this mixture. You’ll have about 1 cup anyway, but sometimes sifting can produce more volume since it’s adding air.

homemade cake flour substitute

homemade cake flour substitute in fine mesh sieve

homemade cake flour substitute

Items You Need

PS: Here’s the flour canister pictured above. I use these for my flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and confectioners’ sugar. They’re awesome!

homemade cake flour substitute in measuring cup

If you’re purchasing cake flour, though, I’m happy to share my favorite brands. I love Swans Down and Softasilk. (Not working with either, just a genuine fan!) I use unbleached when I can find it, otherwise I just stick with bleached. Both brands provide quality results for a good price. You can find cake flour in the baking aisle next to the all-purpose flour.

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homemade cake flour substitute

Homemade Cake Flour Substitute

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup
  • Category: Baking
  • Method: Mixing
  • Cuisine: American

Description

You only need two common ingredients– all-purpose flour and cornstarch– to make a homemade cake flour substitute. Sifting them together is key. Use this mixture whenever a recipe calls for cake flour.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup (125g; 16 Tablespoons) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)*
  • 2 Tablespoons (16g) cornstarch

Instructions

  1. Start with 1 cup all-purpose flour. Remove 2 Tablespoons (16g) so you have 14 Tablespoons total. (Use the 2 Tablespoons you removed another time. Just put it back in the flour bag/canister!)
  2. Add cornstarch to the 14 Tablespoons of flour.
  3. Sift together TWICE. Basically, sift into a mixing bowl. Then run it through the sifter one more time. Sifting not only mixes the two ingredients together appropriately, it aerates the mixture so the consistency is similar to real cake flour.
  4. Measure (spoon & level) 1 cup from this mixture. You’ll have about 1 cup anyway, but sometimes sifting can produce more volume since it’s adding air.
  5. Now you have 1 cup of cake flour that you can use in any recipes requiring cake flour. If the recipe requires more than 1 cup cake flour, you can do this process in bulk, but I find it’s better to make each cup of cake flour separately.

Notes

  1. Basically you need 14 Tablespoons (3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons; 109g) of spoon & leveled all-purpose flour. Sometimes it’s easier to measure 1 cup (16 Tablespoons) then remove 2 Tablespoons than to individually measure 14 Tablespoons. Alternatively, you could measure 3/4 cup flour then add 2 Tablespoons.
  2. Cornstarch is extra fine and lowers the gluten formation in the all-purpose flour, similar to cake flour. In the UK, cornstarch is referred to as corn flour. Make sure you are not using cornmeal. They are completely different ingredients.

Keywords: cake, flour

46 Comments

  1. I’ve been looking for cake flour in every store,I work in Saudi Arabia
    and can not find it anywhere.
    What timing, you must of read my mind.
    You are amazing,!!
    Thank you for sharing all your knowledge.

      1. Would other starches such as arrowroot or potato starch work the same as cornstarch? Some family friends of mine have corn allergies. I assume it will work just fine to sub but figured I would ask!

      2. Hi Brandilyn, I haven’t tested it since I don’t usually have those in my kitchen. However I’m confident you can use arrowroot.

    1. Hi sally, you mention using cake flour in your pineapple upside down cake, i make this every year for my fiance as it’s his favourite and his birthday is in a few weeks. Do you replace the all purpose flour with cake flour? Thanks! Have been working my way through your recipes your triple layer chocolate cake is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had!

      1. Hi Claire! Yes, I substitute cake flour in the pineapple upside down cake recipe– same exact amount, a 1:1 substitution with the all-purpose flour.

  2. Like that you explained why cake in vanilla, red velvet but not chocolate and others. I imagine lemon can be cake flour also to make a tender crumb.

  3. Thank you for this wonderful tip Sally! Cake flour does create the softest texture! I was wondering if you could post a recipe for Homemade Caramel Cake in the next month or so with all your tips and tricks! I would love to make homemade caramel cake for my 25th birthday October 8th! It’s my favorite cake as well as butter pecan pound cake with homemade cream cheese icing! My great aunt always makes the homemade caramel cake and I would love to surprise them with the one I make! Also, my mom and I make your homemade caramel sauce for ice cream and cheese cake all the time! We actually have some in the fridge now Thank you in advance and let me know what you think about the homemade caramel cake!

    1. I actually have a caramel cake recipe coming up! I’m still testing it, but hoping it will work out in the next few weeks.

      1. Thank you so much Sally! I’m so excited to try your caramel cake- I know it will taste amazing! I know caramel cakes are hard to make, but it’s definitely worth the challenge! Also, I was wondering if you have ever considered making Homemade Tres Leches Cake? My God daughter first birthday is coming up on October 24th and the birthday party is Mexican themed and would love to make a tres leches cake for the party! Thank you in advance and for replying so quickly!

    1. Thank you for this cake flour hack. I don’t use cake flour very often, so I am hesitant about buying an entire box. I even found my grandmother’s sifter while going through my “box of stuff“. Now back to your vanilla cupcake recipe!

  4. I’m interested to know what brands you’ve found that sell UNBLEACHED cake flour. I tried the King Arthur Flour Unbleached Cake Flour when they first came out with it several years ago, and was very disappointed to find that it was nothing more than their Unbleached All-Purpose Flour mixed with cornstarch, as your post mentions. I can do that myself!!! I’ve NEVER seen true Unbleached Cake Flour in any brand. (I live in the USA.) If you know of a brand that has true Unbleached Cake Flour, I’d be most interested. Thanks so much, Sally.

    1. Thanks Gemma! It was a gift, so I’m not sure– and I can’t find it online either. Search for “sprinkle tea towel” and you might find something online!

  5. I always follows your recipe note instructions for making DIY cake flour in my recipes because storebought cake flour is so expensive. It always works out perfectly for me! 🙂

  6. Thank you for sharing this. It’s not possible to get cake flour that I know of here in the UK. I have never seen a recipe for Victoria Sponge made using cake flour. I would like to try it though. Would it work. Thanks again.

  7. Thanks Sally. It’s good to know I can sub cake flour for all purpose in certain recipes. I’ve got a box of cake flour and want to start using it.

  8. Since I made one of your recipes (about 3 weeks or so ago) that used this type of flour in it for the cake, I’ve been wanting to know this secret formula! Thank you for sharing and posting.

  9. Here in Germany we don’t have cake flour. In all German rezepes that need that special texture flour (all purpose) and starch (traditionally made from potatoes) are both in the ingredient list. I once learned from a miller that I should use the cheapest flour for fine cakes because of the low protein content .
    Thanks to you I now know the ratio of the two ingredients for all the American recipes.
    Greetings from sunny Munich
    Christine

  10. Thank you so much for this recipe which was needed for me to your https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/strawberry-cake/. As per your calculation, i need 272.5 g all purpose flour and 40 g cornstarch for this strawberry cake. I dont have cornstarch, but having rice flour, so shall i replace cornstarch by rice flour and if so, what is the proportion? Thanks in advance

  11. I made a cake for my husband using this flour/cornstarch combo and he said the cake was just awesome! he loved the texture. He likes fluffy cakes and I’m a dense brownie person.

  12. Hi Sally. Little question. I absolutely love you measuring cup. Would you happen to remember where I can purchase them? Also, when I get ready to bake, I always go to you blog. Your a great teacher. I live way out in country, not near any stores. I cannot drive because of my vision, I see fine but can’t pass dmv eye tests. Anyway, this cake flour recipe helps me out. Instead of waiting till I get to a store. Can I use this recipe all the time when a recipe calls for cake flour? If so, why buy cake flour anymore? Your awesome, again, I just made your cookie recipe, salted vanilla, toffee.

    1. Hi Bonnie, thank you so much! I’m glad this is helpful! The light blue measuring cups are KitchenAid brand. You can find them on Amazon or Target and Crate and Barrel carry them too!

  13. Hi Sally I’m a Newby gluten free , soy free, dairy free and nut free baker , and just love your recipes and thorough explainations. I was wondering if I double sifted gluten free cake flour which has no gluten if I would get the same consistency as homemade cake flour? Ps: I made your Apple Cider Donuts with Gf flour and they were Amazing.

    1. Hi Michelle! The consistency would be similar, yes, but gluten free flours will never been 100% identical to regular flour. I hope this helps!

  14. Hi Sally ,
    Thanks for this explanations on the DIY cake flour… My question is about the cup measurement… Is it 250 ml or 235 ml measure?. Pls advice which one to use. Kind regards.

  15. They turned out so yummy! The cake is wonderful on its own with a little butter for a morning treat. Will definitely make again!

  16. The substitute worked perfectly! I had never used cake flour/cake flour substitute before, but I used it to make your Coconut Cake and it was lighter and fluffier than any cake I’ve had before…thank you Sally!!!

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