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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 for 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 = softest texture = great for vanilla cake
  2. All-purpose flour = medium protein = moderate gluten = suitable for anything
  3. Bread flour = high protein = more gluten formation = hardest texture = great for bread
Vanilla cake batter in a glass bowl

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, pineapple upside-down 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 a softer funfetti cake. Make a 1:1 substitution with no other changes to the recipe.

slice of vanilla sheet cake on a pink plate

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 ingredients
homemade cake flour substitute in fine mesh sieve
homemade cake flour substitute in glass bowl

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 in glass bowl

Homemade Cake Flour Substitute

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


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.


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


  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.


  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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Hi Sally What is the best cake flour to use? And can you buy it at a wholesale price in a large quantity

    1. Hi Marie, we often use Softasilk or Swans Down cake flours. Feel free to buy in a large quantity if that option is available to you!

      1. Hello Sally, my name is Rose please to meet you! I live in Luxembourg. I would like to know where to order the softasilk cake flour?

      2. Hi Rose! You may be able to find it in the baking aisle at your local grocer, or online at Amazon or other food retailers. Hope this helps!

  2. Hi Sally, I would like to try baking the famous Jacque Torres chocolate chip cookies, which call for cake and bread flours – neither of which I keep on hand. You given a substitute for the cake flour here but do you also have a workable bread flour substitute that uses all-purpose with additions?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Jeff, We haven’t tried it but some people do add vital wheat gluten to all purpose flour to get the same chewy texture as bread flour. You can also simply use all purpose flour in it’s place although the texture will not be quite as chewy. I hope this helps!

    2. Every grocery store Carrie’s bread flour, it may not be organic, but they have All Purpose, Bread Flour and cake flour (which comes in smaller boxes vs. bags).

      It would be easier for you to go to your local regular grocery store (not a small convenience store) and buy bread flour, instead of buying vital wheat gluten.
      The vital wheat gluten is more a specialty item than bread flour and will end up costing you about the same as a bag of bread flour. Then you’d have to try to mix your vital wheat gluten with your AP to try and make a bread flour… I’d suggest just grabbing a bag from Amazon or your supermarket, just to save you time and grief. If you bake somewhat regularly, it will get used. Gold Medal has a good bread flour; I use King Arthur Organic Unbleached white bread flour (among other specialty flours). Good Luck!

  3. I am making cookies that are calling for cake flour. What would cake flour do to the consistency of a cookie? For example, cutout sugar cookies or drop sugar cookies. I’ve never made cookies with cake flour, so I am curious about how a cake flour cookie would taste and what the texture of it would be. Thank you!

    1. Hi Casey! Cake flour would yield a lighter, more delicate texture.

  4. Sally, I only buy skim milk. Can I use skim milk in this recipe?

    Everything I made from your recipes have been delicious…….

    1. Hi Claudia, The cake flour substitute doesn’t use milk. Let us know if you meant this comment for another recipe and we’d be happy to help!

  5. Well…..cake flour…thought flour was flour…I do use unbleached flour for all my recipes. Plan to make a jelly roll/swiss roll cake and saw the recipe called for cake flour….Duly noted I will use cake flour in my first attempt.

    Look forward to letting you know how my first endeavor turns out.

    Happy Baking!

  6. Such ridiculous directions. Why not state the weight of flour and the weight of corn starch needed. Done. then sift three times

    1. Not everyone has kitchen scales, so not ridiculous at all. Including weight would be helpful though, for those of us who do. These are great tips, Sally, keep up the good work!

    2. Exactly. Maybe nobody has thought of it before. I am thinking like this:-
      1 cup all-purpose = 125g
      1 Tblsp all-purpose = 7.81g
      1 Tblsp Cornflour = 9.38g

      So for 1 cup of cake flour :-
      125g – 2(7.81g) + 2(9.38g)
      = 109.38 (all-purpose)+18.76 (cornflour)

      Does it make sense?

      1. Thank you Mary. So much easier and more accurate with a scale. I am really appreciative of some of the newer recipes that convert for you with the click of a tab. That way people can choose what they are most comfortable with.

    3. The audacity one has to have to tell someone else how to explain their own recipes on their own website. Lol even if the directions are ridiculous (they are not), the author can explain things however they want. Everyone has the right to be ridiculous

  7. If using gluten free flour do I still need to add the cornstarch to the flour and sift?

    1. Hi Lily, We haven’t tested making a gluten free cake flour substitute. If you try it, let us know how it goes!

  8. This is good! but what if I have to substitute 3 1/4 cups cake flour how can I substitute the 1/4

    1. Hi Wel! We would do this cake flour process 4 times, then measure the 3 1/4 cups from there.

  9. In Australia we have Plain Flour and Self Raising flour

    Which one would you call All-purpose Flour? Is it Plain Flour?

    If its Plain Flour and combine it with Corn Flour, is that then Cake Flour?

    Does it need a rising agent?

    1. Hi Lyn! You would want to use plain flour, not self raising. Corn starch and cornflour are similar, but there are some differences between the two. We haven’t tested this DIY cake flour with corn flour, so we can’t say what the results would be. Let us know if you give it a try!

      1. Here in the UK it is the same. I use cornflour for every recipe which calls for cornstarch (!) and it worked fine in this too. I suppose I’m just lucky I don’t get a recipe where it could go wrong…

  10. Just want to thank you for your contribution to the home baking community! A free resource with valuable, useful, helpful information is much appreciated! Happy baking! <3

  11. Hi Sally,
    Would I be able to use this substitute in a red velvet cake and still get the same good texture? Or is it better to just buy real cake flour for a red velvet cake?

  12. Thank you for the info on cake flour. I couldn’t find cake flour at the market. I found boxes of cake mix but how you explained taking out a couple tablespoons and putting in a couple tablespoons of cornstarch, I was like okay that’s easy enough. I appreciate you telling us newbies. Now I can try even more recipes. You’re the best!

  13. I have arrowroot that I have not been using can I use it in place of cornstarch in the cake flour substitution recipe?

    1. Hi Miriam, We haven’t tried it but it should work. Happy baking!

  14. Sally, You are my go-to for recipes .. thanks. King Arthurs unbleached flour .. do you need to sift it before measuring for any recipe that calls for regular flour?

    1. Hi Mary! You only need to sift flour (whether unbleached or bleached) if the recipe calls for it. More on how to properly sift flour can be found in this post. Hope this helps!

  15. Thank you for posting. I needed to use GF flour for your angel food cake recipe, which calls for cake flour. This substitution worked perfectly!

  16. Hi Sally, thanks very much for providing directions on how to make cake flour! In your experience, have you found any differences in the final baked product when using store bought cake flour vs. homemade cake flour?

    1. Hi Ellen! I do find a difference and it really depends on the recipe. Delicate baked goods meant to have an extraordinary light texture like angel food cakes and white cakes should ideally use real cake flour. I do try to use real store-bought cake flour as much as I can. In a pinch, I will use this.

  17. I just have a question on bleached and unbleached all purpose flour. Which is better? What do you use in your recipes when they say “all purpose” Do you stick with one all purpose or do certain recipes get different results with unbleached/bleached?

    1. Hi Nicole, we try to use unbleached whenever possible — but either works!

  18. Hi Sally! What brand/percentage protein is the all-purpose flour you use in the recipe? For instance, I know King Arthur and Gold Medal, the two brands I end up buying most, have different levels of protein content. Thanks!

    1. Hi Sam, Sally typically uses King Arthur all-purpose flour. Hope this helps!

  19. Hi Sally,
    The recipe I’m using says 1/3 cup cake flour so what will the substitute amount be of all purpose flour and corn flour? Please help!

    1. Hi Nazish, Corn starch and cornflour are similar, but there are some differences between the two. We haven’t tested this DIY cake flour with corn flour, so we can’t say what the results would be. Let us know if you give it a try!

  20. Hello, is cake flour suitable for lemon cake or coffee cake? I also need to GF flour on occasion, so any advice on that would be appreciated. So looking forward to your recipes! Thank you

    1. Hi Aisie, we use all purpose flour in our coffee cake and our lemon cake. We have found that some recipes do well with a 1:1 GF substitution, but it may be best to find a recipe that is written for gluten free flour.

  21. Can you substitute almond flour that has been sifted in any of your recipes? Please advise…

    1. Hi Cam, we don’t recommend it. Almond flour has very different baking properties than all-purpose flour (or cake flour, bread flour, etc.) and absorbs wet ingredients at different rates. For best results, we always recommend using the flour that is listed in the recipe. If you’re interested, here are all of our recipes using almond flour.

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