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 = 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

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

84 Comments

  1. I only have best for bread flour and live too far away from town to justify a trip for one thing. Is there any way to adjust bread flour so it behaves like all purpose? Then, perhaps, I could make another adjustment to make the all purpose into cake flour. Thank you.

  2. We mill our grain… When using soft white wheat, do I still need to use the corn starch, or is soft white suitable as cake flour?

  3. Thank you!!! This is what I’m looking for. I’m surely making this. By the way, can I use rice flour instead of corn starch? Thanks again.

  4. This a great tip to make cake flour. Do you have to purchase cake flour instead of making it, with this recipe. Is there some other ingredient in the store bought brands? I would think this recipe should be cheaper to use.
    Thank you

  5. Hi Sally,
    I need to cake flour so what using unbleached all purpose flour or all purpose flour for vanilla Cupcakes, Please let me know

    Thanks

  6. Hi Sally…concerning the flour…I have a chocolate chip cookie recipe that calls for 2 cups of all-purpose flour but I’d really like to make these cookies real soft. Would it make much difference in the softness of these cookies if I use 1 cup all-purpose flour and the other the cup of all-purpose flour reduced by the 2 tablespoons as you suggest and replaced with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch?

    1. Hi Rodney, I add corn starch to many of my cookie recipes to keep them extra soft! Without knowing what recipe you are using I can’t recommend an exact amount. But as an example you can see how I add it in my Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.

  7. Hi Sally, I live in Australia and the only cake flour I can find is the lighthouse brand. I have used it once on your champagne cake rolls and the result was eggy, I don’t know whether it was the brand or not..Do you have any info on this brand? If not, all good
    Btw, love your recipes

    Reza x

    1. Hi Reza, Unfortunately I’m not familiar with that brand. Instead of purchasing it can you use all-purpose (I believe it’s just call plain in Australia) and cornstarch to make your own as described here?

  8. You state to use AP flour when making a chocolate cake because it has cocoa in it and then say use cake flour when making a Red Velvet cake which also has cocoa in it. Which is correct? Sorry I am confused but your advice contradicts itself.

    1. Hi Susan! There is much less cocoa powder in red velvet cake than chocolate cake (in my recipes, at least). More cocoa powder lightens the batter, so it’s best to stick with AP flour in chocolate cake since the cocoa powder is so light.

  9. Hi Sally!
    So excited to make my own cake flour so I don’t have to buy some for one recipe. I’m hoping to make an angel food cake from scratch but your angel food cale recipe requires 1 cup and 2 tbsp of cake flour. Any recommendations there?

    Thank you!
    Quin

  10. For the Cream Cheese Pound Cake recipe I have Philadelphia brand Cream Cheese Spread. How can I use this instead of the 8 ounce full fat cream cheese? I expect the regular all purpose flour would make up for the extra liquid I believe the spread would
    create. Can you help me with this problem?
    Theresa

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