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, 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.

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

162 Comments

  1. Can arrowroot be substituted for corn starch?

    1. Hi Colleen, I haven’t personally tested arrowroot but let me know if you try it!

  2. I wonder if another alternative to the addition of cornstarch would be reverse-creaming, as that inhibits the development of gluten. I’ve found that when I use that method, the cake is incredibly tender with a delicate crumb Thoughts?

    1. Hi Jackie, I love the reverse creaming method! I do use it – in addition to cake flour – in some recipes such as this Blackberry Lavender Cake and my One Layer Strawberry Shortcake Cake.

      1. Those sound delicious! You inspired me to go online and look for culinary lavender. I’m with you in that a lot of the time, lavender is too soapy/bitter/unpleasant — but infusions may just be the way to go. Thanks for pointing me to these recipes. I’m glad to have found your website!

  3. How much cornstarch do we add in?

    1. 2 Tablespoons (see above for ingredients).

  4. Peggy Curcie Kvam says:

    Hi Sally,

    Would you treat ‘00’ flour from Italy’s any differently; perhaps less corn starch replacement? It’s supposed to be finer than regular bread flour, and is used for pizza and pasta making.

    Love your baking site!
    Thanks, Peggy in Az

    1. Hi Peggy! I haven’t tried making this cake flour substitute with 00 flour. If you try it, I recommend leaving the flour and cornstarch measurements/ratios the same.

  5. When baking for coworkers I use King Arthur’s gluten free 1:1 flour. I’d like to use that when making cake flour, since it’s already gluten free think I should add less corn starch?

    1. Hi Amber, I haven’t tested this recipe with gluten free flour but let me know if you try it!

      1. I did this with King Arthur GF flour for the confetti cupcakes and it worked fine! Not the same as regular gluten cupcakes but definitely the best GF I’ve tried at home. 🙂

    2. Amber- I am Gluten intolerant so would love to know if you tried with HF flour? I grew up with Pandan chiffon cake smell in our house very often- my late mom was a great baker.
      I use Namaste GF flour.

      1. Leggenberger says:

        I am also GF. I threw out my Namaste GF flour as everything I made with it was gummy. Used King Arthur for a while and now Cup 4 Cup. It would be interesting to try this for a GF cake

  6. Brittany W. says:

    Hi Sally – can I use this technique to make this homemade cake flour a day in advance before using it to bake?

    1. Yes you can, Brittany!

  7. Wow! This is very helpful since every baking ingredients have been out of stock. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

  8. Kathy Shumate says:

    Hello Sally,

    I’m trying to make my jewish apple cake less dense, can I use cake flour instead?

    Kind Regards
    Kathy S

    1. Hi Kathy, It’s difficult to say without knowing your recipe but you can give it a try. I do use all purpose flour in my Glazed Apple Bundt Cake. You might also find my post on How to Prevent a Dry or Dense Cake helpful.

  9. Hi Sally ,can I use Self Raising Cake for this recipe?
    Many thanks.

    1. No, I don’t recommend it Diana. Self rising flour has leaveners already added into it so it’s best to use a recipe that is written specifically for self rising flour.

  10. Shahrukh Malik says:

    Hi Sally, thank you so much for this!
    I wanted to know if I can make the cake flour (about 8 cups) and then store it for later use? Would that work?

    1. I can’t see why not!

  11. Is cake mix same as cake flour?

    Thanks

    1. No, cake mix is very different as it contains many other ingredients so that you can just add eggs/oil/water to it to bake a cake. Cake flour is used in many cake recipes that are 100% from scratch.

  12. Never knew the difference between flours so I really appreciate it! This is great info – thank you:)
    b.b.

  13. Hi Sally! Is there any creative way to sift without a sifter lol? I can’t find cake flour anywhere and I’m needing it for your vanilla 2 layer cake and yellow sheet cake for my youngest’s birthday this week. Also on an unrelated note I have to tell you your sugar cut outs have become a birthday tradition for my kids- they pick a theme and I order a special cookie cutter then the birthday kid’s siblings and I decorate the cut outs for birthday week. It’s fun for everyone. Wouldn’t be a bday without SBA! ♡

    1. Yes! I often use a fine mesh sieve. I link to the one I own in the section above called “Items You Need.”

  14. Hi. I was wondering, I need 1/2 cup cake flour, how much flour am I starting with?
    Thank you in advance

    1. So, if you need 1/2cup of cake flour, start by measuring 1/2 cup of all purpose flour (62.5 g) remove 1 tblsp of flour (8 g) and add 1 tblsp of corn starch (8 g) and there you have it! Hope that hepls!

  15. Or…put two tablespoons of cornflour (cornstarch) into a one cup measure and spoon in your flour, then sift. 🙂

  16. Jerry L. Linder says:

    I really appreciate finding this cake flour recipe. I have been unable to find any during this pandemic. My favorite pound cake recipe uses cake flour and does not need baking powder. Should I still exclude baking powder in using my “homemade” cake flour? Thanks so much!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jerry, You can use this in your recipe the exact same way as store bought cake flour!

  17. Paula Restrepo says:

    Is It recommended to substitute this from any cupcake recipe? I want to try your piña Colada and your recipe uses APF

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Paula, You can use this for the pina colada cupcakes. In the section above called “What Does That Mean for Baking?” it explains that certain recipes (such as chocolate, carrot, banana) don’t hold up well to cake flour.

  18. I have been to 3 different stores in the past few days and cannot find cake flour. Even King Arthur web site is out of stock. I usually use KA, but I am going to use your method. Amazon has it, but you have to buy 6 boxes and I do not need 6 boxes. Thank you for having this on your web site.

  19. Hello! Can pastry flour be substituted for all purpose flour in making this cake flour substitute?

  20. Hi Sally! So for your homemade strawberry cake, do I still use 2 and 1/2 cups of homemade cake flour substitute or do I use less?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lisa! Yes, for our strawberry cake recipe, use 2 and 1/2 cups of this cake flour substitute.

  21. Hi Sally! I only have bread flour, and I am supposed to make a german chocolate cake today. Can I displace the bread flour with more corn starch to get the result I need?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lizzy, Unfortunately no. Bread flour contains a higher level of protein. You need lighter all-purpose flour to make the DIY cake flour.

  22. Hello Sally,
    I think there’s some difference between cornstarch and corn flour. U recommended using corn starch. But corn flour is what’s available around me. Can I use that?

  23. Sondra Kellogg says:

    Hi Sally, thanks for this! I would like to make a birthday cake (With a pineapple filling) with Bob’s red mill white whole wheat pastry flour. Is this possible? Would you recommend a specific cake recipe for this? Or can I just use this method of adding corn starch and then use your yellow cake recipe? Thank you!

    1. Hi Sondra, though I haven’t tested it, the yellow cake should turn out just fine using that substitution. I would still mix it with the cornstarch as noted here though.

  24. Hi Sally,
    How would I make 3 and 2/3 cups of cake flour? Thank you!

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