We all enjoy yummy desserts, and cake may just be the most popular of all. If you want to bake a fluffy moist cake, you will need cake flour.
If you are an avid cake eater but not an avid cake baker, you may be wondering what cake flour is. Don’t worry, we will explain what cake flour is, how it is different from other flours, and more.
What is Cake Flour?
Cake flour is milled from soft winter wheat. It is finely milled and has the lowest protein content amongst all baking flours. Protein in flour is known as gluten, and if the content is low, that means the level of gluten is also low. The gluten makes your cakes lighter, delicate, and fluffy.
Cake flour is bleached, meaning that it has a lighter color and texture. This allows it to absorb more liquid, making your batter rise higher. Therefore, ensure that your batter has sufficient liquid to account for the absorption when making the cake batter. Nobody wants a flat cake after all!
Historical Background of Cake Flour
During the 18th century, Levi Igleheart left the farming sector and started grinding wheat grain. A brother, William, later joined him after realizing realized that Levi had happened upon a profitable venture. Levi and William named the business, wait for it, Igleheart Brothers Millers. A few years later, William passed on and left the company to Levi and his three sons.
In 1894, one of the Levi’s sons, Addison, developed a new way of milling wheat, and the resulting flour was suitable for baking cake. Because the flour was so light and soft, he named it Swans Down. During the 1904 World Fair, Swans Down was awarded the grand prize for cake flour. So, it was kind of a Big Deal.
In 1945, the company introduced cake mix in the market, which was well-received. However, in the 1970s, their signature cake mix was forced out of business due to stiff competition, but Swans Down cake flour has prevailed. It was later acquired by Wm. B. Reiley & Company, and it is currently produced and sold by Reily Foods.
Cake Flour: Interesting Tidbits
We interrupt this article for some cake flour trivia…
- Cake flour has the lowest protein content.
- It is also the most finely milled baking flour.
- Cake flour is bleached using chlorine gas, something that does not happen with other flours.
Well-Known Brands of Cake Flour
Check out these top brands.
This cake flour brand from Pillsbury is popular amongst avid bakers as it gives you tender and fluffy cakes. The flour is milled from select soft winter wheat, and it is enriched, bleached, and pre-sifted to make your work easier when baking.
Softasilk is Kosher certified, and the ingredients found in this flour include Niacin, Riboflavin, Iron, Folic acid, and Thiamin Mononitrate. It is best for baking muffins, pastries, pies, and biscuits.
It is very affordable and comes in a 32-ounce package.
Bob also carries a great gluten-free cake mix. That flour has the following ingredients; sugar, whole grain sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and baking powder. It is packaged in a compact packaging that does not allow in water or air, ensuring the flour won’t go bad quickly. Added bonus: the packaging is environmentally friendly.
King Arthur has a wide range of cake products. King Arthur flour is unbleached and is available in 32-ounce packages. The flour has niacin, thiamin, malted barley flour, reduced iron, folic acid, riboflavin, and wheat starch.
This unbleached cake flour is made 100% from US wheat. It is Kosher certified and GMO-free.
This flour has been around for a verrrrry long time! Swans Down is available in 32-ounce packaging that holds eight packets. The flour is bleached and contains niacin, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, reduced iron, and folic acid. It is best for cakes, brownies, muffins, pancakes, and pies.
Note that this flour does not contain salt or a leavening agent.
How is Cake Flour Made?
You may be wondering, is it possible to make cake flour? Yes, dear reader. It is.
If you find that you’ve run out of cake flour and must bake a cake, you can DIY it. You’ll need the following Items:
- All-purpose flour
- Corn starch
- Measuring cup
- Take one cup of all-purpose flour
- Remove two tablespoons of the flour
- Put the remaining all-purpose flour in a bowl, measure two tablespoons of cornstarch, and add them to the bowl.
- Mix the flour well and then sift it twice. Take another bowl and pour your flour mixture in a sifter and sift. Repeat the process twice.
This ensures that both are well-mixed, creating the same consistency as store-bought flour. And voila, your homemade flour is ready to use.
What Does It Taste Like?
When you hear of cake flour, you may think that the flour tastes like cake, but that’s not the case. It’s not sweet; it’s just a starchy powder that does not have any taste on its own. It is advised against consuming raw flour as it can be harmful to your health because it can be contaminated with bacteria.
Plus, let’s face it, eating raw flour sounds like an awful experience.
What Does Cake Flour Smell Like?
Cake flour is finely milled to give it a soft and delicate texture. You will also find that some are bleached and others are not. Bleached cake flour has a strange smell, as it is bleached using chlorine gas. Many people prefer bleached as it helps your cake absorb water and set faster than other flours.
How Is Cake Flour Different From Other Types of Flour?
There are different types of baking flour in the market. And the primary difference in all the flours is the gluten content. In addition, some flours are made from hard wheat, while others are made from soft winter wheat. Flours made from hard wheat, such as bread flour, are high in protein, while soft winter wheat flours have a low protein content. And the more protein is in flour, the more the dough has strength, volume, and elasticity.
Cake flour is milled from soft winter wheat and is low in protein, thus perfect for desserts that do not need a lot of elasticity or strength. This is why it used to bake delicate goods such as pastries, cake, and biscuits.
All-purpose flour is milled from soft and hard wheat; thus, its protein content is relatively moderate (10-12%). This means that it does not have the same density as bread flour, but it will hold the structure of the baked good. That’s why all-purpose flour is used in many recipes, as it falls in between the flours with high and low gluten.
What Are Some Substitutes for Cake Flour?
Cake flour is the most finely milled flour of all flour types. Thus, it’s not recommended to use other types of flour for baking a cake as your results will be affected. However, if you don’t have it, you can use plain flour to bake a cake. Note that you will notice a difference in your cake’s texture because it will not be as dense and soft as when you use cake flour.
You can also use self-rising flour, as it is just a mixture of all-purpose flour and baking powder. And since all-purpose flour is a good substitute, you’ll just have to account satisfactorily for the other ingredients.
Pastry flour is the middle ground between all-purpose flour and cake flour and a worthy substitute.
The best substitute for store-bought cake flour is making your own.
Can I Make Whole Wheat Pastry Flour?
Yes. If you have run out of whole wheat pastry flour, you can make your own by mixing half of the all-purpose flour and a half of whole wheat flour. For instance, if your recipe calls for two whole wheat pastry flour cups, use one cup of all-purpose flour and one cup of whole wheat flour.
A Final Tip
When you are baking cakes, make sure to use sufficient water. This is because this type of flour is highly absorbent, allowing your batter to rise higher, giving you a tall and fluffy cake. Since this flour is finely milled, it helps with fat distribution, thus ensuring that your cake does not have any clumps.
So, what are you waiting for? Get your cake flour and start baking.