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What is Cake Flour & How to Substitute

Learn the answer to the questions: “What is Cake Flour?”, “How is cake flour different than all-purpose flour?”, and “How can I make a cake flour substitute?”

What is Cake Flour?

Cake flour is a finely milled, low protein flour that has been heavily bleached with hydrochloric acid. Because cake flour has a low protein content and a soft, velvety texture it is desireable to use in cakes recipes because it creates a cake that is light and tender.

Cake Flour vs All-Purpose Flour

The most significant difference between cake flour and all-purpose flour is the protein content. Cake flour has a protein content around 7-8%, while all-purpose flour typically has a protein content of around 11-12%. The protein present in wheat flour is what creates gluten strands once the flour is hydrated. Because cake flour has a low protein content, minimal gluten structures are formed when it is mixed in a cake batter which keeps the cake tender.

Furthermore, because of the changes to the starch in the flour after being treated with hydrochloric gas, the flour absorbs liquid more readily and allows fat to the starch in the flour more easily. These properties of cake flour result in cakes that have a very moist and even crumb. The bleaching process of the flour also causes cake flour to be slightly acidic. You may notice that cake flour has a subtle flavor and small to it that all-purpose flour does not.

Cake Flour Substitute

Because of the unique qualities of cake flour due to the treatment and processing it goes through, there is not exact substitute for cake flour. However, you can approximate the properties of cake flour by substituting a combination of cake flour and a starch such as corn starch. By combining the starch with the all-purpose flour you are reducing the percentage of protein in the mixture as well as adding a more absorbent and finer texture substance which will help mimic the cake flour’s properties.

It is also important to sift your cake flour substitute very well so that you aerate it which will further support the light and tender crumb that cake flour would produce.

Cake Flour Substitute

Cake Flour Substitute

Yield: 1 Cup
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Cake flour is a low protein, finely milled flour used for making light and tender cakes. This cake flour substitute can be used in place of cake flour to mimic the desired results cake flour creates in baked goods.


For every 1 cup of cake flour you are substituting:

  • 2 TBSP (0.5 oz, 14 gr) cornstarch
  • 1 cup minus 2 TBSP (3.7 oz, 104 gr) all-purpose flour


  1. Use the ratio of ingredients as a substitute for every one cup of cake flour your recipe calls for.
  2. Place 2 TBSP of cornstarch into a 1 cup measuring cup & fill the measuring cup with all-purpose flour by lightly spooning it in & leveling it off.
  3. Sift the mixture three times. This will make sure the starch is evenly distributed throughout the flour and also aerates the flour so that it behaves more like cake flour.
  4. You can make a large batch and store in an airtight container to use when needed. Make sure to whisk the flour thoroughly before each use to ensure the ingredients are evenly distributed, measure out a cup, and then sift it again before adding it into your recipe.

Recipes that Use Cake Flour


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5 comments on “What is Cake Flour & How to Substitute”

  1. Thank you so much for the recipe to make cake flour. In the past, i would abort the option of cake making with cake flour as i don’t continually have it in my cupboard. I usually have AP and Bread flours, most of the time but Always have Corn starch in large portions on hand. Will attempt a recipe with this ratio and see if any big difference. If/when i do have cake flour, it is usually Swanson. Please advise your take on a good cake flour should i come across a sale .

    • Hi there! I’m so glad you found this information useful! I typically use Swanson as well because it is the most easy to find and I have good results with it. But I also love King Arthur Flour, but it isn’t as readily available.

  2. I don’t have cornstarch on hand can I use tapioca flour/starch instead?

    • Hi Sara, I haven’t tested it and I don’t think it would work very well as a substitute. If you have a food processor you can put your all purpose flour in it and pulse it until it is a finer texture. Then sift it several times. I would recommend this over trying tapioca starch!

  3. My recipe calls for one pound of cake flour and i saw that the ratio you have were based off of 1 cup; therefore, should I just double it? 1 cup would amount to 8 ounces, so if my math is correct then 4 tablespoons should cover 16 ounces or 1 pound correct.

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