Subbing all purpose flour for cake flour

A question I get asked on a regular basis is “Can I substitute all purpose flour for cake flour?” It is far less common to hear the reverse (although I have actually done so in recipes when I was out of flour and couldn’t be bothered to go to the store), since if you have one kind of flour at home, it will generally be all purpose.

The answer to the question is yes, but the substitution is not one-to-one. The general rule of substitution is 1 cup of all purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons (1c – 2tbsp) is equivalent to 1 cup of cake flour. If you want to substitute cake flour for all purpose, use 2 cups of cake flour plus 2 tablespoons (2 cups + 2 tbsp). If you do decide to use this sub, treat the all purpose flour just as you would cake flour (sifting before measuring, etc.).

Now, that said,I would highly recommend that you stick with whatever type of flour your recipe calls for, even when it means going out to the store to buy a box. The substitution is fairly reliable, but this is definitely a “substitute at your own risk” sort of thing. Different flours have different protein (gluten) contents and different weights, and different flours can result in dramatically different results in different recipes. All purpose flour has about 11% protein content, while cake flour has 6-8%. Some recipes need that low protein content to remain tender and light (like Angel Food Cake) and others are flexible enough (like some cakes or loaves) to use the substitution, but knowing that all purpose flour is so much “stronger” than cake flour should help you decide when you can substitute and when you may not want to.

Note: Some advocate using 1 cup of all purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons plus 2 tbsp cornstarch  as a substitute for cake flour. This should work just as well, perhaps better, as the gluten-free cornstarch can cut down on the protein content of the all purpose flour. It still won’t produce results quite as good as cake flour and involves an extra step from the one I mentioned above, so I personally prefer the simpler sub. But going out and buying cake flour (or all purpose) is always going to be your best bet.

41 comments

  1. What about Wondra flour. I scored a great deal on a box of it but can’t see myself making a whole lot of gravy or popovers with it.

  2. Wondra flour is its very own entity. It is very low protein also called “instant flour” because it can be almost instantly incorporated into sauces, etc, without the clumping associated with regular flour. You can sub wondra flour with cake or all purpose in a gravy, but I wouldn’t substitute cake or all purpose with wondra in a baked recipe.
    Fortunately, there are some recipes out there that call for it, so just keep an eye out for those.

  3. I have a baking question. I decided to substitute a portion of the AP flour for cake flour in my chocolate chip cookie recipe, in hopes of a puffier cookie…they went FLAT! I thought for sure this would be the answer but I am so puzzled. Any suggestions?

    vp5

  4. im a kid making cookeis by myself and was wondering about a flour substitute?? i cant go buy anything. im broke

  5. Well,
    To reply to vp5′s question,
    Did the original recipe use baking powder? If you want the cookies to be “puffier” adding more baking powder is the best bet.

    Thank you for the flour subsitution. I was about to make sponge cake but I ran out of cake flour and I only got all purpose at home and stores close at labor day.

  6. Can you use pastry four in any way as a substitute for cake flour? I really want to make an angel food cake but I can only find pastry flour not cake flour in the local supermarkets that I can use! It sounds like pastry flour is closer to cake flour than all-purpose is, so would it be better to sub. pastry flour for the cake flour then all-purpose?

  7. I have a wonderful recipe for pound cake which calls for SELF-RISING CAKE FLOUR. The only brand I know of is PRESTO, which is only available in certain markets. How can I make regular cake flour into self-rising cake flour?

  8. tks for the effort you put in here I appreciate it!

  9. so jampong!

  10. i am having a hard time finding cake flour help

  11. i am having a hard time finding cake flour help

  12. Thank you for the tip! Used the minus / plus c.s. version for an apple pie crust. Worked out GREAT! Many thanks, again.

  13. I have been making a fantastic chocolate cake (very-very moist) for years, pasted down from grandmother to grandmother. In my experience most chocolate cakes are real chokers. So… after all these years of making the perfect chocolate cake, my light-bulb went off to wonder why I wasn’t using Cake Flour for my wonderful cake.

    The short of it is Cake Flour makes my wonderful cake very dry (as in not just a little dry, but VERY DRY). As it really is not possible to make my wonderfully moist cake any better, I believe the experiment is over, and I will continue to use Gold Medal All Purpose Flour to make cakes more moist than they would be using Cake Flour.

    The best advise here is… stick with whatever type of flour your recipe calls for. If you are really considering trying to substitute one flour for another in your recipe, you really should reconsider if at all possible.

  14. Just sharing – I had my site added to worthbot and amazingly 6 hours later it got listed on Google. Pretty cool trick ha?

  15. HAVE A RECIPE THAT JUST SAY 3 CUP FLOUR.
    WHAT KIND OF FLOUR?
    PLAIN
    ALL POUPOSE
    SELF RISING

  16. I have used the Cake flour in severa recepies of cookies and cakes! IT IS ABSOLUTELY AMASING HOW MUCH BETTER THEY TASTE! Aspessiarly cookies! They become so very tender and crisp it is hard to describe. Now I ONly use cake flour if it is calling for all perpouse. And belive me I am a baking frick1 Bake for 30 years and know thousands of recepies. Sorrry my spelling:((

  17. If I were to substite cake flour for all purpose flour , how much cale flour would I use to equal one cup of all purpose

  18. On a 1-10 scale, how well would it work if i substituted cake flour for all-purpose flour;)

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  20. Wow look at this idiot. I read about him in the newspaper. Did he really think that it would be a good idea to do this? People are crazy

    LONDON — An English dog-owner has been fined after taking his pet for a stroll while driving next to him in his car. Prosecutors said Paul Railton was spotted driving at low speed along a country lane in December, holding his dog’s leash through the car window as the animal trotted alongside.

    Railton pleaded guilty Monday to not being in proper control of a vehicle. His lawyer, Paul Donoghue, said 23-year-old Railton acknowledged “it was a silly thing to do and there was an element of laziness” while exercising his lurcher, a type of crossbred sighthound.

    Railton was ordered by magistrates in Consett, northeast England, to pay a 66 pound ($100) fine, plus costs.

    He also received three more penalty points on his license and is now barred from driving for six months.

  21. I don’t know what to say, but I’ve made the most beautiful award winning cakes using bleached all purpose flour. I once tried cake flour, and I found that the cake was on the dry side, unlike the all purpose flour, which was moist and tender. I ended up using the rest of the cake flour to make fried chicken. So if you’re wondering if you can use all purpose flour to make a cake, the answer is yes, you need no adjustments, contrary to popular beliefs. All purpose means for everything, including cakes and breads. The best angel food cake I ever made, and I won a blue ribbon for it I made with Pillsbury All purpose flour

  22. I’m going to use the 1 cup of all purpose minus 2 Tbsp plus 2 Tbsp of cornstarch in my recipe for date cake. Thanks for the info!

  23. Informative post! I know the flours are different, but I wasn’t quite sure how, so thanks for sharing. I will make sure to use the appropriate flour!

  24. you say stick with the recipe for the type of flour
    I have a 2 recipes for Crusty Cream Cheese Pound Cake, one calls for all-purpose and one cake flour . Everything else is the same. so which one is best? Or does it matter?

  25. What about leaving out the baking powder or baking soda in a recipe if you substitute cake flour for al-purpose flour? Ive heard you do this but I’m not sure if its the soda or powder or both??

  26. Kirsty – Leaving out the leavening is usually recommended when substituting self rising flour for all purpose. When using cake flour (or substituting it for all purpose), you should still use the baking powder or baking soda as recommended by the recipe.

    http://bakingbites.com/2007/08/what-is-self-rising-flour/

  27. I have a recipe for lemon cake and it’s asking for flour. BUT WHAT KIND OF FLOUR? HELP PLEASE

  28. Kimmy its regular all purpose flour

  29. My fruit cake recipe calls for 3 cups of plain flour
    can I substitute cake flour?

  30. Thanks so much for this, I have an old muffin recipe that calls for cake flour and it’s the only recipe that I’ve tried so far that asks for cake flour. This is a life-saver. MY mother would definitely not be happy if I asked for a special flour just for one type of muffins.
    BTW, just a quick question, it says for the opposite transition 2 cups of cake flour plus two tbsp’s, but it doesn’t really specify how much all purpose flour that makes… two cups, right?

  31. I myself HATE cake flour. I hate the acidic/metallic taste that I find in cakes made with cake flour, and the cakey/powdery texture. I always and very successfully replace cake flour with all purpose flour using the formula of 1 cup cake flour = 3/4 cup (12 tbsp) + 2 tbsp cornstarch. It works all the time and the cake is superior. Trust me. Try it yourself. D)

  32. Oops I meant 3/4 cup (12 tbsp) ALL PURPOSE FLOUR + 2 tbsp cornstarch.

  33. @ Regine
    I thought I must be crazy until I read your post! The few cakes I made with cake flour I thought tasted horrible. I double checked if I accidentally doubled the baking soda… What the heck did I do wrong?!? I knew I couldn’t have made the exact same mistake making 3 different kind of cakes. They all had the same unpleasant taste/aftertaste. YOU DESCRIBED THE BAD TASTE EXACTLY!!! Acidic/metallic! I will now try the substitution ratios with AP flour. Thanks for making me know I’m sane! :))) The cake flour definitely tastes different – and I REALLY don’t like it!!!

  34. In Denmark, we have no such things as cake flour and self-rising flour and whatever it is you use for all your pastries and cakes. We simply can’t just go and buy it in the store.
    Besides, I like to know exactly what I’m eating! And, reading some of the comments here saying that it gives off a weird taste to cakes, I’m not sure I want to know what’s in cake flour, and I’m definitely not ever going to use it!!
    So thank you for posting about substitutes. At least I know exactly what corn starch is (;

  35. My grandma is known for making the best cookies around and her secret (not really a seret) is instant vanilla pudding. When makng cookies she pours the dry small box of pudding powder right in the bowl with everything else and it makes the softest and puffiest cookies ever. I highly recommend this tip, this comment isnt totally fitting for this blog but when the comments started coming about making puffy cookies I just thought I would share. Enjoy the best cookie tip I have known since I was a child.

  36. I agree that cake flour just doesn’t produce good baking results.
    The taste is just awful!! Use the 3/4 cup A/P flour + 2 Tbsp cornstarch.
    You won’t regret it. I may not have any blue ribbons, but I’ve been baking for 40 years!!! :-)

  37. Thank you for your very clear, informative explanation.

  38. Thank you very much for this. made yellow cake for my sisters birthday, turned out very well. :)

  39. I came here looking for cake flour substitute, but happened to see the post about adding vanilla instant pudding to cookies.

    My daughter and I made cookies the other day with pudding mix in them, and we both thought they tasted like store-bought cookies, with artificial vanilla! I liked the texture, but not the flavor.

  40. I was one of those rare instances that needed AP flour but only had cake flour!! Thanks for the help, much appreciated. And happy baking!!

  41. Could someone please tell me what 2 cups of ap flour is equal to in cake flour?
    My cake was too dense with two cups of cake flour same with My muffin s. I was so upset i wanted to cry! This could be bc I am pregnant too

    Thanks a bunch!

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