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How to Substitute All Purpose Flour for Cake Flour

Scooping 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 rules of substitution are:

1 cup of cake flour is equivalent to 1 cup of all purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons (1 cup – 2 tbsp)

1 cup of all purpose flour is equivalent to 1 cup of cake flour plus 2 tablespoons (1 cup + 2 tbsp)

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.

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  • Karen
    May 2, 2007

    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.

  • Nicole
    May 7, 2007

    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.

  • vp5
    November 21, 2007

    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?


  • Corgan
    August 27, 2008

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

  • Sakura
    September 1, 2008

    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.

  • emily
    December 12, 2008

    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?

  • Betsy Scotto
    June 10, 2009

    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?

  • MichaellaS
    July 20, 2009

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

  • Anonymous
    August 2, 2009

    so jampong!

  • ursula
    August 29, 2009

    i am having a hard time finding cake flour help

  • ursula
    August 29, 2009

    i am having a hard time finding cake flour help

  • Anonymous
    September 20, 2009

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

  • BeachBum
    September 24, 2009

    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.

  • lalsintatly
    November 24, 2009

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

    November 28, 2009


  • Alla
    January 12, 2010

    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:((

  • Anonymous
    February 4, 2010

    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

  • BakerLover
    February 20, 2010

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

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    February 27, 2010

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    Will you Watch?

  • PlaypeNep
    March 2, 2010

    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.

  • Guillermina
    October 7, 2010

    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

  • CherylK
    November 22, 2010

    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!

  • Jessie
    December 11, 2010

    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!

  • dee
    May 7, 2011

    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?

  • Kirsty
    September 29, 2011

    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??

  • Nicole
    September 29, 2011

    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.


  • kimmy
    November 22, 2011

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

  • Ruth
    November 23, 2011

    Kimmy its regular all purpose flour

  • Nancy
    December 4, 2011

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

  • Karyssa
    December 8, 2011

    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?

  • Regine
    March 2, 2012

    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)

  • Regine
    March 2, 2012

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

  • Phoenix Scott
    June 15, 2012

    @ 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!!!

  • Anna W.
    September 23, 2012

    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 (;

  • Carolle
    June 11, 2013

    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.

  • Laurie
    June 27, 2013

    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!!! 🙂

  • Joanne
    July 18, 2013

    Thank you for your very clear, informative explanation.

  • Colette
    February 21, 2014

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

  • joy moran
    April 18, 2014

    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.

  • WBS
    April 24, 2014

    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!!

  • Emily M
    July 31, 2014

    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!

  • Hope
    March 24, 2015

    I substituted all purpose flour for cake flour because I couldn’t find cake flour at the store. I used the variation using corn starch because I happen to have corn starch in the pantry. I must say it worked perfectly. Thank you.

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