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What is pastry flour?

KA pastry flourCake flour, all purpose flour and bread flour are the three types of flour that you’ll most often see when reading through recipes. Once in a while, you might notice a wild card and see that a recipe calls for pastry flour, instead. Pastry flour is a high-starch and low-protein flour. It falls somewhere between the (average) 8% protein content of cake flour and the 10-11% protein content of all purpose flour. This means that it is similar to, but not the same as, cake flour. It is often used in pastry and other baking applications where a very tender finished product is desired, as low protein flours will develop less gluten when worked. If you don’t have pastry flour, you can easily make pastry flour by mixing half cake flour and half all purpose flour in a recipe. It shouldn’t be directly substituted for or with cake flour (lower protein, less gluten) or all purpose flour (higher protein, more gluten), as it will change the texture of your finished product. It isn’t always carried by every grocery store, but you can usually find it in the baking aisle of a specialty grocery store that carries a wider range of products and it can be ordered online, as well.

Whole wheat pastry flour is a low-protein flour that is made from whole grains. Many cookbooks that focus on whole grains encourage bakers to use this type of flour because it is much softer and more finely-textured than regular whole wheat flour, and baked goods made with it will have a similar consistency to those made with regular white flour. A good substitution in this case is to mix half all purpose flour with half whole wheat flour in your recipe.

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  • Cookie
    October 17, 2008

    Thanks for the explanation! I read somewhere that Pastry Flour is pretty much the same as Cake Flour. Is that true?

  • Rachel
    October 17, 2008

    I just wanted to tell you how much I LOVE your site! I learn so much here and your inventive recipes are fantastic! The vampire cookies are amazing! I’ll be linking to a few of your creations today. I hope it sends you a few extra visits.

  • Grand Turk Travel
    October 17, 2008

    Love your site. I have been looking forever for this kind of information on flour. Having traveled a lot I found that not all the same kind of flour is available in all countries.


  • Jen
    October 18, 2008

    living in the UK i would like to know what is cake flour? we only have plain and self raising.

  • Damaris
    October 19, 2008

    Hi, I have just made your recipe for bloody orange and banana cake and it turned out quite amazing. I actually used regular oranges because I can’t find bloody oranges where I live, but it was still really tasty. Your recipes are really fantastic and aren’t so difficult to adapt as many recipes from foreign blogs that I like but can’t make at home. I live in Brasil and some ingredients are unavailable, hard to find or really expensive, some american bloggers (specially in bread recipes) use ounces, which is kind of complicate to me to convert. So, thanks for posting your amazing recipes in such an easy way that everyone can make.

  • Needful Things
    February 18, 2012

    Hi, I can’t find whole wheat pastry flour where I live so was wondering if I can make homemade cake flour (WW) the same way as described by you in this post: http://bakingbites.com/2010/11/what-is-cake-flour/ ?

  • Elzah
    March 28, 2012

    Thank you so much for the info on whole wheat pastry flour.
    I found a receipe that needed it and had clue.

  • Fredo
    April 23, 2012

    I’ve always learned that pastry flour is made with a 2 to 1 ratio of all purpose, and cake flour, not 50/50. Cake flour can be made by elliminating 2 TBL per cup of all purpose, and adding 2 TBL of corn starch.

  • Jacquie
    December 18, 2012

    IF only I had read this earlier in the week! The 10 dozen cookies I made with cake flour instead of pastry flour would have turned out.
    I have been scratching my head trying to figure out why my recipe didnt work this time. I thought cake and pastry flour were the same thing but just called different things by manufacturers. I learned the hard way I was wrong.

  • Squashmush
    January 31, 2010

    […] vegetable oil 3 eggs 1¾ c. sugar 1 T. vanilla extract 1½ c. all purpose flour ½ c. whole wheat pastry flour 2 t. baking soda ¼ t. salt powdered sugar for […]

  • […] note, if you’re looking into the difference between flours, and wondering why I often go for whole wheat pastry flour – I do so because pastry flour is made from whole grains.  It’s much softer and more […]

  • […] vegetable oil 3 eggs 1¾ c. sugar 1 T. vanilla extract 1½ c. all purpose flour ½ c. whole wheat pastry flour 2 t. baking soda ¼ t. salt powdered sugar for […]

  • […] Foods to get whole wheat pastry flour. This is something that I had never used before. According to this site, pastry […]

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