How to Make Cake Flour

What’s your reaction when you see a recipe that calls for cake flour? Do you dismiss it immediately cause you know you definitely don’t have cake flour laying around or do you bookmark it immediately knowing your stash of cake flour in the pantry needs to see the light?

I kind of fall somewhere in the middle. I keep cake flour on hand far more than I did, say, five years ago, because I’ve come to be a big believer in the science of baking and there are times that cake flour is irreplaceable (imagine me shaking my finger at you when you try to use all-purpose flour!). But I definitely don’t keep the storebought stuff around enough to make a recipe with cake flour just on a whim.

That is, until I started making my own cake flour. Now? Well, bring on the cake flour recipes, baby, because I’m totally prepared.

And I want you to be prepared, too (especially since I’m unveiling my perfected yellow cake recipe this week and this post may or may not be your salvation).

There are two basic ways to make your own cake flour. The first method uses a measuring cup and tablespoon and the second method uses a scale. My preferred method is the second, because a) I love my inexpensive kitchen scale and b) it is a bit more accurate than measuring with a cup since we all tend to measure differently which means there could be varying amounts of flour in that cup from person to person. However, either way will work, especially with the details I’ve given below. So read them, m’kay?

How to Make Cake FlourHere are a few notes about this method:
-For all that is good and holy, do not pack the flour into the measuring cup or your cake flour ratios (of flour to cornstarch) will be way off. Lightly measure the flour into the cup. Usually I employ the dip-and-sweep method of measuring flour but for this cake flour substitution, I spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level off.
-Don’t leave off the sifting step. In fact, sift twice! That’s right, twice. Think of it as a bit of wrist exercise and who doesn’t need that every once in a while, right? Right.
-Once you’ve sifted (twice, remember?), use the sifted homemade cake flour in the place of one cup commercial cake flour called for in a recipe.

How to Make Cake FlourSome more details:
-I’m working with the assumption (which is generally recognized by everyone from America’s Test Kitchen to Martha Stewart) that a cup of cake flour weighs 4 ounces.
-In commercial cake flour, the ratio of flour to cornstarch is about 82% to 18%. If thinking of baking in percentages completely freaks you out, don’t worry, I already did all the math for you in the above tutorial. It’s a bit easier to use grams than ounces for more precise amounts – in the end, the cup of homemade cake flour should weigh 113 grams/4 ounces.
-Just like the first method, sift like crazy! Twice, if possible.
-Once you’ve sifted, use the sifted homemade cake flour in place of one cup commercial cake flour in a recipe (and of course you can make more than 1 cup of cake flour at a time, just increase the amounts accordingly).

So there you go! Homemade cake flour. And it’s easy as can be.

37 Responses to Kitchen Tip: How to Easily Make Your Own Cake Flour {Two Methods}

  1. Laura says:

    Very interesting, but I’m now a little confused. In my country, the default flour sold is labeled “cake flour” (http://www.saskoflour.co.za/products.php?category_id=1&id=1), which I use for almost all recipes (except for those needing self-raising flour). What should I use for american recipes specifying all-purpose flour? Or is the reverse swap alright?

  2. Sheila says:

    Love this! Thank you for sharing your knowledge, talent, and skill!

  3. Patrick says:

    Laura — take a look here: http://culinaryarts.about.com/b/2009/03/05/a-substitute-for-all-purpose-flour.htm
    He suggests that it depends on what you’re making.

  4. Laura says:

    Thanks Patrick :)

  5. Annette M. says:

    I have always wondered what the difference was between cake flour and regular flour was. Whenever I have seen a recipe with cake flour in it I always just use regular flour and hope for the best. But once again you are helping me to be a better, more informed cook for my family.

  6. Becca B. says:

    Love this! Thanks. Just flipped past a recipe in ATK that I wanted to make but didn’t have cake flour. This is perfect. Just to throw a wrench in things, King Arthur Flour uses 4 1/4 oz as 1 cup. I really hate that two of my favorite baking sources treat a cup of flour differently. I know you use KAF too, so just FYI. :-)

    • Mel says:

      Becca – thanks for that piece of info about KAF! I suppose it will be easy to modify for a KAF recipe and increase the amount (if using the weighing method of homemade cake flour) by 1/4 ounce. I agree it’s annoying to have so many points of reference. Don’t even get me started on all-purpose flour (the “experts” range anywhere from 4 to 5 ounces!).

  7. Char R says:

    GREAT information! I seldom have cake flour on hand but will sometimes see a recipe that calls for it. NOW I can try these recipes without going out to buy a special kind of flour. This is just another reason why I think your site is one of the best out there!! Also, I’m trying that spinach recipe tomorrow night. Looks and sounds so yummy!

  8. Dawn says:

    Love this tip of measuring with a scale. Sooooo much easier than working with cups. You are a kitchen goddess!

  9. Alisha says:

    Please tell me this is not an April Fool’s day post. You don’t usually post on Tuesdays and homemade cake flour would be very handy …

  10. Theresa says:

    Just wondering if there’s a reason why you fill the measuring cup with flour and remove some to add the cornstarch instead of putting the cornstarch in the measuring cup first, then adding enough flour to make 1 cup. My logic tells me to do it the second way, but I may well be missing something!

    • Mel says:

      Theresa – your logic is spot on! That method would work quite well if you aren’t dipping the cup into a container/bag of flour.

  11. Mitchel Kadish says:

    You must be a mind reader! I was just looking at recipes for cake flour. The store brands are relatively expensive, as flour goes, and I’m seeing more recipes that call for cake flour.

    I’ve found that weighing baking ingredients achieves far better results than volume measurements. By all means, buy a good kitchen scale. It will pay for itself in a very short period of time.

  12. Mel says:

    I’m so glad you did this. I once bought a packet of cake flour and I was so appalled by the chemical smell of it I vowed never to use it. I like my cakes to be full of good old plain and simple ingredients … and cake flour is not one of them … or at least it doesn’t smell like one of them! As a result I always discard the recipes with cake flour – which is a shame – but now I have a solution. Thank you.

  13. LaVon says:

    Thank you for this recipe for cake flour! I don’t want to go out and buy some and not know what to do with the rest. I will start looking at making recipes with cake flour now. Thank you for your great recipes!

  14. This is seriously awesome! Thanks!!!

  15. Portia says:

    How did I not know this!? Thanks for sharing!

  16. ChristyK says:

    Great information! Thx!

  17. Regan says:

    Thanks so much for this info! You have become my go-to gal for everything foodie! :o)

  18. Beth B says:

    Thanks, its good to know in case you run out or short. I typically buy cake flour KA kind. But in a pinch this is great to know. Thanks Mel.

  19. Terri A says:

    Love this. Thanks!

  20. Rita Peters says:

    But what I’d like to know is what difference the corn starch makes? What is going on chemically in these recipes that it needs the cornstarch? Obviously it’s not just the reduction in the AP flour or we could just reduce the flour we put in. So what is it?

    So in spite of my questions, thank you for posting this!

    • Mel says:

      Rita – Good question – basically I don’t know the exact science behind it except that cake flour is a very low protein flour. By subbing some of the flour with cornstarch it lowers the protein as well as helps the flour be more fine in texture.

  21. Debbie says:

    I love love love all your tips and recipes! I have pinned so many of them I am thinking of creating a whole board just for you!

  22. Thanks for posting the cake flour substitutions. My daughter bought me a food scale for Christmas one year, and I use it a lot for baking . best way to go. King Arthur Flour also has a conversion list for not only different flours, but for dried fruit, nuts, dry cereal, etc. It comes in very handy when exact measurements are desired by weight. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe/master-weight-chart.html

  23. So interesting! I make my own self-rising flour but didn’t know you could make your own cake flour. I’m so glad you have the measurement method. I have tablespoons from different parts of the world – so some are 15ml and some are 20ml. Measuring will take out the “now where did I get this spoon from!”

  24. Shelby says:

    Sincerely, thank you for this information. So simple, so very useful.

  25. Shauni says:

    Mel- this has nothing to do with this recipe, just wondering- didn’t you used to have a recipe for lemon poppyseed bread with a glaze? I’ve made a good one in the past and could have sworn it came from you, but now I’m looking all over your site and can’t find it. If you don’t have one, can you suggest a good recipe? Thanks!!

  26. Shauni says:

    Yeah that’s it! THANK YOU!! The lemon yogurt bread looks fantastic too, can’t wait to try it.

  27. Jenny says:

    My son is allergic to corn products. Is there anything else that can be subbed for the corn starch?
    Thanks for all the great recipes! We love them at our house!!!

    • Mel says:

      Jenny – Good question. You will probably have to google a non-corn alternative to cornstarch and test it out. Sorry I’m not more help.

  28. RC says:

    Thanks so much for posting this. I would have to drive 17 miles or further to the store for cake flour as would many others living in rural areas In the past when I saw a great recipe and it listed cake flour, I’d forget it and move on. Thanks again!

  29. Aahhh!! Thank you so much for posting this! I love that you did it with the scale too, it is so much better getting those exact numbers.

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