Why oh why is it so impossible to find Cake Flour outside of the US?
I want to scream it from the top of a mountain to all the countries to PLEASE start selling Cake Flour!
Why is this such a big deal to me? Because Cake Flour is a special flour that works wonders in the final result in your baked goods (when the recipe calls for it of course). I want to be clear on that point “when the recipe calls for it”.
Just because I said it is a wonderful flour doesn’t mean it is to be used all the time, just like bread flour and all purpose flour have their respective places too.
So, can I use self rising flour instead of cake flour?
I get this question so much and as usual I answer “Yes, but……………………”
I prefer to stick to recipes. At least for my first attempt at a new recipe; then I can change it as I see fit.
It is written a certain way for a reason.
That reason being, that is has been formulated to produce the best possible outcome imaginable by the author of said recipe (or at least we hope! Right!?)
I can’t tell you how many times I get comments saying “The recipe didn’t work out for, can you tell me why?”
I proceed to ask a series of questions, with the main one being, “Did you use all the same ingredients that I used?”
Nine times out of ten they say, “Well no… I changed this and I changed that. I didn’t have this so I used that.”
*Sigh…..If you start to change this with that, well…what do you think is going to happen?
It will no longer result in the optimal outcome as intended by the author of the recipe.
I do however understand the need to make substitutions based on what is (or rather is not) available to you in your particular area of the world.
I was appalled when I learned that the UK (and many other countries for that matter) did not have Cake Flour! This is a tragedy!
I have also come to learn that many of you think Cake Flour and Self Rising flour are one and the same, or at least very interchangeable. This is NOT TRUE.
Let’s talk about flour for a moment.
Cake flour generally has 7% – 8.5% protein. It is bleached so therefore weakens the proteins and offers a more delicate end product, like chiffon and angel food cakes and many cakes that call for this flour. Recently though King Arthur has developed a cake flour that is NOT bleached! This is breaking news because until now cake flour has always been bleached.
Self-Rising flour has 8-9% protein and contains soft flour similar to a cake or pastry flour plus baking powder and salt. I do not use this type of flour. Note: If you do choose to use self rise flour there is a risk of it being stored too long both in the market and in your own pantry, causing the baking powder to lose its power and your baked goods will not rise. * I do not use self rising flour and I do not recommend you use it in my recipes. However, many of you will insist, and so if you DO use it here please note that you may not get the exact result that my recipes are intended to come out as.
Self rising flour has approximately 1 teaspoon – 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and roughly 1/4 teaspoon of salt per 1 cup of flour.
You see how it is not exact? Not to mention it varies by manufacturer too! Remember baking is an EXACT SCIENCE, so if you decide to use a self rise flour in place of my specified ingredients, please adjust the baking powder and salt accordingly.
All-purpose flour – has a 10-12% protein content and is made from a blend of hard and soft wheat flours. They can be bleached or unbleached.
And whether it is bleached or not, it is still interchangeable in your recipe without much difference.
Bleaching is a chemical process that will lighten and whiten flour while also lowering its protein count. I do not find much difference in the final results of baked goods from using bleached or non bleached flour besides eliminating Chlorine Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Chlorine, Calcium Peroxide, Azodicarbonamide, and/or Benzoyl Peroxide from my recipes
You will notice I use All Purpose flour often in cake recipes that I find need more strength and structure.
Good for making cakes, cookies, breads, and pastries.
So all of this to answer the question…..can I use self rising flour instead of all purpose or plain flour?
Well, yes and no. You just need to understand WHY.
- Cake Flour = Weak low gluten, Soft smooth texture and pure white in color.
Best for what it is named and that is CAKE
- Pastry Flour = Weak low gluten but is slightly stronger then cake flour, creamy white in color.
For pie dough’s, some cookies, biscuits, and muffins.
- European Flour Types use a grading system
- T45 and T55 = white wheat flours – breads and pastries
- T65 = high-gluten flours
- T80, T110 and T150 = whole wheat flours of increasing darkness
- T170 = dark rye flour
- All-Purpose or Plain Flour = General purpose flour, slightly weaker than bread flour, but stronger than cake flour
- Self-Rising Flour = White flour that has baking powder and sometimes salt added.
Downside to this is over time baking powder loses its aerating or leavening power with time, so the quality of the baked goods is unpredictable.
- To make your own version of a softer Cake Style Flour:
Measure out 1 cup of all purpose or plain flour.
TAKE OUT 2 Tablespoons and return it to the bin.
Next add 2 Tablespoons of Corn Starch.
Sift this mixture 2 times through a fine mesh sieve and you now have 1 Cup of Cake Flour to use in recipes calling for such.
For those weighing your recipes- 114g All Purpose or Plain Flour + 20g Cornstarch
A NOTE ON FLOUR IN THE UK:
In the UK self raising flour is called self raising flour. It consists of flour, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and cream of tartar. It can have other ingredients to improve the carbon dioxide eg tartaric acid, calcium phosphate, no salt!!! It is generally called baking powder. It is heavier than cake flour.
Plain flour has no leavening = All Purpose, is heavier than cake flour
Cake flour plain = Extra fine flour 00 grade without leavening, either made by McDougals or Home Pride
Cake flour self raising = Extra fine 00 grade with leavening also made by McDougals/ Home Pride
Extra fine 000 grade used for making sauces, custards, gravy
Looks almost like corn flour/corn starch
Quickest acting baking powder in the UK is Dr Oekter which is activated when wet even at room temperature.
In the USA Rumford’s baking powder contains calcium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate and corn starch which is an anti caking agent.