RELATED: The ultimate chocolate cake recipe
What is cake flour in Australia?
Cake flour is characterised by a finer and softer grind and a lower protein content (around 7-9%), which produces a tender and delicate texture that’s highly desired in cakes. In Australia, cake flour is also known as soft flour.
Pastry flour is slightly different in that it has a slightly higher protein content (while still being lower than most all-purpose or bread flours), although some brands may sell a combo pastry-cake-biscuit flour that you can use for a variety of baked goods. Cake flour is usually bleached white, which contributes to its delicateness.
Is cake flour self-raising flour?
If you don’t have a lot of time, self-raising flour is a great time-saving choice. Your dough will naturally rise on its own without yeast. Self-raising flour is different from cake flour (resembling the higher-protein all-purpose flour more), and should only be used if the recipe specifically calls for it. Self-raising flour is usually a combination of plain flour and a leavening agent, such as baking powder.
Cake flour vs plain flour vs other kinds of flour
As the name implies, cake flour is best used when making cakes at home. But it’s not the only baked good that can benefit from the airy, tender texture that cake flour provides. You can also use cake flour in pancakes, biscuits, muffins, and scones.
Plain flour, a.k.a. all-purpose flour, is versatile enough to work in most recipes. It’s a great choice for goods that need the right balance of soft yet chewy, like cookies or crusts.
Then there’s hard flour, also known as bread flour or baker’s flour. This is best used for baked goods that require some level of chewiness and ‘structure’, like with homemade bread or pizza dough.
Another alternative is whole wheat flour. Cake flour is made out of refined white flour, which doesn’t use all the parts of the wheat. Whole wheat flours tend to be richer in nutrients and has the same ‘hardness’ as bread flour. There are whole wheat cake flours that you can use in pastries and baked goods but expect them to be denser than their refined white flour counterparts.
How to make cake flour at home
If you don’t have cake flour or can’t find it at your nearest grocery, don’t fret! It’s actually quite easy to make your own cake flour, using just two ingredients you probably already have at home.
All you have to do is measure out one cup of all-purpose flour. Then, spoon out two tablespoons of flour. Add in two tablespoons of cornstarch (you can also use arrowroot powder, according to some sources). Do this for every one cup of cake flour in the recipe. Make sure to sift the flour repeatedly to ensure that it’s properly mixed in!
The cornstarch stops the gluten from forming as much, which is what gives it that cakey, spongey texture. If you use arrowroot, just keep in mind that your cake might cook faster and be moister than homemade cake flour with cornstarch.
Cake flour substitutes
Cake flour is NOT gluten-free, so if you have gluten sensitivities or would just prefer to cut gluten out of your diet, here are some alternatives to cake flour:
- Rice flour
- Oat flour
- Soy flour
- Tapioca flour
- Almond flour
- Coconut flour
Where to buy cake flour in Australia
Your local Woolworths is a great place to find cake flour. Check out the Lighthouse Cake Flour (which can also be used for biscuits and pastries). A kilogram retails for just $AUD 3.65.
Another alternative is to head to Coles. In addition to its standard version, you can also grab a low-protein self-raising flour for $AUD 3.75 per kilogram, which can be used for sponge cakes and airy buns.
Aldi has a wide range of flours, including gluten-free and self-raising variants. Check out their stores for their available cake flours, which also includes products from the Lighthouse brand.
Recipes that use cake flour
Take note that most of these recipes use self-raising flour.
For baking delicious cakes, scones, muffins, biscuits, and other crumbly pastries, cake flour comes out as a clear winner. It produces more tender and moist baked goods, especially when compared to other kinds of flour. You can also easily make your own cake flour at home, so everyone can level up their baking game!