What’s The Difference Between All-Purpose and Cake Flour?

Baking | October 9, 2008 | By

bread dough

Baking Basics: Flour

Now that fall is on it’s way, I’m reminded of how much I enjoy baking. There is nothing better than baking bread on a cold and cloudy Sunday afternoon! For that reason, I’ll be doing a series of posts that cover some simple baking basics. First up: Flour!

More on flour basics after the jump…

So what are the differences between different types of flours? A couple of things to keep in mind:

Protein Content

Generally speaking, flour is made up of hard and soft wheat. Hard wheat contains more protein and gluten which produces more structured and chewy breads and cookies. Softer wheat on the other hand has less protein and gluten which produces lighter, more tender structures.

All-purpose Flour

All-purpose flour is used like the name suggests—for many purposes. All-purpose flour is a combination of soft and hard flours which makes it ideal for a variety of baking and cooking needs.

Cake Flour

Cake flour is simply soft wheat flour which will produce soft, tender, and crumbly cakes.

Bleached Vs. Un-Bleached

Bleached flour has been treated with bleach to whiten the flour. Some bakers suggest that this weakens the protein content of the flour and that it also lowers the nutritional value.

Flour Tips!

– If your recipe calls for cake flour and you have only all-purpose flour on hand, you can substitute 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour for 1 cup of cake flour

– If you need all-purpose flour and have only cake flour on hand, substitute 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of cake flour for 1 cup of all-purpose flour.

– Bread flour has a higher gluten-forming protein content, making the dough nice and elastic. This makes it ideal for bread-making.