Taking Your Baking to the Next Level with Cake Flour: A Comprehensive Guide
Baking makes delicious food like cakes, cookies, biscuits, and bread from flour. The flour, made from grains or finely milled wheat, gives the baked goods structure. However, the structural support required for different baked goods is additional. By choosing cake flour, for instance, to bake, your baking process and baked product will be unique.
What Is Cake Flour?
Cake flour is flour produced from soft-milled wheat. The milled grain is then sifted to ensure only the fine extra texture remains. The fineness ensures that the baked goods, as a result, are a moist, airy crumb.
Soft red winter wheat and soft white wheat make cake flour. This is because these two wheat varieties have a low protein content of 6 to 8%. Both grains are plump and soft, and they grind efficiently when compared to their counterparts, hard wheat.
Gluten is another name for the protein content found in flour. It acts as a binding agent that helps develop the baked goods’ structure and hold the ingredients together. The amount of gluten is different in each type of flour. Of all the different kinds of flour, cake flour has the lowest gluten content.
Difference Between Cake Flour and Other Types of Flour
What differentiates cake flour from other flour is that it is made of different types of wheat and is milled to different textures. Also, the protein and starch content of each flour differ. Below is the protein content of varying flour types to help differentiate between them:
- Cake flour: 6 to 8% protein content
- Pastry flour: 9% protein content
- All-purpose flour: 9 to 12% protein content
- Bread flour: 12 to 15% protein content
It must be noted that the protein content of each flour differs by brand. The cake flour contains more starch if it has a lower protein content. Also, baked goods made with cake flour are more tender and soft because of the low level of gluten.
Is Cake Flour Bleached or Unbleached?
When considering cake flour as the recipe for your baked goods, you must know if it is bleached or unbleached. Typically, cake flour is bleached. This prohibits gluten formation and weakens the proteins.
Generally, bleached flours absorb more water, so the batters are usually thicker. However, the bleached flour you purchase in the supermarket is chlorine-free. When chlorine is added to flour products, the flour is treated with highly low-level exposure to chlorine gas. The manufacturers do this to create a chain reaction in the final product.
The chemical reaction changes the characteristics of the flour, and so is the chlorine itself. Other compounds such as chlorite, hypochlorous acid, and chloride are formed. Chlorite is naturally found in unbleached flour; our immune cells contain hypochlorous acid, while chloride is an electrolyte that can be found in different products.
Furthermore, bleached flour absorbs more moisture in the dough or batter to make them easier to handle or less sticky. This helps to reduce the excessive spread of baked goods in baked products like cookies. Additionally, the height and structure of cakes are improved as a result. It won’t kill the yeast and will make the flour more shelf stable.
Cake Flour Substitutes and Other Flour Types for Baking
There are different types of flour, and they can be used in place of one another. If you are looking for an alternative to cake flour, you should easily find it. However, the flour type you use as a substitute for cake flour should have similar protein content. This means that some flours are not suitable to be substituted for cake flour.
Here are some other types of flour and their suitability to be used instead of cake flour:
All-purpose flour is the most common type of flour you will find around. It has a protein content higher than cake flour by about 3 to 5%. Therefore, to use it as a substitute for cake flour, you will need to lower the protein by mixing it with cornstarch.
Additionally, all-purpose flour is suitable for almost all baked goods recipes. This is because of its versatility, and the result of baked products made of it is usually decent.
Whole wheat flour
Whole wheat flour differs from most flour because it is produced by milling the entire wheat grain. This is unlike many other flours made from only the endosperm.
Whole wheat flour has a protein content of about 14%. Due to the vast difference in protein content compared to cake flour, it should not be used as a substitute.
Self-rising flour is made by mixing a rising agent with all-purpose flour. The agent is typically a dash of salt and baking powder. As a result, there is no need for you to add either agent to self-rising flour in any recipe.
Self-rising flour is a good substitute for cake flour because it has a low protein content. However, you must ensure that you follow the recipe correctly so that you get the desired final product. This flour type is ideal for making biscuits.
A good pastry flour alternative for baking is a mix of cake flour and all-purpose flour. Pastry flour is similar to both cake flour and all-purpose flour.
Due to the composition of pastry flour, it is a good substitute for cake flour. Although it is not easy to find, it is the best substitute for cake flour in any baking recipe.
Flour is the primary ingredient for any baking recipe. Cake flour is one of the different types of flour with the lowest protein content. Due to its composition, you can make other baked products that are healthy for people with edibles that are low in gluten.