28 July 2015

How to make your own cake flour

I started seeing cake flour being use on TV cooking shows about a year ago and I've seen bulk cake flour once but never bought it because of the additives it had in it. So when I was at the supermarket and saw an additive-free cake flour recently, I decided to try it. Cake flour has less protein (gluten) in it than plain/all purpose flour does so it gives a softer texture. If you over beat cake batter made with plain/all purpose or self-raising flour, the extra beating will develop the gluten and instead of having a softly textured cake, it will be firmer.

The cake flour is the Lighthouse brand, sold at Woolworths and probably Coles as well. It's the Lighthouse Biscuit, Pastry and Cake plain flour and because it's plain flour, it contains no rising agent so you have to add baking powder. I use 1 teaspoon of baking powder per one cup of flour.

I made my usual whole orange cake using cake flour and I have to say the texture was a bit softer, but I didn't think it made enough of a difference to warrant the extra expense. I make my orange cake in a swiss roll tin so it doesn't rise much and spreads out. I cut it into squares. Generally, doing this the cake will last us five or six days but after three or four days the cake is beyond its best. Often I freeze half the cake to get around that.  However, using the cake flour I was surprised to find the cake was soft and fresh until the end. There are no additives, except for niacin, which is vitamin B3, so I don't worry about that.  When I saw the freshness of the cake was extended, I thought I might use cake flour, even at the added cost.  BTW, I used the same flour for the biscuits I made with Jamie but it made no difference to the taste or the freshness.

I did some research into cake flour and found you can make it yourself at home, using plain/all purpose flour and cornflour.  I made a cake with this homemade flour and it's as good as the Lighthouse brand. I'll see over the coming days if it lasts as well as the orange cake did.

Recipe for whole orange cake.

According to thekitchn.com, to make your own cake flour at home take one cup of plain/all purpose flour and remove two tablespoons of flour. Then add two tablespoons of cornflour/cornstarch and sift it all together thoroughly.  Don't forget to add your baking powder to the flour before you sift.

It always pays to do your research and if this flour works as I think it will, extending the life of my cakes, I'll make up a jar of it and use that instead of buying Lighthouse flour. Lighthouse flour is $3.95/kilo and I buy Aldi plain flour for under $1 a kilo.  It's a saving of about two dollars for each kilo of flour I buy, so the savings will be there in the long run.

To make up a kilo/2.2lbs of cake flour:
  1. Measure out 4 cups plain/all purpose flour, then remove 8 tablespoons of flour
  2. Add 8 tablespoons of cornflour/cornstarch
  3. Add 4 teaspoons of baking powder
  4. Sift together.
What is your experience of cake flour?


  1. Hi Rhonda
    I was very sad when I read your last post as you said that you might not be back this week as you were busy with your book but here you are again - YIPEE!!! LOL!!
    Now that I have had my comforting Down To Earth fix (yes I really am addicted to your blog!!!) I can now relax.....ahhhhh!!

    Cake flour - I have bought the expensive stuff but because of the price I will not buy it regularly. I can't tell you if it made my cakes last longer as cakes in our house get eaten on the day of making usually!!
    I have got a tip for you though instead of sifting the flours together you could try whisking them - I heard on a cookery programme that it does the same thing! (I suppose that it gets air into the flour like sifting does)
    Your orange cake is making my mouth water but there is one problem - I have got a cake mixer but not a food processor. Do you think that it is worth the investment as there are some very cheap food processors on the market now?

    I hope that you get the last of your book reading proofed so that you can relax into your simple way of life again with no distractions.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us today Rhonda and have a lovely week.

    1. Hi Eve. The manuscript was supposed to arrive via courier yesterday but it's been delayed. It should be here this morning. I use my food processor quite a bit. I process bread for bread crumbs, make coleslaw, fish cakes, stuffing, pasta and cakes with the food processor. You don't need a big one, there are small and medium sized processors on the market now.

  2. Hi Rhonda, your orange cake is mouth watering. I can't wait to make it. I usually don't use cake flour so this will be a new experience for me. Thanks for sharing your research. Have a great day.

  3. I don't make enough cakes to use different flour, but I do remember my mother in law making her sponge cakes and adding corn flour. With 6 young children plus 2 older visiting with wives, her sponges didn't last long enough to compare softness and freshness, but she did win lots of show awards for them, so maybe there's something to the cake flour idea. Is your orange cake recipe on the blog somewhere or would you mind sharing if you have time ....I'm bringing back a bag of oranges every day from the new house, have been making orange and almond cake, but the almond meal is expensive. Thanks Rhonda.

  4. It's ok Rhonda, I did a search and found your orange cake recipe, and have it Pinned. thanks.

  5. That's interesting, one of our Australian TV cooks was explaining all the uses of different flours, he said that here in Australia the cheapest flours are made of the lowest protein wheat!
    I've found though, whatever the flour, adding a bit of cornflour, wheaten or corn, always makes for softer cakes and I love the look of that orange cake!

  6. Thanks for this tip Rhonda :) I don't use cake flour but will start adding some cornflour, warm regards, Jan x p.s. I adore that orange cake recipe

  7. What an interesting post I'll have to give it a go. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

  8. Thanks for the tip Rhonda! I purchase organic flour in bulk and use it for everything. Now I'll add cornflour when using it for cakes.
    We have just purchased a mill and using it to mill wheat and oats. The kids are just fascinated to see it in action. (So am I!)

  9. I find this very interesting as our cheapest everyday flour is what you would term cake and pastry flour, and is available as plain or self raising. I think it is because due to the Britsh climate our wheat is lower in gluten. We have to pay more for flour which is high in gluten and we call it strong flour and it is made from imported wheat, often from Canada I think.

    Personally I think that adding cornflour would not produce quite the same result as a lower gluten flour, when I have used recipes which include cornflour the results are lighter and make crisper biscuits, bit I also think it can give a slightly different flavour and can leave a certain feel in the mouth which cake flour does not. However all that sais, as the price difference is so great for you, then perhaps it is at least worth testing it out.

  10. I'm in the U. S. I do buy cake flour but I buy it from King Arthur. They carry two cake flours, one regular and bleached and one that is unbleached. I buy my cake flour from them as I can get the unbleached. I only use cake flour on cakes that call for it. You cannot always substitute cake flour for all-purpose flour and have a good result. Sometimes you might even end with a disaster. It keeps well though and I like to have it on hand.

  11. Interesting.
    I'll never used flour with additives, I simply don't know if we can buy something like that in germany.
    Adding (extra) starch to special recipes is common here. Using different kinds of baking powder as well.

    Reading your title, I thought you'll show how to get your own flour by milling grain on different machines in different fineness :)
    That's what I did often.

  12. I keep cake flour for Angel Food cakes and I don't use it for anything else. I have been leery of subbing homemade because of the overall expense of the other ingredients which I do not want to waste. Perhaps the homemade would be worth keeping for other cakes if your experiment proves to keep them better.

    My trick for keeping cookies (biscuits) better is to use half whole wheat flour. It makes them chewy and keeps them fresh for a good week on the counter.

  13. I never knew what cake flour was, we don´t have it in Germany. I also never saw self-rising flour in our supermarkets. I will definitely try your recipe!

  14. Can I ask you to clarify for our international readers, what size tablespoon you are referring to above? I think only Australia uses a 20ml standard Tbsp so the original (American) recipe will have been referring to a 15ml Tbsp (also used in UK and Europe). It might make a difference to some recipes.

    1. Of course Cassie. I'm using an Australian tablespoon which is 5 ml/g more that the American tablespoon. But I can't think of any cake, biscuit or recipe that such a small amount of cornflour would make a difference to.

  15. Hi! I thought I asked this question, but maybe it didn't go through. Could you put a link to your orange cake recipe please. I would love to make t and can't find it in a search. Thank you so much!

    1. I've put the link in the post now.

    2. Thank you so much!. Can't wait to make it tomorrow.

  16. I make this cake about once a fortnight. Last night, we had it warmed up with custard, for dessert. I hadn't gotten around to icing it. Delicious!

  17. Hello,
    I realise this is a bit late in the day, but I would just like to thank you for your simple plain language explanation of 'Cake Flour'.

    There are so many people here in Oz, who get confused and bewildered when a recipe calls for 'Cake Flour'.

    As you say, to make your own substitute 'Cake Flour' in Oz, we simply use Plain Flour with a touch of cornflour and a hint of baking powder.

    As a chef, I often use eye, taste and logic more so than scale measurement. If you know approximately what the measurements are, you don't always have to be 'scale accurate'.

    For example, If I was mixing up Cake flour, using 4 cups of plain flour (16 oz/450gms because flour is lighter than water), I'd add approximately half a cup of cornflour and roughly 20 gms (just under an ounce) of baking powder, but I wouldn't measure it out, because I know roughly what 4 cups of plain flour looks like in one whole lot, so I'd just pour out that approximate amount in my bowl directly from the pack.

    However, if I was making flour for Angel food cake or roulade, I would add close to a third the amount of cornflour to the plain flour, one cup of cornflour to 4 cups of plain. You want an angel food cake to be dense but very light (I know almost an oxymoron-volume is different to mass, it's a science thing), and also to get a light meringue crust to the roulade... once the whipped egg whites are folded in of course!

    But everyone should keep in mind, some delicate recipes require exacts to work, and that's when I get out the scales.

    But as I said, most chef's are pretty familiar with what quantities and measurements of products, ingredients and elements look like, so don't scale measure as much as home cooks... it becomes and eye, taste and logic experience thing, as I'm sure you know. But for those who like to measure, then you have given a very good simple recipe for making Cake flour.
    Dr Chris (Executive Chef)


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