Accepted that cake flour contains the lowest amount of gluten among all types of flours. But the fact that it contains the lowest content of protein of about 6 to 8%, in comparison to other flour varieties is something to consider. Cake flour is definitely more expensive. But let's face it, even if all the other factors are not severe enough to make us hunt for a substitute for cake flour, the fact that all ingredients are not always available in the kitchen, surely can. Running to the bakery in the middle of a cake recipe is extremely cumbersome and most of us hate to do it. So, here are some viable cake flour substitute concoctions that you could try in case of a cake flour emergency.
Cake flour is undoubtedly the finest when it comes to texture, and helps create soft and spongy delightful cakes that melt in the mouth. So, there are very few alternatives that can match up to the texture provided by cake flour to cakes. But here are a few things that come very close when mixed and executed in the right proportions.
All-purpose Flour and Cornstarch: Take ¼ cup of cornstarch and 1¾ cup of pre-bleached and sieved all-purpose flour. Place the cornstarch at the bottom of the bowl and then pour the all-purpose flour into it. Then simply carry on with the dessert recipe by mixing this with the other dry constituents of the delicacy. This will substitute for two cups of cake flour. For one single cup of cake flour substitution, you can simply reduce the measurements by adding 15 g (approximately 2 tablespoons) of cornstarch with 85 g (¾ cup) of all-purpose flour.
Another method is to remove two tablespoons from one level cup of cake flour. Add two tablespoons of cornstarch to the cake flour. Sieve the flour four to five times, so that the cornstarch mixes with the flour evenly. If you want ½ a cup of cake flour, substitute it with half a cup of all-purpose flour mixed with a tablespoon of cornstarch. Don't forget to remove a tablespoon of all-purpose flour, before adding the cornstarch. By adding cornstarch, formation of gluten is prevented to a certain extent. Apart from that, it makes the cake more spongy and delicate. If you do not have cornstarch, replace it with arrowroot or potato starch. But, these starches may make the cake moist. It has also been observed that such flour cooks quickly.
All-purpose Flour: When it comes to all-purpose flour vs. cake flour, the biggest advantage that the former has over latter is that all-purpose flour has a protein content of 10 to 12%. So, it is undoubtedly a more nutritious option. Also, some people who cannot opt for cornstarch and are looking for a viable cornstarch substitute, use only all-purpose flour as a substitute for cake flour. All they do is that, if the recipe asks for one cup of cake flour, they measure out one cup of all-purpose flour and then reduce it by two tablespoons. Bleached and enriched all-purpose flour has high quotient of iron, protein, and vitamin B and a low content of saturated fats and sodium, making it ideal for people advised to consume low-sodium diets. It is also treated, so as to make it a good baking option with a relatively smoother texture, if not as fine as cake flour. If you want the cake to be tender (like angel food cake), it is always better to use cake flour. Cakes made with all-purpose flour can be tougher.
Pastry Flour: This flour is very similar in texture to cake flour, given that cakes and pastries themselves are very close cousins. But it has about 8 to 11% of proteins which is slightly higher than cake flour. This flour has a lower starch content than cake flour, and helps in baking cakes that are only slightly less delicate and fragile than those made with cake flour. So cakes will be more sturdy and dense, if made with pastry flour.
If you want to substitute self-raising cake flour, you can always do so. But, the self-raising sponge flour variety has about 8 to 11.5% of proteins and is therefore, a better option. Self-raising flours also make for a good baking powder substitute, as they have none of the side effects induced by this leavening agent and yet make your cakes all fluffy and spongy.
So, there you have some fantastic cake flour substitutes, which can be used as baking alternatives without much ado. These substitutes also do not affect the taste or texture of the resultant cake drastically, if mixed intelligently and carefully. Remember that you will never know what makes for a good, or in some cases, better substitute for cake flour, until you experiment with it. You may also try any of the numerous types of gluten-free flours in the market.