Can I Substitute Bread Flour for Cake Flour?






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Baking requires careful measurement and calculation of ingredients to get the perfect texture and consistency. Flour is an essential component of any baked good, but not all flours are the same. There are many types of flour, and each one has a unique protein content, which affects the final product. Cake flour and bread flour, for instance, are two different types of flour that are used for different purposes. Cake flour is known for its low protein content, which makes it ideal for delicate baked goods like cakes, pastries, and biscuits, while bread flour has a high protein content, which makes it perfect for bread and other baked goods that require a more elastic texture. However, in some cases, you may find yourself without cake flour and need to know if bread flour is a suitable substitute. This article aims to answer the question, “Can I substitute bread flour for cake flour?” by exploring the differences between the two types of flour and providing guidance on how to substitute them effectively to achieve the desired results.

Understanding the Difference Between Bread Flour and Cake Flour


Baking is an art that involves precision, and each ingredient plays a crucial role in determining the outcome of baked goods. When it comes to flour, there are various types to choose from, including bread flour and cake flour. Although both types of flour may look similar, they differ in their protein content, texture, and other properties that affect your baked goods’ final results.

What is Bread Flour?

Bread flour is a type of wheat flour that has high protein content typically ranging between 12-14%. The high protein content gives bread its elasticity and structure. As a result, bread made with bread flour has a chewy texture with large air pockets.

What is Cake Flour?

Cake Flour is another type of wheat flour created from soft wheat rather than hard wheat like bread-flour. It contains less gluten than all-purpose or bread flours—therefore resulting in softer cakes with finer crumbs compared to those made using other flours.

Key Differences

The main difference between these two flours lies in their protein content levels; cake-flour contains 7-9% proteins while Bread-flour contains 12-14% proteins—a significant difference! This explains why bakers use different types of flours for different purposes.

Another difference between these two types of flours lies in their texture: Cake-flour has a fine grainy texture compared to the coarser grains present on Bread-flour due to its lower protein levels. The higher gluten levels found in Bread-flour make it perfect for making yeast dough’s as they give them structure for rising.

Finally yet importantly baking soda or powder reacts differently when using either type of flour; baking soda works well with acidic ingredients such as buttermilk while Baking powder performs better when used alongside cakeflour due to its lower pH compared to all-purpose or even plain white (bread) flour.

Substituting bread flour for cake flour is not recommended, especially if you are baking a delicate pastry or cake. The high protein content found in bread-flour results in a denser texture and coarser crumb, which is unsuitable for cakes.

On the other hand, substituting cake-flour with bread flour may result in tougher and chewier baked goods due to the higher gluten levels present. However, suppose you find yourself without either of these flours; all-purpose flour can serve as an excellent substitute as it has an average protein content between 10-12%.

How to Substitute Bread Flour for Cake Flour in Recipes

Understanding the Recipe

Before making any substitutions, it’s essential to understand the recipe requirements. Determine what texture and crumb structure your recipe calls for and whether substituting bread flour will affect its final outcome.

Reduce Protein Content

Since cake-flour has lower protein levels than bread-flour, it’s essential to reduce your bread-flour protein content when using it as a substitution. To achieve this:

Mix Flours

Mix one cup of all-purpose or plain white (bread) flour with two tablespoons of cornstarch per cup used—this creates a low-protein alternative similar in functionality to cake-flour.

Sift Your Flour

Sift your bread-flour several times; this helps remove some of the bran and germ—the parts that contain most proteins present in wheat flours—making it easier on digestion after baking is done.

Avoid Overmixing

Overmixing dough develops gluten strands that result in chewier baked goods—which is why higher gluten levels found on Bread-flours are perfect for yeast-based recipes that need structure like pizza dough or bagels! So when substituting Bread-Flour with Cake-Flour remember:

Mix Gently

Mix gently; over-mixing leads to tough baked goods. Only mix until the ingredients combine thoroughly!

Adjust Leavening Agents

Leavening agents such as baking powder react differently depending on the pH level present in different types of flours:

Increase Leavening Agents

Since Cake-Flour has a lower pH level than Bread-Flour, recipes calling for it require less baking powder. When using bread flour, increase your recipe’s leavening agents, such as baking powder or soda, by 2-3 times the original amount to help compensate for the reduced acidity levels present in Bread-flour.

Tips for Achieving the Best Results When Substituting Flour

Measure Accurately

The first rule when it comes to baking is always to measure your ingredients accurately. An accurate measurement ensures that your recipe’s ratios are correct, and this will affect your baked goods’ final outcome.

Use a Kitchen Scale

Using a kitchen scale is an excellent way to ensure accurate measurements. Professional bakers use weight measurements instead of volume because they are more precise.

Use Measuring Cups Correctly

If you don’t have a kitchen scale, ensure that you use measuring cups correctly by spooning and leveling off your flour instead of scooping it out—this helps avoid packing too much flour into your measuring cup which skews off its volume measurement!

Adjust Recipe Temperature

Different flours absorb moisture differently; therefore, recipes may require different temperatures depending on what type of flour they contain:

Lower Oven Temperatures

If substituting cake-flour with bread-flour in a recipe that requires lower oven temperatures like cupcakes or muffins, reduce the temperature by about 25°F to prevent over-browning due to Bread-Flour’s higher protein content which absorbs more moisture than Cake-Flour.

Increase Oven Temperatures

When using Cake-Flour in place of Bread-Flour for recipes such as artisan bread or pizza crusts—which require high oven temperatures—consider increasing oven temperature by around 25°F since Cake-Flours absorb less moisture than Bread Flours during baking!

Experiment With Different Flour Ratios

Finding an ideal substitution ratio depends on what recipe you’re using and how well it responds when mixed with other ingredients:

Mix Different Flours

Mixing different flours can help decrease protein levels, creating an alternative similar to Cake-Flour that’s perfect for delicate baked goods. For example, mixing all-purpose or plain white flour with cornstarch creates a low-protein alternative that works well as a substitute for Cake-Flour.

Start With 1:1 Ratios

Begin with equal parts of the original flour and substitute, say 50/50 ratio and adjust accordingly as needed. For instance, if you find your baked goods are too dense or chewy when using Bread-Flour instead of Cake-Flour, add more cake-flour into the mixture until you achieve satisfactory results!

Use High-Quality Flour

The quality of your ingredients matters when it comes to baking. Using high-quality flour ensures better texture and flavor in your baked goods.

Choose Fresh Flour

Choose fresh flours free from lumps or clumps—these can affect measurements by packing too much into measuring cups! Additionally, store your flour in an airtight container to keep it fresh.

Use Organic Flour

Organic flours are not only healthier but often have higher-quality than regular ones since they’re typically grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers which could be harmful to human consumption.

When to Use Bread Flour Instead of Cake Flour

Yeast-Based Recipes

Bread-flour is the ideal choice for yeast-based recipes due to its higher protein content that provides structure and elasticity necessary in creating dough that can rise. Here are some examples of yeast-based recipes where bread-flour should be used:


Bread requires a high gluten content found on Bread-Flours since it needs structure for rising. Alternatively, Cake Flours lack enough gluten which makes the dough flat and heavy.

Pizza Crusts

Pizza crusts also require high gluten levels present in Bread-Flours as they need strength to hold their shape while baking and resist tearing from toppings’ weight.


Bagels require chewiness which only comes from high-gluten flours such as Bread-Flour—using Cake Flours creates a soft texture more suited for pastries than dense bagels!

High-Ratio Cakes

High-ratio cakes contain more sugar and liquid ingredients than butter or fat; this means they require a higher ratio of protein levels than regular cakes:

Angel Food Cake

An angel food cake requires a fine crumb texture with open air pockets; therefore, using low-protein flours like cake-flour could result in an undesirable dense crumb. Hence why bakers often use extra-fine pastry flours with 9% protein content – which works similarly to Cake-Flour but denser making it suitable for Angel food cakes!

Chiffon Cakes

Chiffon cakes also fall under this category as they require higher amounts of liquid ingredients compared to their fat components giving them the light airy texture required by most people who enjoy these types of cakes.

Dense Desserts

Bread-flour can create dense, chewy textures that are perfect for certain desserts such as:


Brownies require a denser texture than the light crumb found in most cakes. Bread-Flours provide this density and chewiness desired by many brownie enthusiasts.


Blondies are similar to brownies, but they contain more sugar and fewer eggs. The higher protein content present in Bread-Flours gives them a dense texture that works perfectly with the added sugars.

Other Flour Alternatives for Cake Baking

All-Purpose Flour

All-purpose flour is a versatile option that works well as a substitute for cake flour. It has a protein content between 10-12%, making it suitable for most recipes.

Sifting All-Purpose Flour

Sifting all-purpose flour several times before use helps remove larger particles giving it finer texture similar to Cake-Flours and creating cakes with lighter crumb structures.

Pastry Flour

Pastry flour contains between 8-10% protein content, making it lower than all-purpose flours but denser than Cake-Flours—making it perfect for delicate pastries or cakes like sponge cakes or Angel food cakes!

Sifting Pastry Flour

Like All-Purpose Flours above sifting your pastry flours help give them an extra-fine texture which creates lighter and fluffier bakes with finer crumbs!

Self-Rising Flour

Self-rising flour is another alternative that can work well in certain cake recipes. It’s made from all-purpose or plain white (bread) flours mixed with baking powder and salt in specific ratios – ready to use & measure!

Adjusting Recipe Salt Levels

If using self-rising-flour as an alternative to cake-flour remember: self-rising already contains salt; therefore adjust recipe salt levels accordingly by halving or omitting any additional salts required by the recipe since too much salt will affect both taste AND texture of your baked goods!

Experimenting with Different Brands

Different brands may have varying ratios of baking powder & salt to their various types of flours used when creating self-risen products – so experiment until you find the right brand for you!

Almond Flour

Almond flour is a gluten-free alternative that works well in cake recipes requiring denser textures.

Mixing with Other Flours

Mixing almond flour with other flours like all-purpose or pastry flours helps reduce its fat content, making it less dense and suitable for delicate pastries or cakes. However, when using almond flour remember to adjust your recipe’s liquid levels accordingly since it absorbs more moisture than other flours which can affect texture if not compensated for!

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is another gluten-free alternative that works well in cake recipes requiring denser textures.


What is the main difference between bread flour and cake flour?

The main difference between bread flour and cake flour lies in their protein content. Bread flour has a higher protein content that ranges between 12% to 14% which results in a dense, chewy, and crusty bread. On the other hand, cake flour has a lower protein content of around 8% to 10% which yields a tender and moist cake. The distribution of protein in cake flour is also different, making it finer, lighter, and less glutenous than bread flour.

Can I substitute bread flour for cake flour in a cake recipe?

Yes, but the result will be quite different than what the recipe intended. Bread flour has a high protein content, which will develop the gluten structure of your cake when mixed with liquid, resulting in a dense and chewy cake. If you must use bread flour for a cake recipe, you could increase the leavening agents such as baking powder and baking soda. However, to achieve the light and tender texture of a cake, it is always recommended sticking to cake flour.

Can I substitute cake flour for bread flour in a bread recipe?

No, you shouldn’t substitute cake flour for bread flour in a bread recipe as it will not provide enough gluten development needed for bread to rise and hold its shape. The low protein content in cake flour will cause the bread to be too weak, have a starchy texture, and a crumbly crust. To make bread, use bread flour as it has a high protein content that will provide the necessary gluten development to shape the bread and hold its crumbs together.

What can I do if I don’t have cake flour or bread flour?

If you don’t have cake flour, you can make a substitute by mixing all-purpose flour and cornstarch in a 1:1 ratio. To make bread flour, you can mix all-purpose flour with vital wheat gluten (a highly concentrated wheat protein) in a 5:1 ratio, which is equal to 1 cup of all-purpose flour and one tablespoon of vital wheat gluten. Alternatively, you can use all-purpose flour for both cake and bread recipes, knowing that the result may not be the same as using the appropriate flour.

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