Best Flour For Cakes – Cake Flour Or Some Other Flour, Help Me!

Goddammit. There are just so many types of flour. Save me!

Ok what do you want to bake? 

The first thing to do when choosing the right type of flour is to identify the purpose of baking. Do you want to bake a cake, a bread or something else?

I want to bake cute little cakes.

Great! Now that you have decided that you want to bake a cake, think of the cake texture you want to achieve. Do you want your cake to have a fine texture or rough texture? 

It’s vital to know the type of cake you want to make, so you can pick the right type of flour. The type of flour chosen will determine your cake texture.

What flour should I use to bake a fine textured cake?

The Cake Flour would be the best choice to achieve a fine, tender texture that sponge cakes, red velvet cakes, banana cakes or pound cakes have.

Cake flour is milled from soft wheat so they have very low protein content, 5 to 8%, ensuring a soft texture when used to bake cakes.

Cake flour also undergoes a bleaching process that gives structure and protects moisture in the cake.

What if I want to bake a cake that has a slightly rough texture?

That’s where the reliable All-Purpose Flour comes in. It has a slightly higher protein content, 8 to 11%. This makes the All-Purpose Flour produce a cake that is more rough and less tender compared to the Cake Flour.

Cakes that can be made by using the All-Purpose Flour are those dense black forest cakes, chocolate cakes, cheese cakes and even banana cakes

Now I’m wondering about flour for baking really rough and dense textured cakes.

Whole-wheat flour would be the choice for you then. It’s flour that has both the bran and germ giving it a very rough, robust texture.

Whole-wheat flour can be used to make dense fruit cakes.

Alright what about Self-Rising Flour?

Self-Rising Flour has leavening agents in them already. If you want to use it to bake cakes, just be sure to not use baking soda or baking powder and salt, because Self-Rising Flour already has these ingredients. 

Hmm, can Bread Flour be used for baking cakes?

Please don’t! Bread flour has high protein content that will make your cakes extremely tough. Imagine biting into a tough cheese cake hahaha. To help you understand further, refer to this simple table:

CriteriaProtein contentGluten contentResults
Cake flourLowLowSoft, fine texture
All-Purpose FlourMediumMediumSlightly rough, generally good for most baking goods
Bread FlourHighHighHard, roughest texture, suitable for breads

So you see, the higher protein content in flour, the higher the gluten content which results in a hard and extremely rough texture. This is why Bread Flour is the perfect flour for breads but not the perfect flour for cakes.

Cake Flour has low protein so does it make it gluten free?

Absolutely not. Yes cake flour does have low protein contents, but that means it still has gluten too, just that it’s percentage is lower than other flours. 

If you want a flour that has no gluten, then what you should get is Gluten-Free Flour or Coconut Flour. You can read more about types of flour here.

So the rule of thumb is?

Generally Cake Flour is best for cakes as it gives a really soft texture. However, if you do not have Cake Flour, you can opt for All-Purpose Flour, and try to pick Bleached All-Purpose Flour.

Here’s a sweet breakdown of flours and suitable types of popular cakes to bake:

Cake Flour – low protein content– Sponge Cake
– Chiffon Cake
– Pound Cake
– Layer Cake
– Red Velvet Cake
– Banana Cake
– Vanilla Cake
– Coconut Cake
– New York Crumb Cake
– Angel Food Cake
– Blueberry Coffee Cake
All Purpose Flour – medium protein content– Pound Cake
– Bundt Cake
– Black Forest Cake
– Chocolate Cake
– Cheese Cake (only a little to make it stiff)
– Banana Cake
– Coffee Cake
Whole-wheat/ Wholemeal flour – nutritional, rich in vitamins and minerals– Fruit Cakes
– Pancakes
Self Rising Flour – has baking powder and salt– Sponge Cake
– Coconut Cake
– Banana Loaf
– Lemon Cake
– Chocolate Cake
– Almond Cake
Gluten-Free Flour – low protein content– Sponge Cake
– Butter Cake
– Chocolate Cake
– Vanilla Cake
– Carrot Cake
– Lemon Cake
Superfine Flour – low gluten flour– Japanese SpongeCake
– Butter Cake
– Mini Egg Cake
Wheat Flour / Wheat Starch– Pound Cake
– Banana Cake
Rice Flour – ground from raw rice and an alternative to wheat flour– Sponge Cake
– Bundt Cake
– Pandan Cake
– Orange Cake
– Bai Tang Gao / Steamed Rice Cake
Corn Flour / Cornstarch– Butter Cake
– Lemon Cake
– Cheese Cake (only a little to make it stiff)
Almond Flour – low carb flour– Almond Cakes (of course)
Oat Flour – a type of whole-grain flour, making it a healthy choice– Sponge Cake
– Banana Cake
– Chocolate Cake
– Carrot Cake
Coconut Flour – soft gluten free flour– Coconut Cake (obviously)
– Pound Cake

You have been saved. Happy cake baking!

New to baking? Check out our quick and easy 30 Day Guide for Beginner Bakers

Want to know more about flour? Check out The Ultimate Flour Guide for Baking

Want Bread Baking Tips? Check out Bake Bread Like A Pro: Flour Types and Tips

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