What is cake flour? I have never heard of it.
By Cookiecutter from NM
Cake flour is a special kind of flour used in baking. It contains less gluten than regular all purpose flour. It is sold in the baking aisle of the supermarket. Cake flour usually comes in a box. Swan's Down is one brand I've used. You use cake flour to make a cake that is delicate, tender and light.
You can make your own cake flour by sifting 3/4 cup bleached all purpose flour and 2 tablespoons of corn starch.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that cake flour is good for cake, and bread flour is good for"wait for it"Bread! But why, and why do some all purpose flours seem to make great bread, and others turn out disappointing loaves, and what the heck is self raising flour anyways?
The primary difference between different types of flour are the quantity of the wheat germ and bran that are milled with the flour, and the type of wheat used for the flour, and the relative protein content of that wheat.
Whole wheat flour is simply wheat that has been milled into flour with some, or all, of the germ and bran still attached.
Additionally, different varieties of wheat contain different amounts of protein, and the more protein is contained in the flour, the higher gluten it has.
Gluten are the strands of amino acid proteins that bind together in a bread dough after the mixture of water, and the creation of longer and stronger chains of gluten through mechanical mixing (kneading). The higher the protein content, the more gluten can be developed. These chains of gluten are important for bread, as they are what allow the dough to capture the created gasses during the cooking and leavening processes, and expand from dense to light. High gluten is not considered an asset when making pastries, pie crusts, biscuits etc, as the gluten can make these tough and chewy.
The protein contents are approximately: Cake flour:7-8%
Southern all purpose flour:7.5-9.5%
Northern all purpose flour:11-12%
There is a difference between all purpose flour from the southern climates, and that from more northern climates, and the more northerly grown the wheat, the higher the gluten content. This can explain why an all purpose flour bought in Wisconsin makes a great bread, and an all purpose flour bought in Alabama doesn't.
Whole wheat flour is high in protein, but the protein from the germ and bran is not well turned into gluten, and as such, whole wheat breads tend to be heavier, but more flavorful then white flour breads. Rye bread contains very little gluten, and as such 100% rye breads are very dense.
Cake flour is a low gluten flour that has also been chemically altered slightly for better use in cake baking.
Self raising flour is generally all purpose flour that has had baking powder mixed in, and do not require any additional baking powder to be added when making biscuits, pancakes or muffins.
So, if you are making bread, use a northern all purpose, or bread flour, and if making pastry, use a southern all purpose, cake or pastry flour. Always look for flour labeled unbleached, as it tastes better, and store whole wheat flour in the fridge or freezer.
The reason that you spend so much time kneading when making a breads dough, is to create lots of these strong gluten chains, and if you under knead, your bread will generally fail to rise well.
Don't worry too much about it all though, as most of the time, using whatever flour you have on hand will work out just fine, and you should never not bake that apple pie, just because you only have bread flour on hand. Bake those cookies; make that bread, and enjoy the aroma of home baking; it's always appreciated.
From the very well respected King Arthur milling company
Thank you! OliveOyl" The "simple" kind of answer is what I needed!
Add your voice! Click below to comment. ThriftyFun is powered by your wisdom!