Having all the weird and wonderful ingredients that your favorite recipes ask for is usually the safest way to ensure you end up with that cakey creation you are dreaming of. That said, I’m sure there isn’t a single baker out there who hasn’t gone a little recipe rouge every now and then.
Perhaps you ran out of vanilla essence and haven’t got around to replacing yet, or that emergency birthday cake you made in a rush last week took a hard hit on your flour supplies? Maybe you’re a repeat offender and regularly play it fast and loose with the recipe ingredients.
So, what would happen if we wanted to bake a cake – for instance – but there was still no suitable flour available?
What if the only flour you had available was bread flour – can I use bread flour for cake?
Baking is always about exploring possibilities, so let’s find out whether you can use bread flour for making a regular cake and what will happen if it’s the only choice available!
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Can you use bread flour for cakes?
You can use bread flour for cakes, although it might not give you the desired texture. In its simplest terms, bread flour is flour that has a higher protein content, around 11-13%, in comparison to other flours. The higher level of protein in bread flour allows for more gluten to be produced, giving bread its distinctive chewy texture.
For this reason alone, you can already see that a cake recipe with bread flour may not be the best combination.
The most important thing to know about the amount of protein found in different flours is that the higher the protein content, the more gluten is produced, leading to a chewier texture.
Because of this the suitability of the flour you use will be wholly dependent on what recipe you are making and the desired end texture of the product.
Why is bread flour not suitable for cake?
A cake needs a flour that is milled to a much finer grade than bread flour is. A flour that is more finely milled leads it to have a lower protein content.
This will give your cake a much lighter and less dense texture which is definitely more desirable for cake.
If you’ve run out of flour with no way of getting any, you can still use bread flour in cake as a substitute, but be aware that the end result may not be the light and crumbly texture you are looking for. To avoid a heavier cake result when using bread flour as a substitute, make sure you don’t over-work the mixture too much when mixing your batter as this will increase gluten production. Be as light as possible and only mix enough to incorporate all of the ingredients.
The good news is, when all else fails, you can still make an edible cake with bread flour, like this cake recipe with bread flour, which holds up to the denser texture bread flour can give to a cake.
The Best flour for cake – In my order of preference
Plain Flour (all-purpose flour)
All-purpose flour or plain flour is the most versatile of the flours, and you should always have it in your kitchen!
Plain flour can be used for literally everything and is one I can’t live without!
All-purpose flour has a protein content of between 10-12%, so it has the capability to support a beautifully light and crumbly texture in your cake. That said, this is versatile stuff; it can be used when making a flaky pastry or a chewy cookie too!
Self-rising flour has some super clever ingredients added to it during the milling process in the form of salt and baking powder, making it the flour of choice to make a cake rise evenly, without the need for an additional leavening agent.
Self-Rising flour has a protein content of between 8-11%. It has the capability to support a beautifully risen cake every time (guaranteed!), with a light, crumbly and melt-in-the-mouth texture, Which is exactly what we bakers need in our lives.
Cake flour is the most specific and unique flour for baking delicate cakes when the only goal is to get that oh-so-light texture!
Cake flour is incredibly finely milled, which gives it a silken texture in the bag (immensely satisfying to handle!).
It has a naturally low protein content of around 7-9%, which gives the final cake a really light, tender, and melt-in-the-mouth texture. How amazing does that sound?!
So, when looking for the answer to the question of “Can I use bread flour for cake?” we have found that, although you can absolutely use bread flour for making a cake…it should really only be as a last resort!
Using bread flour in an emergency to make a cake won’t make the finished cake inedible. Still, it may result in a dense texture and heavier than anticipated due to the higher proportion of protein contained within the bread flour. Some cakes, however, have great results when using bread flour specifically!
But if you are looking for the ultimate melting and crumbly texture for your cake, there are more suitable choices of flour available that are designed to give a much more light and tender texture to your finished cake, which is what we all strive for!
All-purpose flour is excellent for making light and fluffy cakes, but cake flour is the ultimate flour to give the most desirable, perfectly fluffy cake!
Regardless of which one you have, you will still create a delicious cake!
But to get the best cake, we should always use the best flour for the job, right?!