It’s safe to say that bread is one of the best foods known to man. It can be eaten at all times of the day and with just about anything. Although you can purchase it at your local grocer, bread is even better when it’s freshly homemade.
Making bread at home is easy to do. It just requires some patience and the right ingredients, which usually include all-purpose flour. But when you don’t have it on hand, is cake flour a worthy substitute?
Differences Between Cake Flour and All-Purpose Flour
Believe it or not, the type of flour that you use when cooking plays a large role in how your final product will turn out. Right off the bat, all-purpose flour is different from cake flour because it contains 10% to 12% protein content, while cake flour has 7% to 8%.
Protein content might not seem to be a big deal but it makes a difference. In fact, the reason why cake flour is used to make cakes is because the lighter protein content makes for a much airier and lighter consistency, which is what you want in a cake.
The more protein that the flour has, the more gluten it will produce. And the more gluten in your bread, the better the texture of your bread will be.
Another difference between cake flour and all-purpose flour is how it’s made. It is milled from soft winter wheat and is bleached, which means that it doesn’t have the darker tone that all-purpose flour has.
Cake flour also produces less gluten so if you are using it in place of all-purpose flour when making bread, it won’t end up being as chewy as bread normally is.
Differences Between Bread Flour and All-Purpose Flour
When baking bread, you ideally want to use bread flour. After all, it’s called that for a reason. Bread flour has more protein than all-purpose flour, which means that it’s going to give you a better texture for your bread.
Aside from the protein content, there isn’t much of a difference between all-purpose flour and bread flour. In fact, the crumb, otherwise known as the small holes in slices of bread, will even be the same.
Using Cake Flour in Bread
Although using cake flour in bread isn’t recommended, it will do as a substitute for all-purpose flour or bread flour when it’s all that you have to make bread and you are in a pinch.
The best way to make sure that the consistency comes out similar to if you had used regular all-purpose flour or bread flour is to add two tablespoons of cornstarch to every cup of flour.
Although cake flour is a fine substitute for all-purpose flour when making bread, it’s not ideal for things such as pizza crust or pretzels. The texture of your bread will not be as chewy as it should be and will be much lighter.
Other Flour Substitutes
If you have neither cake nor all-purpose or even bread flour handy, don’t worry. There are still other ways for you to make bread.
Coconut flour is another good substitute and can also be used to make bread. However, keep in mind that because coconut flour is high in fiber and low in carbs, it has more saturated fat content than white flour. This type of flour also absorbs other ingredients easily, which can be bad when you’re trying to end up with a moist final product.
Not only that, but coconut flour can be extremely dense. If you are planning on using coconut flour, be sure to add extra liquids or some kind of fat source so that the bread doesn’t dry out.
People who are gluten-free are no strangers to rice flour, which is another good substitute for flour when making bread. It comes in both brown and white and adds a nutty flavor to your bread. Rice flour also has a lot of protein and fiber in it, which means that it’s also a healthy substitute when baking bread.
Much as with rice flour, buckwheat flour is also nutty but still a good substitute for other flours when baking. This flour is also great for those who try to avoid gluten and are also high in fiber and vitamins. Too much buckwheat flour does tend to get a bit chalky, so try to combine it with another type of flour.
Oat flour is another type of flour that can be substituted in. Unlike rice and buckwheat flour, oat flour is sweet and also gluten-free while being high in fiber. Because of this, oat flour is one of the best types of flour substitutes that you can use in bread. Aside from bread, oat flour is great for making pancakes or other types of baked goods.
Lastly, almond flour is another great substitute to use when baking bread. It is made through the process of grinding down almonds to create the flour, otherwise known as almond meal.
Naturally, the almond flour is going to give whatever it is you’re baking a nice nutty flavor while also being gluten-free and high in fiber, protein, and even moisture. If you’re worried about dry bread, use almond flour to keep it moist.
The Proper Way to Store Flour
Once you’re done using your flour, you’ll want to make sure that you are properly storing it so that it lasts as long as possible. Believe it or not, most people have flour stored the wrong way.
This is because once you’re done using it, you end up throwing it in a plastic bag and back onto your shelf. However, this isn’t the best way to extend your flour’s shelf life.
In order for your flour to last as long as you need it to, be sure to keep it away from air, heat, or light exposure as this is a good way to speed up the expiration date on it. For the most part, the expiration date on flour is anywhere between one to two years; again, it all depends on how you go about storing it.
The proper way to store flour would be to seal it into an airtight container and then put it in a cool, dark place. The best way to tell whether or not your flour has gone sour is by smelling it. If it smells off, then it has gone bad and you should throw it out immediately.
When dealing with whole-grain flours, be sure to keep those in the fridge or even in the freezer. This is because of the fact that they contain more natural oils, which means that this flour oxidizes at a faster rate than other types of flour.
Cake Bread Recipes
If you are desperate to use the cake flour in your pantry, look no further. There are many different types of sweet breads that call for cake flour so you can use all your cake flour up before it goes bad.
Carrot cake bread for example, is a great way to make use of your cake flour. For this recipe, you will need flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vegetable oil, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla extract, yogurt or applesauce, and carrots.
You’ll want to start out by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. While this is going, you can start to combine your ingredients. Be sure to also grease the loaf pan that you’ll be baking in.
All your dry ingredients should be combined in one bowl, while your wet ingredients should go in another one. When both bowls are thoroughly mixed up, you can add in any nuts or raisins if you’d like.
When the batter is combined, spread it into the greased pan. Then cover the pan with aluminum foil and place it in the oven to bake for about 55 to 65 minutes, depending on your oven.
Once it hits the 45-minute mark, you’ll want to start keeping a closer eye on it. You’ll know when your bread is done if you stick a toothpick in it and it comes out clean.
Although carrot cake bread can last up to a week at room temperature, it can last up to three months if you freeze it. Once you’re ready to eat it, thaw it out in the fridge before you dig into it. You can always frost your loaf with either a store-bought frosting or one you can make yourself.
If you choose to make it yourself, you can easily do so by taking a block of cream cheese, unsalted butter, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, and a pinch of salt and mixing them all together.
If you choose to freeze your loaf, make sure that you don’t put the frosting on it when you put it in the freezer; otherwise, it won’t keep well.
As you can see, you have many options when it comes to using a flour substitute for making bread. While cake flour can be used, it won’t have the same consistency that you’re used to in your bread but will be delicious nonetheless.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.