How to Make Cake Flour, Bread Flour, and Self-Rising Flour

Spare yourself a trip to the grocery store and learn to how to quickly make cake flour, bread flour and self-rising flour at home! Why waste precious space when you can make everything you need from good old fashioned all-purpose flour? 

A photo of flour in a bowl.

While I love baking, I have a relatively small kitchen that’s severely lacking in storage space. I have to be strategic about my purchases.

I go through a ton of all-purpose flour and sugar, so I buy those in 25-pound bulk bags. Stocking non-essentials like cake, bread, and self-rising flour just aren’t practical for me.

The good news is that you can create all of these ingredients from good old fashioned all-purpose flour! If you’re a regular around here, you may have noticed that many of my cake recipes use all-purpose flour and cornstarch. Have you figured out why yet?

What is cake flour?

Cake flour is more finely milled than all-purpose flour, typically bleached, and it has a lower protein content of about 8%. All-purpose flour, on the other hand, has 10-11% protein.

So what exactly does that mean? Less protein means the batter won’t develop as much gluten, and your finished product will be more delicate and soft, with a good rise and a finer crumb. Cake flour is especially helpful with angel food and chiffon cake.

How to make cake flour substitute

Skip to the end of the post for a condensed printable version.

Step 1

Start by measuring out 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Now hold up. Do I mean 1 cup by weight or volume? Most tutorials don’t specify this.

Honestly, you can get away with either, but since I’m very pushy about weighing flour, let’s say one 4 1/2-ounce cup (129 grams) of flour, measured on a kitchen scale. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, measure the flour into a cup with a spoon, then level off the top using a knife.

(Note: King Arthur Flour says 1 cup all-purpose flour = 4 1/4 ounces. It’s not an exact science, yet baking is an exact science. Yay. This is why we all say use a scale.)

A photo of flour in a bowl with 1 tablespoon being removed.

Step 2

Remove 2 tablespoons of the flour (place it back in your flour bag or canister). This will be roughly 3/4 ounce or closer to 18 grams.

A photo of flour in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch being added.

Step 3

Replace that flour with 2 tablespoons cornstarch (3/4 ounce or 16 grams).

A bowl of flour being whisked.

Step 4

Whisk or sift the ingredients together. It’s technically better to sift them to make sure the cornstarch is very evenly dispersed. Voila! Cake flour.

1 cup all-purpose flour 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour + 2 tablespoons cornstarch = 1 cup cake flour

Note: Some websites say to sift the flour 5 times. Not gonna lie, I have never done this. I’ve also never done a side-by-side angel food cake taste test with someone who sifted their flour five times, so maybe I don’t know what I’m missing. You choose your own destiny.

Try using homemade cake flour in my Sour Cream Coffee Cake!

A tablespoon of vital wheat gluten being spooned from the bag.

What is bread flour?

Bread flour is a high protein flour (12-14%) that’s often used in yeast breads. The extra protein produces more gluten, which often means a chewier bread and a better rise. Gluten gives bread dough its elasticity and stretch, trapping air bubbles.

Keep in mind that if a recipe calls for bread flour, you can often still substitute all-purpose flour and get perfectly fine results.

How to make bread flour substitute

Skip to the end of the post for a condensed printable version.

Vital wheat gluten, also known as wheat gluten or wheat gluten flour, is a powder that can be purchased in the baking aisle at grocery stores and online. You can add it to all-purpose flour to increase the protein content, creating bread flour.

There’s no general consensus within the baking community about how much vital wheat gluten to add to all-purpose flour to convert recipes. I’ve seen everything from 1 teaspoon per cup to 1-3 tablespoons “per recipe.”

Technically, this is a trial and error process, but I’ve found that 1 1/2 teaspoons per cup gets the job done.

  1. Measure out 1 cup all-purpose flour (4 1/2 ounces or 129 grams).
  2. Remove 1 1/2 teaspoons (1/8 ounce or 4 grams).
  3. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten (1/8 ounce or 5 grams).
  4. Whisk or sift to combine.

1 cup all-purpose flour 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour + 1 1/2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten = 1 cup bread flour

Try using homemade bread flour in my Perfect Chewy Pretzel Buns

A photo of flour in a bowl next to a whisk.

What is self-rising flour?

Self-rising flour already has salt and baking powder added to it. It’s often included in Southern recipes like biscuits, cornbread and cobblers. It’s also pretty simple to make from scratch.

How to make self-rising flour substitute

  1. Measure out 1 cup all-purpose flour (4 1/2 ounces or 129 grams).
  2. Add 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder.
  3. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  4. Whisk or sift together (note: you can’t sift if you use kosher salt. Use a less coarse option like sea salt for sifting).

1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder + 1/4 teaspoon salt = 1 cup self-rising flour

5 from 8 votes
How to make Cake Flour or Bread Flour - a photo of flour in a bowl, surrounded by cornstarch, vital wheat gluten, a whisk and measuring spoons.
Homemade Cake Flour, Bread Flour, and Self-Rising Flour
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins
 

Spare yourself a trip to the grocery store and learn to how to quickly make cake flour, bread flour and self-rising flour at home! 

Course: Kitchen Staples
Cuisine: American, British
Servings: 1 cup
Calories: 515 kcal
Ingredients
Cake Flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (4 1/2 ounces or 129 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch (3/4 ounce or 16 grams)
Bread Flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (4 1/2 ounces or 129 grams)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten (1/8 ounce or 4 grams)
Self-Rising Flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (4 1/2 ounces or 129 grams)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder (4 grams)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (1 gram)
Instructions
To Make Cake Flour
  1. Measure out the all-purpose flour into a medium bowl.
  2. Subtract 2 tablespoons flour and replace with 2 tablespoons cornstarch (3/4 ounce or 16 grams).
  3. Whisk or sift to combine.
To Make Bread Flour
  1. Measure out the all-purpose flour into a medium bowl.
  2. Subtract 1 1/2 teaspoons flour and replace with 1 1/2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten (1/8 ounce or 5 grams).
  3. Whisk or sift to combine.
To Make Self-Rising Flour
  1. Measure out the all-purpose flour into a medium bowl.
  2. Add baking powder and salt.
  3. Whisk or sift together (note: you can't sift if you use kosher salt. Use a less coarse option like sea salt for sifting).
Learn to how to quickly how to make cake flour or bread flour at home with this simple technique. Why waste space and money on multiple bags? It’s an easy substitute for cake flour and bread flour you’d purchase at the store.

About Jennifer Farley

Jennifer graduated from the Culinary Arts program at L’Academie de Cuisine in Maryland, and has worked professionally as a line cook, pastry chef, and cooking instructor. Her cookbook, The Gourmet Kitchen, was published in 2016 by Simon & Schuster.

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