Cake Flour


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Whenever I see a cake recipe that looks interesting but uses AP flour, I'm tempted to just sub in the same amount of cake flour instead. I assume this is totally okay for any butter cake recipe, but I'm wondering if there are any instances in which I explicitly shouldn't substitute cake flour for AP and why.
 
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Whenever I see a cake recipe that looks interesting but uses AP flour, I'm tempted to just sub in the same amount of cake flour instead. I assume this is totally okay for any butter cake recipe, but I'm wondering if there are any instances in which I explicitly shouldn't substitute cake flour for AP and why.

You cannot simply swap out flours

Cake flour: protein 8%; ash <45%; bleached

All purpose flour: protein 10% - 11.7%; ash 55% - 60%; may be bleached or unbleached

Ash is the mineral content from the bran and germ. The higher the ash, the heavier the flour. These flours will absorb more liquid. So a cake formulated with an all purpose flour will contain more liquids and fats than a cake formulated with a cake flour.
 
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That's fair and makes sense. Let me reframe the question a little, then.

In what cakes is cake flour generally better vs. all purpose? Just so when I'm looking at recipes I have an intuitive idea of the quality of them. For example, would you maybe say that white cake recipes formulated for cake flour generally produce higher quality cakes than ones formulated for all purpose flour? Or is that too gross of an oversimplification?
 
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That's fair and makes sense. Let me reframe the question a little, then.

In what cakes is cake flour generally better vs. all purpose? Just so when I'm looking at recipes I have an intuitive idea of the quality of them. For example, would you maybe say that white cake recipes formulated for cake flour generally produce higher quality cakes than ones formulated for all purpose flour? Or is that too gross of an oversimplification?

Real cake flour is not available in the European Union, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and most Asian countries as bleached flour is banned.

The domestic wheat in the UK is naturally low in protein, so the plain flour in the UK is about 9% protein, which is equivalent to pastry flour in the US. So it makes a soft cake.

As a general rule, all purpose flour does not make a good cake since it is so heavy. However, now that cake flour is no longer available world wide, and some bakers do not want to use bleached flour, more recipes are showing up with all purpose flour.

Whipped batter cakes (those leavened with whipped eggs) simply do better with a cake flour. These include the chiffon cake, genoise, angel food, jonconde, and savoy.

The creamed batter cakes do better with a all purpose flour, especially when you are making a heavy cake, like a carrot cake, fruitcake, chocolate cake, or a spice cake.
 
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Perfect, that's exactly the kind of explanation for which I was looking. Thank you.

you generally want to use a recipe that is formulated for the type of flour do you want to use. Baking is a chemical reaction of all the ingredients to time in temperature. So if you change the type of flour, you change the ratios of everything since everything is based on the weight of the flour.
 
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