Bread flour is a staple for many bakers, and white bread flour is particularly useful to make sandwich loaves, feed your sourdough starter, or to mix with other flours for delicious bread. But even if you have accidentally bought bread flour instead of all-purpose flour, should you return it or can it be used to make cake?
Bread flour can be used for cake but you will want to stick to making denser cakes, like heavy chocolate cakes or banana bread. You may want to add extra baking powder as a raising agent, add cornflour to lighten the texture, and increase the baking time due to the heaviness of bread flour cakes.
Follow these steps, and you should be able to make a delicious and unique cake. After all, bread flour has a higher protein content, which can be enticing, alongside a high gluten content. If you want to know more, please read on.
What Are the Differences Between Bread Flour and All-Purpose Flour?
The single fundamental difference between bread flour and all-purpose flour is the amount of gluten and protein in the flour. While all-purpose flour typically as 11-12% protein, bread flour can have as much as 16%. Protein is one of the things that will, unfortunately, make your cake heavy and dense.
Additionally, bread flour contains higher percentages of gluten. In bread dough, this will create the structure and strength to create a light crumb despite the protein. However, It is also what makes the texture of bread chewy rather than soft and crumbly like cake. Therefore, gluten too can be disadvantageous to making a cake with bread flour.
Bread flour can also contain some malted barley and vitamin C or potassium bromate, all of which help yeast and gluten development. The malted barley particularly can also create a denser texture. Bread flour as a whole, especially with malt barley, also has a coarser texture than regular all-purpose flour. That itself is already coarser than cake flour, which is ground particularly fine to make the lightest cakes.
How Can I Use Bread Flour for Cake?
The good news is that despite these differences, it is not entirely impossible to use bread flour for cakes. However, you will need to first adjust your expectations.
You will definitely not be able to achieve the lightest of sponges, with bread flour. It is ill-advised to make Victoria sponge or other light cakes. However, you can still create a delicious cake. The easiest method is to use any of the numerous cake recipes available online, particularly for bread flour. However, if you have a favorite cake recipe that is usually made with all-purpose flour, there are some tricks to consider.
1. Do you need a raising agent?
It is essential to consider if you need to add extra baking powder. If your recipe typically uses self-rising flour, this would already have the raising agent added while bread flour does not. Generally, around 3 tbsp baking powder is a sufficient amount for 100g bread flour. If your recipe already contains baking powder, check if the amount is similar to this recommendation, otherwise adjust it accordingly.
2. Lighten the Load
You can consider reducing the amount of bread flour and adding the missing amount in cornflour instead. Cornflour has a smooth, light texture and can reduce the heaviness of the bread flour. It will also help reduce the overall coarseness of the mix. Indeed, it is often added to recipes to make particularly light cakes or smooth, melt-in-your-mouth cookies.
3. Stick to Denser Cakes
Consider making cakes that are naturally more dense, like heavy and moist chocolate cakes or banana bread. In these, the added heaviness of the bread flour will make less of a difference.
4. Don’t Under Cook
Lastly, don’t forget to watch your baking times carefully. Keep an eye on your cake as the increased heaviness of the batter can increase the baking time. When your cake looks ready, use a skewer to check that the inside is dry. If your skewer comes out covered in batter, you need to bake your cake a little longer.
What Other Sweet Treats Can I Make With Bread Flour?
Instead of cakes, it is much more advisable to use bread flour for its intended purposes. This doesn’t mean you can’t make a few well-known treats. Some sweet bread varieties which are particularly suited to white strong bread flour include milk bread, scones, and fruit breads which can contain raisins, nuts, or cranberries to add to the flavor. A particular favorite in many parts of the world is panettone, an Italian Christmas bread featuring raisins.
Bread flour, including whole mean bread flour, can also be used to make donuts, crumble, or fruitcake. In these, wholemeal bread flour can add to the taste and texture of your delicious sweet treat.
Just because you have only bread flour doesn’t mean that you can’t still make amazing desserts. You only have to know either how to alter a recipe slightly or stick to traditional desserts that can be made with bread flour.
Who knows, you may discover a unique recipe that could start a tradition in your household that you can pass on for generations. Give it a try and let me know how it goes in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!