Running out of bread flour is pretty annoying. Saving yourself a trip to the store would be really nice, assuming there is a substitute. What if you only have cake flour, could that be used?
Cake flour is not suitable for bread because it requires flour with a high protein content, which cake flour does not have. Using it in a bread recipe will result in dense and flat bread. There is also not enough gluten in cake flour for it to rise and develop properly.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the details and see if any viable substitutes can be used for making bread.
Why Isn’t Cake Flour Ideal to Make Bread?
Cake flour is not ideal for making bread because bread requires a flour with a high protein content to rise correctly. If cake flour is used in a recipe for bread, the bread will likely not rise. The dough will be difficult to knead by hand, and the finished bread will be dense and flat.
The exact makeup of bread flour is what gives bread its chewy texture, so using something like cake flour will likely bread to something exactly the opposite: very crumbly and dry bread.
Additionally, the most crucial aspect of making well-risen bread is developing the gluten, and there is simply not enough gluten in cake flour to develop correctly.
Cake Flour vs. Bread Flour – What Is the Difference?
The main difference between cake flour and bread flour are the levels of gluten or protein contained in each.
- Bread flour has a high percentage of gluten, usually around 12% to 14%.
- Cake flour has a low percentage of gluten, typically between 7% to 9%.
Bread flour is best suited for making breads that rely on yeast to rise, while cake flour is best suited for making tender cakes, cookies, and pies that do not need to rise or stretch much.
The protein content is what allows bread dough to stretch after it has been kneaded for long enough to develop the gluten. If there is not enough protein in the flour, the bread dough will not be able to stretch, and the texture of the bread will be affected. The bread may turn out crumbly and flat.
However, if you use bread flour in a cake or pastry, it will give the mixture too much gluten and will most likely come out of the oven tough and chewy.
How Is Bread Flour Made?
Bread flour is made by milling hard spring wheat, which has a higher protein content than most other types of wheat. It is different from other types of flour, like cake flour, which is milled from soft winter wheat and has a low protein content. All-purpose flour is typically a combination of both hard milled wheat and soft milled wheat, which makes it acceptable to use for many different purposes.
Are There Any Good Bread Flour Substitutes?
The best type of flour to make bread is obvious: bread flour. This is especially important for bread that relies on yeast to rise and requires kneading because kneading the dough will allow the gluten to develop and give the bread a classic taste and texture.
While bread will almost always turn out best when you use bread flour, it is possible to use all-purpose or whole wheat flour instead. They should still contain enough protein to allow gluten development and give the bread an acceptable texture.
Your bread might not turn out quite as chewy as it would with bread flour, but it will certainly not be ruined by the substitution. All-purpose or whole wheat flour can be substituted with a 1:1 ratio in a recipe that calls for bread flour.
It is also possible to create a substitution for bread flour that may give your bread a better rise and a chewier texture than all-purpose flour alone. Vital wheat gluten, like this quality Amazon brand, can be added to the all-purpose or whole wheat flour in order to increase the protein content in the dough. It may take some trial and error, but you can expect to add about 1-3 teaspoons of vital wheat gluten per cup of all-purpose or whole wheat flour.
This can be a helpful alternative for those who like a chewier, lighter bread but do not want to keep a bag of bread flour.
There is absolutely nothing like the smell of fresh-baked homemade bread. In fact, eating it is often secondary to why I even make it. I know this sounds crazy, but it’s the honest truth. I’m sure most of you reading this know exactly what I’m talking about.
I hope this article has been helpful so that your house can soon be filled with that wonderful aroma.
Thanks for stoppin’ by for a visit!
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.