Numerous times over the years have occurred where I will run out of a particular type of flour and be stuck deciding whether I can substitute or not. I’ve dealt with this so often in over 50 years of cooking that I can give you a definitive answer to the question.
If a recipe calls for baking soda and salt, self-rising flour can be used instead of all-purpose flour, but only if the baking soda and salt are omitted. This is because self-rising flour already has those ingredients. Self-rising flour should not be substituted if baking soda and salt are not called for.
Just keep in mind that if you do swap them, determining how much of each ingredient is included in self-rising flour is impossible, so results may vary. Now, let’s take a closer look at the problem to see if you actually should do the substitution or whether there may be another alternative.
Self-Rising vs. All-Purpose Flour – What’s the Difference?
To reiterate, the primary difference between self-rising and all-purpose flour is that in self-rising flour, salt and baking powder have been added to the flour and distributed evenly throughout the bag. Because baking powder is a leavening agent, it will most likely not turn out correctly if you use self-rising flour instead of all-purpose.
If your recipe calls for all-purpose flour, but you only have self-rising flour, you may be able to make a substitution. However, the recipe must also call for baking powder and salt.
If it does, all you have to do is make the necessary adjustments by leaving out the baking powder and salt because it is already in the flour. However, if you do not make the proper adjustments or end up with too much or too little baking powder in your recipe, you may not achieve the desired result. Even so, my recipes have generally come out just fine over the years.
Cons of Substituting
If you decide to substitute self-rising flour for all-purpose flour, you could end up with a product that rises too much and may even collapse. It’s a real possibility that the flour will consist of an excess or insufficient amount of baking powder, causing your product to turn out much differently than anticipated.
Also, you should also not use self-rising flour in recipes that call for yeast. Because baking powder and yeast are both leavening agents, the dough may rise much more than anticipated and will most likely collapse in the oven, leading to a flat and chewy final product.
What Else Can I Substitute for All-Purpose Flour?
Several different kinds of flour can be substituted for all-purpose flour. Not all are easily found at every grocery store, but several types are.
Whole Wheat Flour
Whole wheat flour is similar to all-purpose flour, but how it is processed makes it slightly different.
Usually hulled from red wheat grain, whole wheat flour is suitable for heavier breads and baked goods. It has a slightly nutty taste and will produce baked goods that are chewier than those made with all-purpose flour. Even so, whole wheat flour is usually an acceptable substitute in most recipes, and the final product will probably not be significantly affected by the substitution.
Bread flour is unique in that it contains a relatively high level of gluten. Generally, bread flour contains about 13-14% gluten, compared to approximately 9-11% in all-purpose flour.
Gluten is what allows bread dough to stretch, and what gives baked bread a slightly chewy texture. Thus, bread flour should only be substituted for all-purpose flour when you are trying to achieve a chewier baked good, like a loaf of bread or a pizza crust.
Bread flour will make cookies and pie crusts chewy and tough, so it is best to stick with all-purpose or whole wheat flour for these baked goods.
Some people may prefer to use gluten-free flour for a variety of reasons. There are several varieties to choose from, although not all of them may be readily available at your local grocery store.
- Almond Flour- One of the most common types of gluten-free flour is almond flour, which is made from ground and blanched almonds. Your batter may be slightly thicker and the end product a little denser than with all-purpose flour, but it will likely produce a similar baked good.
- Oat flour– Another good substitute for all-purpose flour in baked goods. The baked goods may be more crumbly or chewy, but oat flour will give them a wonderful flavor.
- Buckwheat flour– Also gluten-free and is best used to make bread that will provide a rich and earthy flavor.
Now you should have all the tools you need to decide whether you should substitute with self-rising flour or now. If you try it, let me know how it turns out in the comments below. I’d love to hear how it turned out!
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