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Cake flour is a low protein flour that’s milled into a fine consistency. It contains about 7-9% protein, while all-purpose flour, a harder flour, has anywhere between 10-12%. What does this mean for baking? You see, protein content is directly related to gluten formation. Cake flour’s lower protein means less gluten is formed as you mix the batter together. Less gluten formation equates to a softer, fluffier texture.
Some recipes simply can’t withstand fine cake flour. Chocolate cake, for example, already has cocoa powder— which is a VERY fine dry ingredient. The combination of cake flour and cocoa powder usually results in a flimsy cake. Additionally, carrot cake and banana cake contain additional wet ingredients (the fruits or veggies), so cake flour isn’t really ideal. You need a stronger flour-like all-purpose flour.
Stick to cake flour when making vanilla cake, white cake, pineapple upside-down cake, red velvet cake, and other cakes where a fluffy texture is favorable. Substitute cake flour for all-purpose flour to create a softer funfetti cake. Make a 1:1 substitution with no other changes to the recipe.