Is Self-rising Flour the Same as Cake Flour?

Years of baking have shown me that sometimes gathering ingredients can be even harder than the actual process of baking. What it also taught me is how important it is to learn how to improvise and find the right substitutes.

When I started baking, I didn’t know the difference between self-rising flour and cake flour. Needless to say, I’ve failed many times because of it. Self-rising flour and cake flour are not the same, using one in place of the other will give you a very different result.

I’m Angie, I’m a self-taught baker who/s been baking for over 10 years. In this article, I’ll explain what self-rising flour and cake flour is, how they’re alike and different, and what you can use to substitute them. 

Let’s flour it up!

What is Self-rising Flour?

Self-rising flour is flour with baking powder and a little bit of salt added to it. As the name suggests, self-rising flour contains leavening properties and therefore doesn’t require the addition of extra leavener in order to rise. 

Self-rising flour comes in handy when making cakes, biscuits, pancakes, and other baked goods that are expected to expand in volume when baked. You can add it directly without the extra step of measuring out your baking powder which can help save time!

What is Cake Flour?

Cake flour is simply a finely-milled flour that is lower in protein compared to regular flour. Typically speaking, cake flour has about 7-9% protein whereas all-purpose flour on the other hand contains 10-12% protein.

Because of its fine texture and low protein content, less gluten is produced when cake flour is used which results in a fluffier, lighter, and softer cake. 

Cake Flour and Self-Rising Flour Substitute

Cake flour and self-rising flour are not interchangeable. That said, you can easily make a substitute with things you probably already have at home.

Self-rising Flour Substitute

To make self-rising flour, all you need is some all-purpose flour, baking powder, and a little bit of salt. For every cup of self-rising flour called for in your recipe, you will need to add 1 ½ teaspoon (6 grams) of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon of salt to one level cup (125 grams) of all-purpose flour. 

If you have cake flour on hand and not all-purpose flour, don’t worry because you can use cake flour instead for the same (possibly fluffier) result. Just make sure that for either substitute method, you whisk your flour mixture thoroughly or sift them together before use. 

Cake Flour Substitute

Now you can’t substitute cake flour with self-rising flour. But you can still easily make cake flour if you have some cornstarch in the kitchen. 

All you’ll need to do is to remove two tablespoons from one level cup of all-purpose flour, replace that with two tablespoons of cornflour added back in. By removing some of the flour and adding in cornflour, you’re essentially lowering the protein content of the flour so it matches that of cake flour!

FAQs

Here are some commonly asked questions regarding self-rising flour and cake flour that you might still have. I’ve answered them below. 

What can I use if I don’t have cake flour?

If you don’t have cake flour, you can follow the instructions above to make your own cake flour. Or, you can simply use all-purpose flour. The texture might not be as soft, but the taste won’t be affected and you should still get a great result. 

Is bread flour the same as cake flour?

Bread flour is not the same as cake flour. Bread flour has a much higher gluten content compared to cake flour which allows the bread dough to become elastic. 

Final Thoughts

Cake flour and self-rising flour are not the same, nor are they interchangeable. But as you see, making them really isn’t that hard and should only take a minute. Next time you can’t find self-rising flour and cake flour, no need to run to the store, try one of the substitutes mentioned above!

Have you ever mixed up self-rising flour and cake flour? What was the result? Share your “horror stories” with us below!

About Angie
I am a self-taught baker. I’ve been baking for over 10 years and started my own home baking business as a side hustle. I was born in Hong Kong and spent a pretty big chunk of my life in Canada. If you’re ever looking for me, I am probably there whisking vigorously away in the kitchen.

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  • Eric

    I came across your article, and I love how helpful this is. But I noticed one thing about it that stood out. In the section ‘Cake Flour Substitute’ your first sentence, you reference using cornstarch, but the next paragraph you seem to replace corn starch with cornflour, yet the two ingredients, from what I’ve found, are not interchangeable. So I was hoping to ask for clarification as to which one you meant to be used to create a ‘Cake Flour’ substitute. I hope you might be able to reply quickly as I was intending to bake 2 cakes in the next 2 days, and found your article to be a helpful reference.

    Reply