Can You Use Bread Flour for Cake

If you’re planning to bake a cake but notice you only have bread flour on hand, you might wonder, “Can I use bread flour to bake a cake?” The simple answer is yes, you can. As long as you add cornstarch to the bread flour and don’t overmix the ingredients, you can succeed.

Hey, there! My name is Michelle, and I love to bake cakes right at home. I typically use all-purpose flour or cake-specific flour, but I understand why someone might be in a bind and only have bread flour.

When baking a cake with bread flour, things can be a little tricky. This article shares why you can but technically shouldn’t bake a cake with bread flour. It also shares how you can be successful with the proper techniques.

Let’s bake some bread! I mean cake!

Can You Use Bread Flour for Cake?

Yes, you can use bread flour for cake. 

But keep in mind, the keyword here is can. You can use bread flour to bake a cake if that’s all you have. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should, though.

Why?

Difference Between Bread Flour and Cake Flour

It all comes down to the difference between bread flour and cake flour (or all-purpose flour, for that matter). Bread flour is known as “hard” wheat because it contains 11-13% proteins. Cake flour is “soft” wheat because of its much lower protein content, 7-9%.

Why does this matter? When proteins (glutenin and gliadin) are mixed with water, they begin to develop a gluten network. The higher the protein, the stronger the gluten. This results in a denser and more structured baked good – which is why it’s ideal for bread.

This is also why all-purpose flour can be used for just about anything. It’s right at the middle with around 11% protein, making it weak enough for cakes but strong enough for bread.

What Happens if You Use Bread Flour to Bake a Cake?

Using bread flour won’t completely ruin your cake. 

However, since the gluten will be more present and stronger, your cake will have a denser and more structured result. It may also be noticeably chewier than cakes you’ve baked in the past. 

Obviously, this is the opposite of the light, fluffy, and crumbly texture most people want from their cake. However, the flavors will still be present, and you might end up liking the result. Why not give it a shot?

How to Make Cake Using Bread Flour

Don’t panic if you only have bread flour on hand and are in a pinch. You can make a cake using bread flour. You will need to cut down on the amount of gluten present, though. Don’t worry – it’s not as difficult as it sounds. Here’s how to do it.

  • Mix cornstarch in with your bread flour. Cornstarch will work to “dilute” some of the protein found in bread flour. To do this, simply add three tablespoons of cornstarch to each cup of bread flour. 
  • Don’t overmix your ingredients. Mixing ingredients causes the gluten network to form. That said, don’t overmix your cake batter. Mix enough so there are no clumps, and prepare it for baking immediately.

You can always fall along with a cake recipe specifically designed for cake flour, too.

Cake Flour: The Best Option for Cakes

Moving forward, I encourage you to rely on cake flour rather than bread flour. Cake flour has a low protein content of only 7% to 9%. Therefore, it won’t create a super-strong gluten network, resulting in a crumbly and lightweight texture.

If you don’t want to spend the extra dollars on cake-specific flour, you can always buy budget-friendly and highly versatile all-purpose flour to get the job done.

FAQs

Basically, you can use bread flour to bake a cake, but the texture will be altered. If you still have some questions about baking a cake with bread flour, I’ve got you covered, bakers. Let’s check out these frequently asked questions.

Can you use bread flour instead of plain flour for baking?

How negatively bread flour will impact your baked good depends solely on the type of treat you’re baking. When baking, you can use bread flour in place of plain flour, but the texture may be altered. For example, cakes, cupcakes, and pastries will become much denser and chewier.

What can I use instead of cake flour?

All-purpose flour is a great option to use instead of cake flour. You can also add a bit of cornstarch or arrowroot powder to the all-purpose flour to reduce the number of proteins, allowing your cake to achieve that fluffy texture we all know and love.

Can you use bread flour for banana bread?

Although banana bread has the term “bread” in it, you might not want to use bread flour for this baked good. Banana bread is meant to be moist and lightweight rather than dense and chewy like sourdough or white bread. Therefore, the banana bread might come out a bit tough.

Final Words

Bread flour can be used to bake a cake, but it will turn out far denser and chewier than desired due to the protein content. You can reduce the protein content by mixing the bread flour with some cornstarch and not overmixing the cake batter. 

Have you ever made a cake using bread flour? How did it turn out? Share below! We would love to hear your success stories (and fails).

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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