If you’ve ever wondered about the difference between Cake Flour Vs. All Purpose Flour, you’ve come to the right place! I’ve outlined everything you need to know about these two essential baking flours and even provided some suggestions for what to make with them!

slice of vanilla cake with chocolate frosting sitting on a metal cake spatula.

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Cake Flour vs. All Purpose Flour

So, what’s the big difference between cake flour and all-purpose flour? Can they be swapped interchangeably? What if I can’t find cake flour at the store? I’ve wondered some of these questions myself, and I’m sure you have, too!

If you do much cooking or baking, you likely keep all-purpose flour stocked in the cupboard as it’s the most common type of flour used in a variety of recipes. Easy to find in the baking section of nearly any local grocery store, all-purpose flour has a white appearance and neutral flavor. As a result, it’s extremely versatile and easy to use.

However, occasionally you’ll find a recipe that calls for cake flour. Not as common, this fine flour is used specifically for baking and is great for moist, tender cake recipes, as the name suggests! This flour is specifically designed to help produce tender, delicate baked goods. As a result, it is not suitable for every kind of recipe.

So, what is the big difference between the two? If you don’t have one or the other, can you do a direct substitute? Keep reading to find out!

White flour and eggs on wooden table.

What is Cake Flour?

Cake flour is a type of light flour made from finely milled soft wheat. It has a lower protein content than other flours such as all-purpose flour. For instance, cake flour contains roughly 5 to 7 percent protein. Meanwhile, all-purpose flour contains about 10 to 13 percent protein. This is important to know, because the more protein flour has, the more gluten it has. Gluten acts as a binding agent, impacting the texture of foods as they bake.

This means that cakes or baked goods made with cake flour will have a fluffier texture and a looser crumb than items made with all-purpose flour, which has a higher protein content (and more gluten, leading to a firmer, denser texture).

You don’t technically need to bake cakes that have a soft crumb, but some cakes in particular, like an angel food cake, really benefit from a softer flour!

flour in wooden bowl on kitchen table.

What is All-Purpose Flour?

All-purpose flour is the workhorse of the baker’s kitchen. One of the most versatile flours available, all-purpose flour is a medium gluten flour, designed to be used in a variety of recipes from cookies to cake to bread, and forms the base of most baked goods.

In general, wheat flours are distinguished by their gluten content. As mentioned, all-purpose flour is around 10 to 13 percent gluten. Meanwhile, cake flour is about 5 to 7 percent gluten, and bread flour is a bit higher at 13 to 14 percent gluten. By keeping these differences in mind you can choose the flour that’s most suitable for your baking project (sometimes it’s a combination of flours!).

Substituting All-Purpose Flour for Cake Flour

In general, it is fine to substitute all-purpose flour for cake flour if you don’t happen to have cake flour on hand to use in a recipe. Your final product will have a less fine crumb, but it will bake up perfectly fine (and you may not even notice the difference).

Substituting Cake Flour for All-Purpose Flour

You probably won’t have extra boxes of cake flour sitting around. So, this question may not come up often! But just so you know: while you can typically substitute all-purpose flour for cake flour in a recipe, you won’t want to use cake flour unless it’s specifically called for in the ingredients list. If you use cake flour in a recipe that calls for all-purpose flour, your final product is likely to be fragile and fall apart easily due to the lower protein content.

Brands of Cake Flour

There are a few brands of cake flour to choose from. Some are easier to find than others. However, they’ll typically be located in the baking section of your local grocery store. I’ve outlined some of the most popular and widely available options for you below:

  • Pillsbury Softasilk Cake Flour
  • Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached Fine White Pastry
  • Swans Down Regular Cake Flour
  • King Arthur Cake Flour
  • General Mills Purasnow Cake Flour

How to Make Your Own Cake Flour

If you absolutely must have cake flour for a recipe and don’t have any in the pantry, you can easily make your own version with all-purpose flour and a bit of added cornstarch for lightness.

Here’s how to do it: Whisk together 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Make sure they’re well combined! This mixture can be substituted evenly with cake flour in any recipe.

Dessert Recipes with Cake Flour

Here are a few of my favorite recipes that use cake flour:

Birthday Cake
This birthday cake is a classic two-layer yellow cake topped with fluffy chocolate frosting and colorful sprinkles. It's the perfect cake for a celebration!
View Recipe
A slice of double layer pink velvet cake with buttercream frosting.
Pink Velvet Cake
Pink velvet cake is sweet, a little bit tangy, and the prettiest pink cake you'll ever make! It's perfect for Valentine’s Day, a pink-themed birthday party, or a baby shower. 
View Recipe
Red-Velvet Cupcakes
Red Velvet Cupcakes
The Very Best Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe! These cupcakes are so easy, you’ll wonder why you ever bought them from the bakery!
View Recipe
Coconut Cake
This classic coconut cake is an old-fashioned sheet cake made in a 9×13 inch pan. Making moist, rich coconut cake from scratch is super easy!
View Recipe

Dessert Recipes with All-Purpose Flour

Here are a few of my favorite treats that use all-purpose flour:

slice of moist banana cake topped with frosting
Old Fashioned Banana Cake
This Homemade Old Fashioned Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is the most flavorful moist cake that is topped with an easy cream cheese frosting. Banana Cake a delicious twist on banana bread – perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
View Recipe
Wacky Cake
Wacky cake is an easy cake recipe your whole family will love! Because it's made without eggs, it's the perfect recipe to make when you don't want to run to the grocery store.
View Recipe
Coconut Cream Cupcakes with Homemade Buttercream Frosting
Coconut Cream Cupcakes with Homemade Buttercream Frosting
Check out these semi-homemade Coconut Cream Cupcakes! Made from a doctored up cake mix and topped with homemade buttercream frosting…easy AND delicious!
View Recipe
Coca Cola Cake
Coca-Cola Cake is a Southern classic! It’s fudgy, moist, and full of rich chocolate flavor, which is why you’ll want to make it again and again!
View Recipe

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About Kasey Schwartz

For over 15 years, Kasey Schwartz, the mastermind behind All Things Mamma, has been the ultimate go-to for mouthwatering family recipes. Her work has been featured on Today.com, Buzz Feed, Better Homes and Gardens, and more, making her your go-to mom next door for all things delicious and family-friendly.


  1. Marilyn Reames says:

    message beThank you for that because I was never aware of that. Not sure they even have that at my store but will definitely look the next time I visit the store.

  2. Perfect. Love your site. Helpful hints and great recipes.

    1. Shyanne - ATM Team says:

      Thank you, Ruby! We’re so happy to have you here!

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