The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

question about flour

sagharbormo's picture

question about flour

A national chain, Restaurant Depot, has a sale on 50lb bag of cake flour for $12. So I didn't pass it up. I only like making breads and bread variants, rolls, etc. don't like making cakes or desserts as I don't like having Satan before me. My question is, since cake flour has low gluten content and is ultra fine how can it be best used for bread making? Any suggestions are appreciated and mucho thanks.

ananda's picture

Hi sagharbormo,

Sorry to bear not such good news, but there are several reasons why cake flour produces poor bread, and the lower gluten content is only part of the picture.

Cake flour is very finely ground.   This results in increased starch damage.   This means if the flour is used for breadmaking, that the amylase activity becomes very rapid, so the starches are quickly broken down into sugars and the fermentation activity is over before you know it.   Combine this with inability to form a gluten network, and you end up with bread with very little colour, poor structure and volume, and no keeping qualities.

There is also the possibility that the flour may well have been treated.   If you are US-based, then the flour may have been bleached with chlorine gas.   This has been banned in Europe [I'm UK-based], but heat-treated flour is still a popular alternative.   The effect of both these treatments is that the protein content becomes de-natured, so the gluten development and dough elasticity is further compromised still.

So, you'll be starting to make cakes then??!

Best wishes


LindyD's picture

 My question is, since cake flour has low gluten content and is ultra fine how can it be best used for bread making?

Cake flour is not appropriate for bread (that's why it's called cake flour).   Milled from soft wheat, it has the least amount of gluten of all wheat flours.  I've read that it's been chemically altered for better results in cake baking, and that it's not wise to use it for cookies or quick breads as it tends to make them very crumbly.

Did you happen to check the expiration date on that 50# bag?

EvaB's picture

but would certainly check the ingredients before I baked with it. I might have additives being a chain resturant cake flour.

If you don't want to have the deserts in front of you, bake them up and find some way to sell them or give them away to a good cause. I am sure that the local food bank would be happy to have goodies to give to the people. And if not, then find a way to use it up!

copyu's picture

you could probably mix it with the strongest bread flour you can find, maybe 13.5% protein (say, 50-50; CF:BF) for some acceptable no-knead-bread boules...I'd try baguettes as well.

You could also try a tablespoon of Vital Wheat Gluten per pound of mixed flours.You'll almost certainly need to adjust the bulk ferment timings (lower, but I'm not sure by how much—several hours, at least) and not be too disappointed if the 'wheat taste' is lacking. [Adding more salt for a straight white bread might help(?)]

It will definitely bake OK, so you might want to try some more 'enriched' styles...Brioche, Challah, etc...If THAT doesn't work to your satisfaction, you haven't lost much. (I have to pay $12:50 for a very small amount of ANY kind of flour...) :-(

It's a good time to experiment, if you have the luxury of "free-time". Let us know if you have any luck 

Sincere best wishes,


PS: Try adding a few ounces of durum semolina to the mixed CF and BF...copyu