The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Best flour to make gourmet cupcakes?

rharris0324's picture

Best flour to make gourmet cupcakes?


Which type of flour; pastry flour, cake flour or all purpose flour, do professional bakers use to make cupcakes?  I currently use All Purpose Flour and occasionally depending on the type of cupcake I use cake flour. 

I heard that most professional bakers use pastry flour, is that true?

Is it best to use pastry flour to help make the cupcakes be more moist and raise up rather than be flat?

Please let me know.



dghdctr's picture

All-purpose flour will get you more height, maybe, but even just a little too much mixing and the results will be tough.  It has a lot more gluten than any cake flour.  Pastry flour would, in most cases, also be a stronger flour, which doesn't mean you can't use it, but you can't just substitute it one-for-one to replace cake flour in an already proven formula.  The higher the gluten content of the flour, the more liquid (water or milk) is required to create the right consistency in the cake batter.

Cupcakes, as the name suggests, are just little cakes.  Any favorite cake batter can be made into cupcakes -- you just bake them a lot less time, and maybe at a slightly higher temperature, than you would for a full-sized 9-inch cake layer.  A cake doesn't usually derive as much of its structure from proteins as it does from its starches and eggs.  Or, at least, that's what you aim for usually in American-style baking.  Sugar in the formula may often exceed the flour in actual quantity precisely because we don't WANT too much gluten development or strong gluten bonds, and sugar helps to weaken those bonds.  The butter or oil in the formula helps to weaken them as well.

A cake batter formulated with AP flour may come out fine, but if you want something exceptionally tender, I'd use a formula based on cake flour.

-- Dan DiMuzio


Susan Kline's picture
Susan Kline

Dan,  Your response is so thorough and even though the question was not mine, I feel so much more informed about the different flours now.  Thank you!