Cake flour is a highly specialized type of wheat flour, intended for use in making cakes, cookies, and other delicate baked goods. Several characteristics differentiate cake flour from other wheat flours, making it unsuitable for certain tasks like baking bread. When baking a cake, most cooks aim to create a light, fluffy cake with a tender crumb. This requires a flour with a low protein content, as protein promotes the production of gluten, which can make baked goods more tough. It also means that the flour must be very finely milled, to keep baked goods from getting heavy. Finally, a flour which is starchy and able to hold large amounts of fat and sugar without collapsing is required.All of these needs are addressed with cake flour, which is made from the endosperm of soft wheat. The endosperm is the softest part of the wheat kernel, making cake flour the finest flour available. As cake flour is milled, it is heavily bleached, not only to make it white but to break down the protein in the flour. The fine grain absorbs fat readily, ensuring that butter and other fats in cakes are well distributed throughout the batter. Cake flour can also carry a high volume of sugar when compared to higher protein flours. Since cake flour is a high-starch flour, it is extremely well suited for certain baking tasks.
How to select
Cake flour has a 6-8% protein content and is made from soft wheat flour. It is chlorinated to further break down the strength of the gluten and is smooth and velvety in texture. Pastry flour is similar to cake flour, although it has not been chlorinated, with an 8-10% protein content and is made from soft wheat flour, so read the ingredients and nutritional labelling before buying.Also check the expiry date and any signs of lumpiness before buying cake flour.
· A cake flour is used to make a white cake where a delicate tender crumb is desired
· Cookie and cake recipes which call for cake flour should be made using cake flour, if possible. In the production of certain other baked goods, cake flour can replace ordinary flour for a lighter end product, using one cup and two tablespoons of cake flour for every cup of flour called for in the recipe
· Cake flour should not be used to make breads and other leavened products, as it is not strong enough.
· Cake Flour is sometimes labeled pre-sifted. This means that the flour was sifted before packaging but it compacts during shipping and handling and therefore is no longer sifted by the time you get it home. So if your recipe calls for sifted flour make sure you sift it again
How to store
Unopened packet of cake flour can be stored for upto 6 months. Keep cake flour after opening the pack in an airtight container and use within 1-2 months. To prevent insects you can store flour in the refrigerator or freezer making sure the flour is defrosted before using. Flour, when packaged, has about a 14% moisture content. When stored, however, its moisture content will vary. In general, the longer flour is stored the more moisture it loses.
· Typically, cake flour is around seven percent protein, much lower than other flours; bread flour, for example, has twice that amount of protein
· Cake flour is also rich in sugar and hence a good source of energy.