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Cake baking questions
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Lady Amalthea

Joined: 18 Dec 2004
Posts: 136
Location: New York City

PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2005 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cupcake Carrie wrote:
Oh, that sounds just lovely! You all are making me want to bust out my cake decorating supplies! Smile

I agree! When I was in eighth grade, a bunch of girlfriends (one of whom knew how to bake) and I threw a surprise birthday party for another friend. The night before the party, I showed up at the baker's house with a big back of candied flowers and other pretty things and we had the time of our lives decorating.

I havent' done much baking since then, aside from brownies for long rehearsals. But I'm intrigued now. I have a question--what's the difference between cake flour and All-purpose? And does it really matter if I use cake flour? I have a recipe in mind for when my partner comes back from his vacation in China next week but it calls for cake AND all-purpose flour. Advice?

PS Congrats Dairy Queen, and I hope we hear all about your decorating results.
Don't forget the cannolis!
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Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Chicago and other places

PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2005 1:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lady Amalthea: what a lovely story about the Cake-A-Thon for your friend! I'm sure that she probably has the same wonderful memory of that time as you do!

I had to look over my shoulder so see "who" was writing this post...ME??? About 'Cake Flour'???? Well, in all my research on All Things Cake, I've read and read and read about stuff, so the facts are right at my fingertips.


In the process of baking, wheat flours are the main ingredient in most products. Wheat has two main growing cycles, Spring Wheat or Winter Wheat. These cycles, along with the region and soil content produce soft and hard wheat, or wheat with a high starch content or high gluten content. The high amount of, or lack of gluten protein is what gives wheat flour its baking qualities.

All-Purpose Flour:
Developed for the home baker. A general all-purpose flour useful for cookies, muffins, rolls and some breads. The flour is usually made out of hard red winter wheat and/or soft winter wheat. The flour is usually bleached, malted and enriched. Typically this flour contains a protein level between 9.0% to 11.0%.

Bread Flour:
A flour that typically has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour capable of producing breads and rolls of excellent quality. The flour is usually made with a greater percentage of hard red winter or hard red spring wheat which have higher gluten content giving the bread dough the elastic quality necessary for greater product volume. Protein levels vary from 10.5%-12.0%. The flour is usually malted, enriched and can be unbleached or bleached. Common applications include breads, pizza crusts and specialty baked goods.

High Gluten Flour:
The highest gluten content of all of the wheat flours used for baking. This flour comes from Hard Winter or Spring Wheat, and has a gluten content from 12-13%. This flour is used for dough needing extra strength and elasticity such as pizza, focaccia, mullet-grain breads and Kaiser rolls.

Whole Wheat Flour:
Also called graham flour is flour milled form the whole grain, it contains all of the bran and germ from the wheat berry. Most whole wheat are made out a hard red wheat, but hard white wheat (a white wheat berry is "whiter in appearance" than a red wheat berry) is gaining in popularity due to its lighter appearance and naturally sweeter taste. It is used for breads, rolls and some pastries. Because it contains the germ and bran, it retains vital nutrients. It needs to be used fresh, and stored properly as it gets rancid quickly due to the high fat content from the wheat germ. Typical protein levels range from 11.5%-14.0% and most whole wheat flours are enriched.

Self-Rising Flour:
Self-rising flour is typically all-purpose flour (flour made from hard red winter or soft red winter wheat) blended with baking soda and salt. The flour is predominantly used for scratch biscuits, pancakes and cookies. Protein levels run from 9.5%-11.5% and the flour is enriched. This type of flour cannot have a very high protein level other wise baked end-products will not have a light and fluffy texture and will not "relax" during the baking or cooking process.

Cake Flour:
Usually bleached, and of soft texture and smooth feel. It is milled from soft winter wheat. It has a low protein or gluten content, and produces cakes with a tender crumb. Protein content is typically 8.5%-10% and the flour is enriched.

Pastry Flour:
This flour can be bleached or unbleached. Used for cookies and pastries. It too comes from soft winter wheat, and is very starchy. It has a low protein content, and produces pies and pastries with a flaky or tender consistency. Protein content is typically 8.5%-10% and the flour is enriched.

Vital Wheat Gluten:
Flour milled from the pure gluten derived from washing the wheat flour to remove the starch. The gluten that remains is dried, ground into a powder and used to strengthen flours lacking in gluten, such as rye or other non-wheat flours.

Other types of Flours: Non-Wheat

Rye Flour:
Flour ground from the cereal grass grain rye (Gramineae). It is grown in the northern part of the United States, Canada, Eastern Europe and Russia. It has a very low gluten content (less than 2%) and is usually blended with wheat flour to produce a lighter loaf. In artisan baking, rye flour is fermented and makes very acceptable loaves. The flat breads of Scandinavia are produced from rye flours.

Oat Flour:
Flour ground from another cereal grass (Gramineae).
It is used in combination with wheat flours to produce tasty breads with excellent keeping qualities, and the bran from oat flour has been found to lower cholesterol.

Soy Flour:
Flour derived from the soybean seeds (Leguminosae)
Soy flour has very little starch, but is extremely high in protein.It is considered a complete protein for the human diet. It is used only as supplement to breads to increase the nutritional protein as it is low in gluten.

According to THE JOY OF COOKING: In emergencies, although the results will NOT be the same, you may substitute 1 Cup minus 2 TABLESPOONS of sifted All Purpose Flour=1 Cup of Cake Flour

(I'm just trying to imagine what constitutes a "Cake Emergency?" Shocked

Lady Amalthea: I opened up a Photo Bucket account, and plan on taking photos of each class that I take, so I'll be able to share the horror and success stories...and the photos!
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Lady Amalthea

Joined: 18 Dec 2004
Posts: 136
Location: New York City

PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2005 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dairy Queen: Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful flour research! I'm convinced; I'll but some "farine a gateau" tomorrow. My partner comes home from a three-week trip to Asia on Tuesday and I'd love to have a fresh-baked fruity something when he gets in. I'm thinking of an orange or clementine (I have so many in the house and the season's almost over!) based cakey thing. But I want it to be light, so I'll use that cake flour.

I can't wait to see your decorating pictures!
Don't forget the cannolis!
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