If you are not too familiar with baking terminologies like professional bakers and chefs may be, you can find terms like all purpose flour and cake flour confusing. You may even wonder why one wouldn’t simply use any wheat flour for baking instead of going the extra mile of using specific kinds of flour for baking. Well, if you are confused about the two types of wheat flour, you should know that they’re different in terms of their components.
All purpose flour is used for wider baking purposes including baking bread, cookies, biscuits, muffins, and cakes while cake flour is only confined to baking cakes, cookies, biscuits, and pastries. The kind of flour you use when baking will therefore depend on what you are baking. If you’re baking bread then you will need to use an all purpose flour while if you are baking a cake then you will require cake flour.
Even though they are both made from wheat, all purpose flour and cake flour differ from each other in a number of ways. The differences are as follows:
All purpose flour and cake flour have different protein contents. All purpose flour contains more protein than cake flour. The protein content of all purpose flour is 10%-12% while that of cake flour is 7%-8%. Wheat flour contains a type of protein known as gluten. Gluten is the substance that makes yeast rise in a dough.
The reason all purpose flour is used in baking bread is because more gluten is required in order to form the dense and munchy structure of bread. Cake flour on the other hand is used in baking cakes because flours with less gluten content help to give out the lighter structure that is needed in cakes. Gluten plays a major role in the texture and structure of final baked products.
Protein content however is not always the same in all flours even if they are of the same type. It varies depending on the brand, region, and country.
Type of wheat
All purpose flour and cake flour differ from one another in terms of the type of wheat from which they are made. All purpose flour is usually made from hard wheat but it can also be made from a mixture of hard and soft wheat. Cake flour is however predominantly made from soft wheat. Hard wheat is high in gluten while soft wheat contains less gluten.
Hard wheat is needed in bread making because of its high gluten content which enables yeasts to stretch and rise while soft wheat is needed in cake flour to give cakes a soft and tender structure. Soft wheat also gives a tender structure to the pastries which are made from cake flour.
Cake flour is in addition high in starch and this makes it ideal for making cakes, cookies, biscuits, and pastries as it results into a soft and tender structure for these products.
All purpose flour is usually available in both bleached and unbleached forms. Its bleached or unbleached form is used depending on the type of product being made. Cake flour on the other hand is usually only made from bleached wheat.
Bleaching helps raising agents to function better in the process of baking. It helps to stabilise the gases which are produced by the raising agents and also helps to repel liquids and bind fats. This leads to better quality of the baked products especially in cakes.
All purpose flour is averagely milled while cake flour undergoes thorough milling to produce fine flour.