Self Rising Flour Conundrum

The Cake Flour Conundrum

The Cake Flour Conundrum
The self rising flour conundrum revisited!

Can I use Self Rising Flour instead of Cake Flour since I don’t have that in my country?

Why oh why is it so impossible to find Cake Flour outside of the US?

I want to scream it from the top of a mountain to all the countries to PLEASE start selling Cake Flour!

Why is this such a big deal to me?  Because Cake Flour is a special flour that works wonders in the final result in your baked goods (when the recipe calls for it of course).  I want to be clear on that point “when the recipe calls for it”.

Just because I said it is a wonderful flour doesn’t mean it is to be used all the time, just like bread flour and all purpose flour have their respective places too.

Read all about FLOUR here

So, can I use self rising flour instead of cake flour?

I get this question so much and as usual I answer “Yes, but……………………”

Can you do it? Sure. You can do whatever you want really. Should you do it? Well, that’s a whole other subject all together.

I prefer to stick to the recipe. It is written a certain way for a reason. That reason being that is has been formulated to produce the best possible outcome imaginable. So if you start to change this with that, well….what do you think is going to happen?

It will no longer result in the optimal outcome as intended by the author of the recipe.

I do however understand the need to make substitutions based on what is (or is not) available to you in your particular area of the world.

I was appalled when I learned that the UK (and many other countries for that matter) did not have Cake Flour! This is a tragedy!

I have also come to learn that many of you think Cake Flour and Self Rising flour are one and the same, or at least very interchangeable. This is NOT TRUE.

Let’s talk about flour for a moment.

Cake flour generally has 7% – 8.5% protein. It is beached so therefore weakens the proteins and offers a more delicate end product,  like chiffon and angel food cakes and many cakes that call for this flour.

Self-Rising flour has 8-9% protein and contains soft flour similar to a cake or pastry flour plus baking powder and salt. I do not use this type of flour. Note: If you do choose to use self rise flour you run the risk of it being stored too long both in the market and in your own pantry, causing the baking powder to lose its power and your baked goods will not rise. * I do not use self rising flour and I do not recommend you use it in my recipes.  However, many of you will insist, and so if you DO use it here please note that you may not get the exact result that my recipes are intended to come out as.

Self rising flour has approximately 1 teaspoon – 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and roughly 1/4 teaspoon of salt per 1 cup of flour. 

You see how it is not exact? And it varies by manufacturer too! Remember baking is an EXACT SCIENCE, so…….if you decide to use self rise in place of my specified ingredients, please adjust the baking powder and salt accordingly.

Well what about ……??

All-purpose flourhas a 10-12% protein content and is made from a blend of hard and soft wheat flours. They can be bleached or unbleached. And whether it is bleached or not, it is interchangeable in your recipe without much difference.

You will notice I use AP flour a lot in cake recipes that I find need more strength and structure. Good for making cakes, cookies, breads, and pastries.

So all of this to answer the question…..can I use _______ flour instead of ______flour?

Well, yes and no. You just need to understand WHY.


Cake Flour             = Weak low gluten, Soft smooth texture and pure white in color.

Best for what it is named and that is CAKE


Pastry Flour           = Weak low gluten but is slightly stronger then cake flour, creamy white in color.

For pie dough’s, some cookies, biscuits, and muffins.


European Flour Types use a grading system

T45 and T55             = white wheat flours – breads and pastries

T65                         = high-gluten flours

T80, T110 and T150 = whole wheat flours of increasing darkness

T170                        = dark rye flour


All-Purpose         = General purpose flour, slightly weaker than bread flour, but stronger than cake flour


Self-Rising Flour = White flour that has baking powder and sometimes salt added.

Downside to this is over time baking powder loses its aerating or leavening power

with time, so the quality of the baked goods is unpredictable.


To make your own version of a softer Cake Style Flour:

Measure out 1 cup of all purpose or plain flour.

TAKE OUT 2 Tablespoons and return it to the bin.

Next add 2 Tablespoons of Corn Starch.

Sift this mixture 2 times through a fine mesh sieve and you now have 1 Cup of Cake Flour to use in recipes calling for such.

For those weighing your recipes- 114g All Purpose or Plain Flour + 20g Cornstarch



In the UK self raising flour is called self raising flour. It consists of flour, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and cream of tartar. It can have other ingredients to improve the carbon dioxide eg tartaric acid, calcium phosphate, no salt!!! It is generally called baking powder. It is heavier than cake flour.
Plain flour has no leavening = All Purpose, is heavier than cake flour

Cake flour plain = Extra fine flour 00 grade without leavening, either made by McDougals or Home Pride
Cake flour self raising = Extra fine 00 grade with leavening also made by McDougals/ Home Pride
Extra fine 000 grade used for making sauces, custards, gravy
dusting fish for frying. Looks almost like corn flour/corn starch

Quickest acting baking powder in the UK is Dr Oekter which is activated when wet even at room temperature.
In the USA Rumford’s baking powder contains calcium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate and corn starch which is an anti caking agent.

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  1. Hi Gretchen,

    I found your blog when looking for frosting recipes last year, and have made the Swiss buttercream a couple of times. I really like it, but I need to try finding a better vegetable shortening than the one I used. We do not have a Sweetex in Australia as far as I know, so I used copha. Although I have used it at room temperature, it ends up as lumps in the mixture even after a large amount of beating.

    Your information on flour is very helpful too. I have realised that I can work out the protein content by looking at the label on the various flours. The labels provide nutritional information on the basis of 100 g. This makes it easy to determine the percentage of protein. For instance my self raising flour has 9.5 g of protein which equates to 9.5 %. Now I know what percentage of protein I should be looking for I can check out what is available in the supermarkets here.

    Thank you for your great blog.

    1. excellent! thankyou Cheryl for the info and I know about the Sweetex 🙁 its hard to find for ANYONE outside of a commercial bakery!

      1. HI all who are finding Sweetex hard to find! This is a website I have found with the cheapest option of buying it in bulk:

        I bought the 50lb block and I have made many many batches of frosting with it and it still looks like I barely made a dent in my block! I Love it! You can sometimes find it on Ebay, too, but I prefer to buy from the source and I did a bunch of research for the best price. Hope this helps!! Thanks, Gretchen for the BEST Swiss Buttercream recipe ever!! Everyone raves about it when I bake 🙂

    2. Hi Cheryl,

      Not sure where you live but if in Melbourne the Greensborough Cake Shop (Grimshaw St) sells vegetable shortening. I’ve used it in Gretchens recipe for Swiss buttercream and it was perfect! Thanks Gretchen by the way, awesome recipe! So give them a try or try a specialty cake decorating supplier closer to you. Good luck.


  2. Hi,
    Sorry.. I ask too many I want to try making cake flour Wid d corn flour I if I measure by weight ( I.E AP114 gms plus corn starch 20,I get total 134 gms) n recipe calls for, for example, butter cake, it says 300 gms of Cake flour den I will triple d above formula thrice rite n just use 300 gms asxrequired for the cake n can I use d left over cake flour for be another recipe?

    1. Measure out 1 cup of all purpose or plain flour. (1 cup=130g)
      TAKE OUT 2 Tablespoons and return it to the bin. (1 Tabls = 8g)
      Next add 2 Tablespoons of Corn Starch. (1 Tbs =7g)

      1. Hi Gretchen,

        Just wanting to clarify about making my own Cake Flour – 1 cup of AP = 130g and I take out 2 Tbsp (16g) which leaves me with 114g then I add 2Tbsp of cornstarch (14g) which gives me 128g of cake flour. In a receipe that says 1 cup (120g) cake flour do I need to remeasure what I just made (ie minus 8g) or do I just use the whole thing (128g)? I was googling how to make cake flour and, as Australian measurements for 1 cup are slightly different (125g v 120g), I guesstimated that 100g of AP flour plus 20g cornstarch would equal 120g cake flour. Is that correct or should I stick to your measurements? I have used that equation for the Strawberry Chiffon cake twice and it came out fantastic. Thanks!

  3. For any who think your Swiss Buttercream will not hold up in the heat, have no fear! I made a Barbie Doll cake for my granddaughter and used the Swiss Buttercream for her dress. It turned out beautifully and held up for over 2 hours in 87 degree heat outside in a covered but open pavilion. Same with the leaves of the sunflower cupcakes. And the taste! Oh my, so delicious!
    Looking forward to your great pumpkin pie recipe for Thanksgiving!

    1. you can use cake flour instead. Its very similar in protein content (however Im pretty sure I saw it at Publix? I could be mistaken, I was just at Whole Foods and definitely saw it there)

  4. They have actually started selling cake flour here in the U.K. for the last 1 – 2 years. Readily available in supermarkets, so the word is beginning to spread.

    1. Hi Y Y Yates can you tell me wHat brand of cake flour you use in the UK? I have only seen a Tesco’s own brand that states it’s for a sponge cake. Thank you.

    2. Cake Flour??? Where? I’d love to know as my TESCO and SAINSBURYS does not do it only the 00 McDougalls self raising for Victoria sponge.
      If you could let me know where I would love to buy ASAP! Thanks for posting! Yay!!

  5. After reading your blog to learn mix cake flour was a great relief….ah! I baked the cakes like pro. Wish to learn it earlier because the Cake Flour I could find from my local stores is packed in box, it tastes yuck . Sponge cake and chiffon cake require useing cake flour, even I have mixed it to make waffles, all turned out perfectly. Sift 5 times and store in a container ready to the recipes call for it; sift again right befor add into baking. All purpose and cornstarch mix together make the flour whiter and lighter. Thanks for the easiest and no chemical added, yet ” homemad” ingredient.

  6. Hi Gretchen! I just wanted to know if cornflour is the same as cornstarch. I don’t have cake flour and I am hoping to make some using your instructions above.

  7. Hello Gretchen While looking at your recipes i noticed that a lot of people say to you can i change this and that in your recipes,i find this most annoying as you have put a recipe on your blog for people to try them selves, which i have done many times.The only problem i had was trying to find the cake flour but though trial and error i went into my local asda store and low and behold there it was on the cake and baking ingredient isle , product of Mc Dougalls. So i hope i have helped a few people in the uk and to look on google to see where it can be purchased from . I do hoped i have helped a little, Iris

  8. Well Gretchen I think I’ve possibly cracked it here in the uk?
    Looks like 00 flour is the closest to cake flour.
    After some quick research on this delicate subject, asking, posting etc, etc.
    A few Americans that do cake making have been using 00 when they cannot get cake flour and some even mix with AP.
    I will be trying some experiments on this and see what really does work!
    I shall let you know the outcome.

  9. Hi Gretchen,
    I need your help to get some tips regarding my cakes . when I am baking it makes a big dom on cake but I saw yours don’t so can you tell me how to get rid of that dome because it waste my cake alot to create a leveled cake.

  10. Hi
    I’m still a little confused… So if a recipe called for say 180g cake flour, i would make up a 2 x batches as you described above with 114g AP flour plus 2tbsp corn flour, sift well, then measure out 180g from that?

    Thank you
    Hi Gretchen!
    Please reply as i am due to make another batch of choc cupcakes tomorrow and would really like to use this recipe!
    Thank you so much!

  11. THANK YOU so much for the information it is so helpful,

    What kind of cake flour do you recommend, I went to a place they sale their own cake flour but I think has eggs and sugar 🙂 not sure,, I hope you can answer me back good bless youO:-)

  12. Hi Gretchen, I really like your blog, thank you for sharing all of your knowledge.

    I live in Venezuela, and right now it is very difficult to find basic ingredients. I own a small dessert business, and currently i=I only have access to 00 bread flour, I understand it is not ideal for baking cakes, but I really don’t have much choice. Is there a blend that yu would recommend making in order to achieve similar results as with cake flour and all-purpose?

    Thank you very much,

    1. HI Thank you and you are welcome too!
      I would say to follow the same guidelines as for making your own cake flour and see how that goes for you

      1. I tried reducing 14% of the weight of the flour (of your yellow sponge cake recipe) and substituted it for cornstarch. I have to say I am satisfied with the result. Thank ypu for answering most of the questions, I am learning a lot!

  13. Hi Gretchen – I know you don’t like questions about substitutes but I need to avoid corn products and wonder if to create a “cake flour” I could substitute arrowroot for the cornstarch with the same effect. Based on some conversion tables I’ve been looking at, I’m thinking: take out 2 T AP and add in 1 T arrowroot. If you need me to experiment could you give me some thoughts on what to look for in the end product? or would it just be the light and fluffy since we wouldn’t really know the protein content.

    1. hi I dont mind at all to give subsititutes, however I have not tried arrowroot as a sub in a cake recipe.
      If you try it, please let me know the result thanks!

  14. Hi Gretchen I just wanted to say thanks for the recipe and the instructions it help me a lot the cake came up really soft and moist. I doubt about warming the eggs and also adding the milk and butter at the end but you really surprise me. I just wanted to know if you have a good recipe for a cuban cake whats the difference or what time of cake should i do

  15. Hi Gretchen
    Your baking is always amazing and I am going to try the white cake but here in the UK we dont have ‘cake flour’ I am making a checkerboard cake so want to do 2 white and then 2 chocolate sponges, please do you have a recipe for a chocolate sponge using the same recipe/method? Also would I use plain or SR flour instead of all purpose or cake flour sorry for the ask but really want to make this one work x

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