What’s the Difference Between All-Purpose Flour, Bread Flour, Cake Flour, and Pastry Flour?

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In cooking and baking, very small choices such as using a certain type of flour can change the result of your efforts!

Each of these flours has its own behavior and has a great impact on the cake, bread, and dessert you bake. Join me as we explore the characteristics and usage of each of these white flours.

So what’s the difference between all-purpose flour and bread flour?

Difference Between Flours

All-Purpose Flour

Whenever I want to buy flour, my first choice is all-purpose flour and it can be easily found in any store. It is clear from its name that you can use it in most recipes.

A positive characteristic of all-purpose flour is its simple and predictable behavior when baking, so anyone with any level of experience can easily enter the world of baking.

In the process of making this flour, wheat bran and germs are removed from it and the protein is reduced to about 11%.

The downside is this flour does not have the wonderful flavor of wheat. Of course, sometimes this is exactly what we want.

Cake and Pastry Flour

Cake flour and pastry flour both have a lower percentage of protein so you can have tender, crumbly, or flaky baked goods while keeping the texture deliciously airy and light.

This type of flour has about 9% and pastry flour even less about 7% protein, which greatly reduces the activity of gluten during baking and reduces the amount of chewiness.

Cake and pastry flour substitute: 1 cup cake flour is 2 tablespoons cornstarch + 14 tablespoons all-purpose flour.

Bread Flour

The marked difference between bread flour and all-purpose flour is their protein and gluten content. Bread flour has an even higher percentage of protein, about 13%, and the extra amount of protein improves gluten function.

You are using bread flour, so you definitely want gluten to do its job in the best way. I advise you not to forget kneading because it helps to create a good texture by trapping air in the dough.

This flour is a great option whenever you want the texture of something you cook to be more bubbly and chewy and to feel the taste of wheat more.

Bread flour substitute: 1 cup cake flour is 1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten + 15 tablespoons all-purpose flour.

Tip: Sometimes it can be used instead of all-purpose flour, especially for making recipes like pizza dough.

Tip: Remember not to use this flour when you want to have a soft, light, and tender texture!


I come to the conclusion again that I have to know every ingredient of cooking well in order to be able to cook something that I enjoy.

What do you think?

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