Real talk: there’s no bigger bummer than starting a baking project and realizing you’re all out of flour. But don’t toss out your in-progress recipe — there are simple DIY hacks you can use to create a worthy substitutes to many types of flour.
Instead of: All-Purpose Flour
All-purpose flour is, as the name suggests, all-purpose. It’s the most common type of flour and, frankly, it can do almost anything. But if you’re halfway through your recipe and suddenly realize your flour bag is completely empty, you don’t need to stop everything to run to the store.
Use: Cake Flour
For every cup of all-purpose flour the recipe calls for, use 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon of cake flour. You can also use bread flour as a 1:1 substitute when making heartier baked goods.
Instead of: Cake Flour
Delicate cake flour gives sweets a tender crumb and delicate texture. It’s typically very low-protein, which keeps gluten from forming in long, stiff chains (which is desirable for bread, but not so much for delicate cakes).
Use: All-Purpose Flour and Cornstarch
When you’re out of cake flour, you can make a substitute using all-purpose flour and cornstarch. The cornstarch helps the flour absorb more water, providing a structure that’s different from gluten formation, resulting in tight, tender, moist cakes.
To get the right ratio, measure out 1 cup of flour, then remove 2 tablespoons. Add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and sift together several times to ensure it’s well mixed. Repeat this process for as many cups as you need, or to make a large batch and save for later use.
Instead of: Pastry Flour
Pastry flour is one of the lesser-known flours for home bakers. It’s higher in protein than cake flour, but lower than all-purpose flour. Its texture is sturdy, but not too bread-like — meaning it’s perfect for pastries.
Use: Cake Flour and All-Purpose Flour
If you don’t have it on hand (or can’t find it at your local grocery store), pastry flour is almost like the “half-and-half” of all-purpose flour and cake flour, so use both for an at-home DIY.
Combine 3 parts all-purpose flour to 1 part cake flour. Sift several times to ensure complete mixing. Use this ratio to create as much flour as you need.
Instead of: Bread Flour
Perhaps you’re all out of bread flour, or maybe you don’t make bread often enough to buy a full bag. This easy trick will allow you to transform all-purpose flour to bread flour any time you want.
Use: All-Purpose Flour and Vital Wheat Gluten
The difference between bread flour and all-purpose flour is primarily a matter of protein content. Vital wheat gluten is the natural protein found in wheat. By adding the vital wheat gluten, you’ll create a higher-protein flour to yield the chewy, hearty bread loaves you crave.
Combine 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1 teaspoon vital wheat gluten. Sift several times to combine. Use the same ratio to create as many cups as you need.
Instead of: Self-Rising Flour
Self-rising flour is essentially flour that already contains a leavening agent, usually baking powder (and often a touch of salt). When a recipe calls for self-rising flour, it typically uses little or no additional leavening.
Use: All-Purpose Flour and Baking Powder
By combining all-purpose flour with baking powder and a touch of salt, you have a simple solution for self-rising flour! Combine 1 cup flour, 1½ teaspoons baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt. Sift together several times to ensure even mixing.
Instead of: Nut Flour
Have you ever noticed some nut flours are crazy expensive? Turns out you can save your dough and make your own in a jiffy with one simple ingredient.
Use: Plain Nuts
Place nuts (blanched, skinless nuts tend to work best) in a food processor or a strong blender with a pulse option. Pulse until it becomes a fine, flour-like texture. You may need to pause a couple of times to make sure there are no chunks.
Pro Tip: Make sure you don’t over-pulse, or you’ll end up with nut butter.