Difference Between Cake Flour and Pastry Flour (With Table) 

To get your cakes and other baked goods extra airy and delicious, you can use cake flour or pastry flour. Both being fine-textured flours are great for baking, but the results you may get will vary as they both have their own differences. 

Cake Flour vs Pastry Flour 

The difference between cake flour and pastry Flour is that cake flour has a lower protein content, and pastry flour has a relatively high protein content. This is because cake flour goes through a bleaching process which helps in breaking down proteins. Cake flour also has higher starch content, and party flour has a higher gluten quantity.

Cake flour is flour that is very finely milled, and it is the lightest flour you could find. It has a very soft and airy texture. This flour is bleached, which reduces its protein content but allows it to rise more evenly. It also contains a high quantity of starch and has a higher absorption ability. It’s great for recipes with a good sugar-flour ratio and more delicate baked goods. 

Pastry flour is also milled to a fine texture but is more defined than cake flour. It doesn’t go through the bleaching process, and neither does it go through chlorination. It has a higher protein content which helps in achieving a tender baking process, and a fine crust in recipes like pies, pound cakes, etc. It has a lower starch content but a higher quantity of gluten present.

Comparison Table Between Cake Flour and Pastry Flour 

Parameters of Comparison Cake Flour Pastry Flour 
Uses Delicate baked goods and recipes with high sugar-flour ratios. It is ideal for things like pastries, cookies, muffins, cakes, pies, etc. 
Protein 7% to 8.5%  8.5% to 9.5% 
Starch It has a high starch content. It has a comparatively lower starch content. 
Absorption Absorbs more. Absorbs less liquid. 
Texture Soft texture. A more defined texture. 
Bleached It is bleached. It is not bleached. 

What is Cake Flour? 

Cake flour is made from soft quality wheat and is milled into tiny particles. It goes through a bleaching process that weakens the protein present in the cake flour, which makes it a more delicate flour. The protein content in it is lower, at around 7% to 8%. This protein content affects the elasticity and the texture of finished baked goods. 

The bleaching process also makes it a little more acidic, so it is a good choice for recipes that have a high sugar to flour ratio. It is the most ideal choice for delicate baked goods like chiffon cakes or sponge cakes.  

Cake flour also contains a high starch content which provides a brighter look to the cake, which can look white. It contains a lesser quantity of gluten which gives the texture a more tough and dense look. 

The goods made with cake flour mostly do not tend to collapse after rising, especially if the recipe has a high sugar to flour ratio. It also absorbs a decent amount of liquid if compared with other types of flours. 

The most common substitute for cake flour is a mixture of all-purpose flour and corn starch in the right ratio. It is also sold in a boxed form which is usually found at grocery stores. 

What is Pastry Flour? 

Pastry flour comes from the same soft quality wheat that is used for cake flour, but it has a more defined texture to it. It doesn’t go through the process of bleaching, which means that it has a higher protein content of around 8% to 9.5%, which makes it ideal for recipes like pie crusts, biscuits, etc. 

It does have a lower protein content if compared with all-purpose flour or other flour. Flours with a higher percentage of protein give their products a toucher and denser finished feel, so pastry flour is also ideal for lighter baked goods.

Pastry flour also tends to have a high gluten content which makes it more elastic than cake flour. This flour helps your finished food be more structurally sound. This means that it is ideal for airy and flaky recipes like puff pastry, croissants, etc., where there are layers in the crust. 

It also has lesser starch content when compared to cake flour. It tends to absorb a lesser amount of liquids than cake flours. It gives the finished baked goods a lighter and airier texture. It is also ideal for things like muffins, pancakes muffins, pound cakes, brownies, etc. 

The most common substitute for pastry flour is a mix of all-purpose flour and cake flour, although it may not be the most reliable.  

Main Differences Between Cake Flour and Pastry Flour 

  1. The difference between cake flour and pastry flour is that cake flour is used to make recipes with a high sugar-flour ratio and delicate cakes like angel food cake, chiffon cake, etc. Pastry flour is ideally used in recipes to make pastries, cakes, pie crusts, cookies, muffins, etc. 
  2. Cake flour is bleached, and chlorine, whereas pastry flour, is not. 
  3. Another difference between them is that cake flour contains 7% to 8.5% of proteins. This is because the bleaching process results in the protein being weakened, which creates a more delicate and airy flour. On the other hand, pastry flour contains 8.5% to 9.5% protein. 
  4. Cake flour has a high starch content, and pastry flour has less starch content. 
  5. Cake flour tends to absorb more liquid, and pastry flour absorbs less liquid in comparison. 
  6. Cake flour has a very soft texture which makes it best for baking delicate and soft goods, whereas pastry flour has a more defined and a little tougher texture when compared to cake flour. 

Conclusion 

Both cake flour and pastry flour are important when it comes to baking and can be similar since both are made from soft quality wheat, but their fundamental properties differentiate them. Both of them achieve a different feel and texture with their final baked goods. Pastry flour has a lower starch content but a higher gluten content which gives the finished product more elasticity. 

Cake flour is most ideal for ultra-light and delicate baked goods like chiffon cake, angel food cake, sponge cake, etc. On the other hand, pastry flour is ideal for making pie crusts, biscuits, pastries, muffins, etc.  

You should choose the most suitable flour according to the recipe you are making and what texture and feel you want the finished to have. 

References 

  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408397809527245 
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S073352100500072X 
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