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Cake Flour vs. Self-Raising Flour: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 27, 2024
Cake flour is a finely milled, low-protein flour for tender baked goods, while self-raising flour is all-purpose flour with added leavening agents for rise.

Key Differences

Cake flour is known for its fine texture and lower protein content, typically around 7-8%, which results in a softer, more delicate crumb in baked goods. Self-raising flour, however, is essentially all-purpose flour that includes baking powder and, sometimes, salt, making it a convenient choice for recipes requiring a rise without additional leavening agents.
The low protein content in cake flour means less gluten formation, ideal for light and airy cakes and fine-textured baked products. In contrast, self-raising flour's added leavening agents provide an automatic rise, making it suitable for quick breads, biscuits, and certain cakes where a more robust structure is desired.
Cake flour is often preferred for intricate confections like sponge cakes, where a delicate texture is paramount. Self-raising flour is more versatile, used in a variety of recipes where convenience and consistent leavening are key factors.
Cake flour requires careful measurement of leavening agents for desired results, while self-raising flour simplifies the baking process by eliminating the need for separate baking powder and salt, except for specific flavor or texture modifications.
Cake flour's specialized use in delicate baked goods contrasts with self-raising flour’s broader application in everyday baking, where its convenience and predictable results are highly valued.

Comparison Chart

Protein Content

Low (7-8%)
Similar to all-purpose flour


Finely milled for tender texture
Standard texture, varies with added agents

Primary Use

Delicate cakes and fine pastries
Quick breads, biscuits, some cakes

Leavening Agents Required

Requires separate leavening agents
Already contains baking powder and salt

Ideal For

Light, airy baked goods with soft crumb
Convenient, consistent rise in baking

Cake Flour and Self-Raising Flour Definitions

Cake Flour

Cake flour is a low-protein flour ideal for soft and delicate baked goods.
The chef used cake flour to ensure the cupcakes were light and fluffy.

Self-Raising Flour

Self-raising flour simplifies recipes by including necessary rising agents.
To save time on measuring, she opted for self-raising flour in her muffin recipe.

Cake Flour

Cake flour is specifically designed for baking high-quality cakes.
Professional bakers often prefer cake flour for its consistency in cake baking.

Self-Raising Flour

Self-raising flour is versatile for various baked goods requiring a rise.
Self-raising flour is great for making pancakes, as it gives them a nice lift.

Cake Flour

Cake flour has less gluten, making it perfect for tender baked items.
Cake flour was her choice for the delicate pastry because of its low gluten content.

Self-Raising Flour

Self-raising flour combines flour, baking powder, and salt for convenience.
For a quick cake, self-raising flour is a convenient choice as it already contains leavening.

Cake Flour

Cake flour is used for soft confections like chiffon and angel food cakes.
Angel food cake requires cake flour to achieve its signature soft texture.

Self-Raising Flour

Self-raising flour is ideal for quick breads and simple cakes.
Banana bread turns out perfectly every time with self-raising flour.

Cake Flour

Cake flour's fine texture contributes to a finer crumb in cakes and pastries.
For her sponge cake, she always chooses cake flour for its fine texture.

Self-Raising Flour

Self-raising flour is all-purpose flour with added leavening agents for baking.
She used self-raising flour to make quick and easy biscuits without extra baking powder.


Can cake flour be used for bread?

Not ideally, as its low protein content doesn't suit bread's structure.

What is self-raising flour?

Flour that includes baking powder and salt, suitable for quick baking recipes.

Why use cake flour in baking?

For finer, softer textures in cakes and delicate pastries.

Can I substitute cake flour for all-purpose flour?

Yes, but adjustments may be needed for the reduced protein content.

How does cake flour affect cake texture?

It results in a lighter, more tender crumb due to less gluten.

What is cake flour?

A fine, low-protein flour used for making soft and tender cakes.

Does self-raising flour contain salt?

Yes, most self-raising flour blends include a small amount of salt.

What makes cake flour different from regular flour?

Its lower protein content and finer texture.

Can I make my own self-raising flour?

Yes, by adding baking powder and salt to all-purpose flour.

Is self-raising flour suitable for cookies?

Yes, for cookies that require a leavening agent.

How much baking powder is in self-raising flour?

Typically about 1.5 teaspoons per cup of flour.

How to store cake flour for freshness?

In an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Is cake flour good for diabetics?

It's similar to other flours and should be used in moderation.

What's the protein content in cake flour?

About 7-8%, which is lower than in all-purpose flour.

What's the shelf life of self-raising flour?

About 6 months to a year, as the leavening agents can lose potency.

Can self-raising flour be used for frying?

It's not recommended due to the baking powder content.

Can cake flour be used for pie crusts?

Yes, for a tender and delicate crust.

Is self-raising flour the same as bread flour?

No, bread flour has higher protein content and no added leavening agents.

Can I use self-raising flour for pizza dough?

Not recommended, as the leavening may affect the texture.

Does self-raising flour rise better than plain flour?

Yes, due to the added leavening agents.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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