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Want Lighter, More Tender Pastries? Switch Up Your Flour

All-purpose flour might be your go-to recipe, but as you start baking more complex recipes, you’ll need to expand your flour horizons. Pastry flour is a great place to start!

What is Pastry Flour and How to Use It

What is pastry flour?

Pastry flour is a low-protein flour that’s designed to produce lighter, more tender pastries and baked goods than all-purpose flour.

All-purpose flour typically has a protein content around 11 percent. In contrast, cake flour’s protein content is around 7-8 percent. Pastry flour falls in the middle with a protein content around 9 percent.

Plain pastry flour is usually easiest to find, but whole wheat pastry flour is also available. While pastry flour falls in between all-purpose and cake flours, whole wheat pastry flour falls in between regular whole wheat and all-purpose flour, delivering whole grains with a softer texture in the finished baked goods. 

What is Pastry Flour and How to Use It

How to use pastry flour

Pasty flour is a great choice for many baked goods, including cakes, cookies and muffins — just to name a few. The lower protein content of pastry flour strikes just the right balance of providing good structure (so your goodies don’t fall apart) and tenderness. It will consistently produce a lighter and more tender finished product than all-purpose flour, but with a little more strength than cake flour. 

However, cake flour can be a better choice for cakes with an extremely light texture (such as angel food cake) or a melt-in-your-mouth crumb (like pound cake). Cake flour may be a better choice in those recipes, but pastry flour is an excellent option for most non-bread baked goods. 

Pastry flour is usually not a good choice for bread recipes, which typically benefit from the elasticity of a higher protein flour, such as bread flour.

What is Pastry Flour and How to Use It

How to substitute pastry flour

Using pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour

You can typically replace all-purpose flour with pastry flour with a 1:1 ratio. That means you can exchange it for all-purpose flour the next time you bake up a batch of delicious muffins, cookies or cake to see how the results compare to the original recipe.

Using all-purpose flour instead of pastry flour

If your recipe calls for pastry flour but you don’t have any, don’t worry. You can make a substitute by whisking together 1 cup of all-purpose flour  minus 2 tablespoons (or 14 tablespoons of all-purpose flour) with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. This mixture will have a lower protein content than straight all-purpose flour, producing more tender baked goods that are very similar to what pastry flour itself would produce. 

Using cake flour instead of pastry flour

If you don’t have any pastry flour but you happen to have cake flour, you can substitute for pastry flour by adding an extra 2 tablespoons of cake flour to your recipe.

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K. Hale

Wonderful article. Informative and useful immediately, as I was getting ready to Bake.
Thank You!

James Peters

I learned to bake in a family bakery in the 60s. Many of the handcraft bakers were trained back in the 20s and 30s. We used pastry flour exclusively for pie dough, short doughs and some cookies. It is also great for pancakes and waffles.


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