When Should You Use Pastry Flour (And How Does It Differ From Other Flours)

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With so many options, I keep a variety of flours on hand in my kitchen. Unbleached all-purpose white, whole wheat, cake flour, and even gluten-free flour are all options. Then there’s the pastry flour.

But what exactly is pastry flour? And when should you grab for it instead of one of the other flours?

Pastry flour has a finer texture than other flours and is in the middle of the protein content scale. All-purpose flour has around 11% protein, cake flour contains 7 to 8% protein, and pastry flour contains 9% protein.

Bakers use pastry flour to make soft and light baked goods due to its reduced protein content.

But how can you determine when it’s OK to use pastry flour? Is it safe to use in all baking or just in certain recipes?
Everything you need to know about baking using pastry flour is right here.

Types of Flour

Before you begin baking using pastry flour, here’s a brief primer on the various kinds of flour:

All-Purpose Flour

When a recipe asks for flour, it is almost always for all-purpose flour. This flour is the most versatile of all flours, milled from a combination of hard and soft wheat and used in many types of baking, including pies, cookies, cakes, and savory baking.

Cake Flour

Cake flour has the least protein of any flour, making it almost gluten-free. To further weaken the gluten protein, cake flour is generally bleached, which also affects the starch in the flour, allowing it to absorb more moisture.

Cake flour is often used by pastry chefs to make lighter pastries.

Bread Flour         

Bread flour has a high protein content, making it a suitable option for yeasted breads that need a lot of gluten to rise before baking.

Self-Rising Flour

Salt and baking powder are added to self-rising flour during the milling process.
It’s a frequent ingredient in bakeries that make a lot of muffins, biscuits, and pancakes.

Whole Wheat Flour

Whole wheat flour contains some bran and germ after it has been milled. Because of these two elements, whole wheat flour has a high gluten-forming capacity, which is why it is used to produce thick and heavy breads and baked items.

Pastry Flour

Pastry flour strikes a nice balance between all of the flours, resulting in flaky and soft baked goods.

What Does Protein Have to Do With Flour?

The quantity of gluten in a flour is determined by the amount of protein in the wheat. The more protein a flour has, the more gluten it contains. And more gluten means the dough will be denser and thicker than all-purpose flour dough.

The gluten in the wheat binds together as you combine and work with dough, making it tighter and denser. This is why overworked dough yields chewy and rough baked items.

Pastry flour has less gluten, allowing you to produce lighter baked products and pastries.

Flour with a greater protein content is ideal for yeast-risen baked items and crusty breads. A reduced protein proportion is ideal for lighter baking such as biscuits, cakes, cookies, and pastries.

Substituting for Pastry Flour

If a recipe asks for pastry flour and you don’t have any on hand, you may manufacture your own, as I often do.

Combine 14 tablespoons all-purpose flour and 2 teaspoons cornstarch. You may use it in any recipe that calls for pastry flour and get the same results.

A cup of cake flour and a cup of all-purpose flour are two different flour combinations that may be used in place of pastry flour.
This ratio will give you precisely the proper quantity of protein in the flour. A combination of 7% cake flour and 11% all-purpose flour will offer baking results comparable to those obtained with pastry flour.

Is Whole Wheat Pastry Flour Different?

When I want to add a few extra nutrients to my baking, I often use whole wheat pastry flour. Whole wheat pastry flour, made from the full wheat kernel, offers more nutrients and is less processed than bleached and enhanced white pastry flour, giving depth to pastries.

Whole wheat pastry flour has a better nutritional value owing to its increased fiber content and the inclusion of supplements such as folic acid, iron, niacin, and riboflavin.

Whole wheat pastry flour, like white enhanced pastry flour, has a low protein content, therefore you may use either one interchangeably.

Potential Uses for Pastry Flour

Fluffy Muffins

Muffins are an excellent breakfast option as well as a snack at any time of day. Muffins are often simple to prepare. They’re also quite versatile, since they may be sweet, savory, or healthful.

I use pastry flour when I want some of my muffins to be light and fluffy. This manner, I can maintain the lightness even while baking a thicker nutritious breakfast muffin, like Banana Nut Oat Muffins.

They have a fluffy, delicate texture that no one can resist because of the pastry flour.

Soft, Pillowy Cookies

Cookie recipes often call for all-purpose flour, which produces a heavier, flatter cookie. But what if you want a cookie that melts in your tongue and is soft and fluffy in the middle? I use pastry flour for this.

My standard chocolate chip cookie recipe yields lovely, crisp cookies with a little crunch. I sometimes alter my recipe and use pastry flour, which results in a delicate and supple cookie.

You may use equal parts pastry flour and all-purpose flour.

Tender Tarts

I also use pastry flour while making a buttery, delicate tart. Using pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour gives the tart a distinct texture, making it light and soft with a rich butter flavor. Pastry flour also produces a crust that is less chewy and tough.

Don’t restrict pastry flour to simply sweet tarts. When you replace part or all of the all-purpose flour with pastry flour, you may make a savory pie that is normally thick and heavy taste considerably lighter.

Keep in mind that since softer dough takes longer to cool, you may need to chill it for a few extra minutes.

Moist, Delicious Cakes

The modest cake may be the baked product that benefits the most from pastry flour. Everyone constantly asks for my vanilla cake recipe once they’ve tried it.

Soft, cloud-like, and bursting with flavorWhat is my recipe’s secret ingredient? It’s, you guessed it, pastry flour.

With less protein and gluten, pastry flour allows cakes to rise properly while remaining soft but not crumbly.

Try using pastry flour the next time you bake your favorite cake; you’ll be astonished at how this flour adds a fresh twist to a cake you’ve been making for years.

Scones and Biscuits

Scones and biscuits are two more baked goods that benefit from the use of pastry flour. In reality, the greatest buttery scones need pastry flour, and I never bake these goodies with all-purpose flour.

Why would you use pastry flour in scones and biscuits? The flour’s low protein and gluten content is great for generating a light dough, resulting in a fluffy but not crumbly biscuit or scone.

Baking with pastry flour is simple; don’t be scared to use it in your favorite baking recipes and to experiment with new ones.

I guarantee you’ll be happy with the baked goods you remove from the oven, as will your family and friends.


What happens if I use pastry flour instead of all-purpose?

Pastry flour is a softer flour that may be used in place of all-purpose flour in recipes that call for softness, such as muffins, quick breads, and cakes. If you can locate it, whole-wheat pastry flour is a preferable substitute for all-purpose flour.

What is pastry flour best used for?

Pastry flour is a low-protein flour that is used to manufacture pastries that are lighter and more delicate than all-purpose flour. It produces soft pastries, chewy cookies, and is a wonderful pie crust substitute.

What is the primary difference between pastry flour and bread flour?

Cake flour is used in the baking of cakes. Cake flour, on the opposite end of the range from bread flour, contains less protein than all-purpose flour. Cake is designed to be fluffy and soft, but bread is supposed to be chewy and hence high in gluten.

Does pastry flour have less gluten than other flours?

Pastry flour is finely ground flour that has a low protein concentration (about 8%). Pastry flour has less gluten and is suitable for baked foods with a chewy, flaky, or crumbly texture, such as pie crust, croissants, scones, tarts, or quick breads.

Does pastry flour measure the same as all-purpose flour?

Because of this difference, you should use a little more cake flour to produce an exact alternative for all-purpose flour. To match the amount in 1 cup of all-purpose flour, add an additional 2 tablespoons per cup of cake flour.

Can I substitute pastry flour for all-purpose flour in pie crust?

Yes, pastry flour may be used to produce delicate, flaky pie crust. However, it may be difficult, especially for those who are unsure of their pie crust talents. Pastry flour pie crust is more difficult to roll without breaking and might tear apart at the seams when baking.

Can I substitute cake and pastry flour for all-purpose flour?

In most baking recipes, cake flour or pastry flour may be used in place of all-purpose flour. Avoid cake flour for chewy bread making and instead use bread or whole-wheat flour for your no-knead and sourdough loaves.

Does King Arthur flour make pastry flour?

Our Pastry Flour has 8% protein, which is two percentage points lower than our Unbleached Cake Flour, making it suitable for delicate pastries like pie crusts and scones.

Is pastry flour stronger than cake flour?

While these two flours are not the same, they are both fine-textured soft flours with a low protein content–pastry flour has around 9 percent protein, while cake flour has about 7 to 8 percent protein.

What flour should I use for cinnamon rolls?

Use bread flour: Bread flour is widely accessible at grocery shops and makes a HUGE difference in producing softer, fluffier cinnamon buns. JUST HAVE FAITH IN ME. Flour the work area and the rolling pin to prevent the cinnamon rolls from sticking to the surface or the rolling pin.

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