For those of you that prefer a soft-baked cookie that is fluffy in the middle, using cake flour instead of regular all-purpose (AP) flour is your secret baking weapon. "But I don't have cake flour," you protest. Fear not: if your kitchen is sans cake flour, you can easily whip some up by mixing together AP flour and a little bit of cornstarch for the same results.
"It's magic," you murmur in wonder. Yes, yes it is—and to understand the alchemy behind this miraculous method, read on.
The main difference between these two flours is the protein content, which will eventually turn into gluten. AP flour has a higher level of protein at 10-11%, compared to cake flour that has only 8 percent.
When trying to achieve a cake-like texture in your cookies, the less gluten the better for a fluffier consistency. According to Fine Cooking, because of the chemical structure of gluten (and proteins in general), "Excess gluten makes biscuits leaden, pancakes rubbery, and piecrusts tough." And yes, it also makes cookies chewier and less pillowy.
This information may seem a bit overwhelming and science-y, but I promise you actually putting it to good use is quite simple. To make one cup of homemade cake flour, here's what you need to do:
Measure out 1 cup of AP flour, remove 2 Tbsp. of the flour, then replace them with 2 Tbsp. of cornstarch. The trick to making sure the two powders are completely blended is to sift them together after combining them. This is key to achieving that oh-so-soft cookie you've been craving.
This is adapted from Pinch of Yum's recipe for soft chocolate chip cookies. By substituting cake flour for all of the AP flour, you will end up with the softest, fluffiest chocolate chip cookies ever.
- 8 Tbsp. salted butter
- ½ c. white sugar
- ¼ c. light brown sugar (packed)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 egg
- 1½ c. + 3 Tbsp. cake flour *
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¾ c. chocolate chips
* The original recipe called for 1½ cups of AP flour. When substituting cake flour for AP flour, it is suggested that you add an extra Tbsp. of cake flour for every ½ cup of cake flour for which you are substituting.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- While the oven preheats, melt the butter in the microwave for around 30 seconds at 50% power; it should be barely melted and not too hot.
- Beat the butter with the sugars until they are creamy.
- Add the vanilla and egg and beat together for 3 to 4 minutes to make sure everything is mixed well.
- Add the cake flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix until the dough begins to crumble.
- Add the chocolate chips to the dough and mix thoroughly to make sure they are evenly distributed throughout.
- Roll the dough into 9 separate balls of dough for larger cookies, or 12 balls of dough for smaller cookies. Place them on a parchment-lined baking tray.
- Bake them for 9 minutes or until the cookies puff up. They may look under-baked, but it is important not to over-bake them since this is the key to keeping them nice and soft.
- Let the cookies cool in the pan for a good half an hour... fine, go on and help yourself to one now— you deserve it!
The cake flour cookie (pictured on the right) was definitely a lot fluffier in texture than its AP flour counterpart (on the left).
It felt like a hybrid between a cake and cookie, since the denseness created by traditional cookie dough was absent. And though the cake flour cookie had a lighter consistency, it did not skimp on the classic buttery, chocolate chip cookie flavor.
These fluffy, chocolate-chippy morsels are easy to make and can be whipped up in no time whenever a craving hits. Their secret is easy to master—just use cake flour, store-bought or homemade.
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