| A Heaping Scoop |

A Heaping Scoop: Rules for Subbing Flour

FT, Help Me!!

What are the rules for subbing and swapping different types of flour in baking — white wheat, whole wheat, 80% whole wheat... Is the ratio 1:1 or slightly different (specifically when using 80% instead of white in a baking recipe)?


I don’t think I can do this topic justice in this forum, but I’ll do my best! Here are a few thoughts for starters.

When using 80% whole wheat, it can be subbed 1:1 for white flour, and generally white whole wheat can also be subbed 1:1. If you’re using 100% whole wheat in a yeast dough, for every cup of whole wheat flour subbed, increase the liquid by 2 teaspoons. Also, once you’ve mixed the dough but before kneading, let it rest for 30 minutes. This gives the flour the time it needs to absorb the liquid fully, yielding a softer dough, which should rise as high as one made with white flour.

In bread and rolls (without added flavors), the whole wheat flavor can be quite strong. If your family doesn’t love the taste of whole wheat, make sure your flour is as fresh as possible. Older flour can become bitter and lose its delicious nutty flavor. I store all flour in the freezer to avoid this.

When subbing whole wheat flour in cakes, it’s recommended to add a little more liquid because it absorbs more due to its high protein percentage and its bran. In dark-colored cakes like chocolate cake, you can’t tell the difference in appearance or taste at all. Go for it!

Here are a few more useful flour substitutions:

To make your own self-rising flour: For each cup of flour, add 112 teaspoons baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt. Whisk together well to be sure it’s evenly distributed throughout.

For high-gluten flour, you can sub bread flour or even pastry flour. Pastry flour has a fine texture and soft form. Although it has a low protein percentage, it’s good enough to give structure to bread and cakes, and it adds a light and airy texture. You can even use cake flour.

As a sub for pastry flour, combine 12 cup all-purpose flour with 12 cup cake flour for each cup of pastry flour. Alternatively, put 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in a measuring cup and add all-purpose flour to the 1-cup mark.

And finally, here’s a really good hint for measuring any flour: First fluff up the flour in your container using a flour scoop. Then gently pour the flour, using a scoop, into the measuring cup. Level off the excess with a knife. Don’t bang your cup on the counter!

—Brynie Greisman

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(Originally featured in Family Table, Issue 827)

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