Following the success of my microwaved flour as a substitute for cake flour, I was prompted by comments from fellow bloggers into thinking further about cornflour mixes. As ellaella suggested, a common method for making cake flour at home is to remove 2 tablespoons of bleached, plain (all purpose) flour per cup and to replace these with 2 tablespoons of cornflour (cornstarch). Would this still work if the plain flour was unbleached, however? And how would cakes made with a mix of plain flour and cornflour compare with cakes baked from microwaved flour?
At about 5 o’clock this morning, I was struck by a further question. What would happen if I microwaved some flour first and then replaced 2 tablespoons per cup with 2 tablespoons of cornflour? Would the microwaving be enough to compensate for the lack of bleaching?
Well, there was only one way to find out. Back to the kitchen I went.
It just so happens that yesterday I made Rose’s Favorite Yellow Layer Cake using microwaved pasta flour in place of cake flour. It turned out beautifully. Could I really improve on this?
I decided to bake two more of these butter cakes today. For the first, I microwaved 7 oz + a couple of spoonfuls of Doves Farm Organic speciality pasta flour for a total of 3 minutes on high (I have an ancient set of shop scales standing in my kitchen, so I tend to think and work in Imperial measurements). At this point, the whole experiment very nearly ended in disaster. I suddenly thought it would be easier to make up the cornflour mix if I had more microwaved flour on hand … so I popped a few more spoonfuls on a plate of their own into the microwave … and proceeded to burn the flour and melt a large hole in the bottom of the plastic plate. I guess microwaving such small amounts of flour isn’t such a good idea – be warned!
Luckily, my kitchen was still relatively unburnt (despite the smell) andI had just sufficient microwaved flour to be able to prepare a cornflour mix nevertheless. I then used 7 oz of this microwaved-cornflour-mixed flour (which seemed a bit of a mouthful, so I was coming to regard this as ‘kate flour’ instead) to make my first cake.
The flour mix for the second cake was more straightforward. I simply weighed the pasta flour straight from the bag and replaced 2 tablespoons per cup (spooned, 4.25 oz) with 2 tablespoons of cornflour.
What happened? Well, just when things were looking good, they suddenly started looking even better! The cake made with ‘kate flour’ rose beautifully and behaved exactly as Rose said it would in The Cake Bible. The cake made with pasta flour+cornflour didn’t rise quite so high and then retired to below the rim on cooling.
Inside, the ‘kate-flour’ cake (behind, on the right) had a finer texture and was lighter than either the pasta flour+cornflour (front) or all-microwaved-flour (behind, on the left) cakes.
More importantly, the ‘kate-flour’ cake definitely got my vote for taste. The pasta flour+cornflour cake was simply stodgy and … well … floury. The ‘kate-flour’ cake, on the other hand, was moister than the all-microwaved-flour cake and had even more of a melting, soft feel in the mouth. Each bite brought a delicate flavour of vanilla and left behind a subtle, lingering tang.
Perhaps with these new results, I might feel brave enough one day to use my ‘kate flour’ to bake another Golden Luxury Butter Cake … but that will be a story for another day.