Is There Organic Cake Flour?

Baking By msbelle21 Updated 16 Mar 2017 , 11:13pm by -K8memphis

msbelle21 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
msbelle21 Posted 19 Jan 2017 , 3:55am
post #1 of 20

I'm a scratch baker who makes all of my cakes with cake flour. I've been playing with my recipes and want to convert them to organic, but I'm yet to find organic cake flour.

The cake flour brand I normally use is Softasilk, which has a protein content of 6.9%. I've seen some organic pastry flours, but many are whole wheat, have higher protein contents, and don't seem suitable for what I'm trying to achieve really.

While doing a Google search, I came across a blog that mentioned that there's an organic unbleached cake flour by Bob's Red Mill, but I see no mention of it on their website.

The only quality flour I've found through all my researching is Giusto's unbleached high ratio cake flour at 7.0-8.0%. Although it's not certified organic, their website does say that they use natural and organic ingredients and their products don't contain any chemicals or preservatives. This is my plan B if I'm unable to find what I'm looking for, unfortunately, as although there are organic AP flours, I don't like how dense AP makes my cakes and the kind of crumb it produces.

Is there such a thing or am I on a wild goose chase? Is anyone baking with organic cake flour in the US?

19 replies
OHaresTstyTrts Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
OHaresTstyTrts Posted 19 Jan 2017 , 5:56am
post #2 of 20

I have seen a couple different brands of organic cake flours. I saw one at whole foods and an organic cake flour came up in my search recently but I didn't read the labels. I was just searching to see if it was possible. I was actually going to look into this myself as I am adding organic as an option this year. I would be interested to see what other people have found.

Siftandwisk2 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Siftandwisk2 Posted 19 Jan 2017 , 3:16pm
post #3 of 20

Perhaps understanding a couple of things about cake flour and organic may help you make a more informed decision on flour selection.

Organic: the biggest misconception is organic farming doesn't use pesticides.  The difference between conventional and organic farming is actually synthetic pesticides vs natural pesticides.  In pest management, government Level C allows for use of natural pesticides in organic farming.  The government has what's known as the National List which details all the chemicals allowed in organic farming.  

My niece is involved in organic farming, including public education.  She's a graduate of UC Berkeley.  She told me there's a couple of hundred difference chemicals and pesticides allowed in organic farming.

That is reflected in a 2014 USDA report in which the government tested for pesticide residue on organic produce.  They found 40 different types of pesticide residue on organic; and they found no difference in the amount of pesticide residue on organic vs conventional farmed produce.  

A UC Berkeley report states half of the natural pesticides are carcinogenic.  In addition, natural pesticides are more harmful to the environment because they require substantially more applications to work.

This is not to say organic is bad, rather to provide information to better inform you as to what you are actually purchasing vs an assumption of what you think you are purchasing when you buy organic.

Cake flour: cake flour is milled from soft wheat, which has a lower protein content.  While protein content is a factor in cake texture, chlorination is really the defining factor in cake texture.  Bleached cake flour inhibits starch gelatination, alters protein denaturation, lower ph levels, and inhibits moisture absorption.  The result is a batter that doesn't set too quickly, so batter rises more; it develops a softer crumb, with a lighter colored crust. 

Guisto makes quality flours.  Their cake flour is unbleached, so it will not perform the same as bleached cake flour.  I live in the Northern California; Guisto is a well regarded flour source here.

Couple of final thought... "Natural" is meaningless.  There's no recognition or definition of "natural" in the food industry.  It's a making ploy.  Arsenic is a naturally occurring element, so don't be misled by the  word "natural" 

Homemade cake flour: you cannot make cake flour by mixing flour with cornstarch.  Cornstarch neither reduces protein content in wheat flour nor alters gelatination, protein denaturation, of change ph in flour.  Worse, cornstarch's high moisture retention interferes with rise, and imparts a gummy texture.

vlasko Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
msbelle21 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
msbelle21 Posted 23 Jan 2017 , 8:33pm
post #5 of 20

@vlasko ‍ THANKS SO MUCH! I'll have to try that out.

@OHaresTstyTrts ‍ I had the exact same thing in mind in terms of options. I'll have to check my nearest Whole Foods. Thanks for that.

@Siftandwisk2 ‍ Thank you for the detailed information. My biggest fear is not being able to find an organic cake flour that can give the same properties to my cake as Softasilk's bleached flour has been doing for me. I'm from California, born and raised, but didn't hear about Giusto till I moved to Florida last year. Go figure. I'll have to find their high ratio cake flour next time I visit. Thank you again. :)

Paola__ Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Paola__ Posted 26 Jan 2017 , 4:38am
post #6 of 20

King Arthur has organic cake flour I think...

msbelle21 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
msbelle21 Posted 27 Jan 2017 , 6:36pm
post #7 of 20

I haven't seen any and there's no mention of it on their website. I ended up ordering a 1.5lb bag from Oregon Organic Mill. It was milled and shipped the same day! I'm excited to see how it'll compare to what I'm used to. :)

Paola__ Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Paola__ Posted 28 Jan 2017 , 12:00am
post #8 of 20

I emailed them and they said ALL their flours  are non-gmo. The ones that are labeled organic are certified organic. All the flours not labeled organic are non-gmo.

Quote by @msbelle21 on 5 hours ago

I haven't seen any and there's no mention of it on their website. I ended up ordering a 1.5lb bag from Oregon Organic Mill. It was milled and shipped the same day! I'm excited to see how it'll compare to what I'm used to. :)

Siftandwisk2 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Siftandwisk2 Posted 29 Jan 2017 , 4:41am
post #9 of 20


you would let us know how the flour performed?  They don't state whether it's bleached or not.  Would you let us know if it's unbleached?  I prefer unbleached, organic flours. For cake, I currently blend Central Milling Organic Pastry flour with their All Purpose Organic Beehive flour. Central Milling is partnered with Keith and Nicky Guisto, of the Guisto flour family.

 Guisto family doesn't own Guisto flour any more.  But baking and milling runs in their blood, so Keith and Nicky went into business together.  Nicky is an internationally known bread baker. Through Central Milling they supply the who's who of American bakeries.  But the focus is on bread, pizza, and pasta flours.  Keith's sister, Pamala, is the owner of Pamala's Products Gluten Free. 

Quote by @msbelle21 on 1 day ago

I haven't seen any and there's no mention of it on their website. I ended up ordering a 1.5lb bag from Oregon Organic Mill. It was milled and shipped the same day! I'm excited to see how it'll compare to what I'm used to. :)

-K8memphis Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
-K8memphis Posted 30 Jan 2017 , 9:52am
post #10 of 20

great thread -- lotsa great info -- thank you, siftandwisk2 and all

msbelle21 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
msbelle21 Posted 30 Jan 2017 , 5:36pm
post #11 of 20
Greetings K8!
Thanks for that Paola! Good to know!
@Siftandwisk2 ‍I'll be sure to post updates about the flour, of course. How does your custom cake blend work? I was hoping to try some of Giusto's products, but I only want a $6 bag for sampling and couldn't justify their $20 shipping lol.
I'm assuming it's unbleached. It was milled and shipped in one day, and bleaching wouldn't allow them to certify it organic... again, I'm assuming.
Siftandwisk2 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Siftandwisk2 Posted 30 Jan 2017 , 8:45pm
post #12 of 20


i look forward to hearing about your results with the organic cake flour.  I'm always on the lookout for better ingredients.

Regarding your question about my blend of flours....

Just to clarify, I use Central Milling brand flour. Central Milling flour is produced and distributed in partnership with members of the Giusto family.  The Keith Giusto Bakery Suppy business in Petaluma, CA is a partner of Central Milling, and only distributes Central Milling flours.  Well, they distribute the gluten free line of Pamela's Products since Pamela is Keith's sister.

The Giusto Vita-Grain flour brand in South San Francisco is NO LONGER owned by the Giusto family.  The Giusto Vita-Grain is a quality flour--but it's not grown and milled to the exacting specifications of Central Milling flours.  

My blending of Central Milling organic pastry flour and AP Beehive flour produces a lovely cake: uniform, fine crumb; nice rise, even light browning.  I think it begins with excellent wheat varieties and expert farming.  Milling alone can't produce a quality flour.  But poor milling can destroy quality wheat.

Yesterday I baked cakes for my baking club.  Club members are a mix of amateurs and professional chefs and pastry chefs.  I baked two types of Bundt cakes: lemon and honey cara-cara orange.  I only used Central Milling AP Beehive flour since I like a sturdier crumb for Bundt cake.  Quite a few people approached me to ask if I baked the cakes, commenting on the flavor and quality.  The two professional pastry chefs separately complimented the cakes.  One asked about flour and was surprised to learn I just used AP flour.  Knowing Central Milling flours can pass muster with professional chefs is reassuring.

If you look at Central Milling's website, you'll notice a couple of things about flour specifications.

Malted flour: Some of their flours like the Beehive flour is malted. There's two types of malt: diastatic and non-diastatic.  

Diastatic barley malt is flavorless, contains an active enzyme that helps convert starch to sugar. This aides moisture retention for a softer crumb.  Retail brands like King Arthur also malt their flours.

Non-diastatic malt does not have the enzyme.  Its used mainly for flavor.  Artisan bread and pizza is commonly produced with non-diastatic malted flour, both commercially and in home baking.

Extraction rate: some of the flowers are designated with a number (e.g., Organic Type 70 Pastry). The 70 indicates the extraction rate.  Extraction rate tells you the amount of bran, germ, and outer endosperm removed during milling.  The higher the extraction rate number, the more of the bran, germ, outer endosperm left in the flour.  

The higher bran, germ, and outer endosperm type flours contain more nutrients.  But they produce a sturdier and more rustic crust.  

While I stock both the organic pastry flour and the organic type 70 pastry flour, I only use the type 70 for things like free form tarts.  

Ash content:  ash is the measure of mineral in the flour.  The higher the ash content, the more it influences the finished product.  Bread and pizza bakers prefer a higher ash as it enhances dough strength, color development during baking.  It also enhances fermentation.  Ash content is effected by extraction.  Higher extraction flours will have higher ash.

Their organic pastry flour ash is .52; Type 70 pastry flour is .70; their whole wheat flour is whopping 1.5.

msbelle21 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
msbelle21 Posted 13 Feb 2017 , 3:06pm
post #13 of 20

^^ I don't know how your missed this post, Sift. You have such a plethora of information on the topic. I'll be saving that. Thanks so much. Is There Organic Cake Flour?

The flour from Oregon Organic Mill arrived in the mail a week ago, but I didn't have time to bake until the weekend.

Is There Organic Cake Flour?Is There Organic Cake Flour?

Fromscratchsf's base recipe is my staple, so I tried it on that. Hindsight is always 20/20. Using that recipe may not have been the best idea as it's quite specific. It wasn't until afterwards that I remembered she said unbleached flour doesn't work with her recipe, so I don't know why I was hoping for a miracle.

The flour wasn't as fine as the high ratio flour I've been using. What I'm assuming is cracked wheat was present in the flour. It was my first time using this flour, so I sifted then put the wheat back into the bowl. Maybe sifting that out and replacing the missing weight with more sifted cake flour may have helped? To be tested at a later time.

Is There Organic Cake Flour?

I tasted the batter before popping the pans in the oven. With my usual cake flour, the batter is sweet and vanilla-tasting. This time it had a nutty taste.

Is There Organic Cake Flour?

It finished baking in the same amount of time. I froze them as usual. I thawed one of the layers yesterday and ate some after dinner. It tasted like a sweet, delicious............................... CORNBREAD! It may win a cornbread taste contest lol. Even the texture was like cornbread. My boyfriend put vanilla pudding on his and devoured it. Tasty? Yes, but definitely not what I was trying to achieve! For those of you unfamiliar with fromscratchsf's cake, it rises beautifully and is absolutely delicious. I should've taken pictures of the last normal batch I made for comparison's sake. The cake from this weekend barely rose an inch, had a denser texture, and was almost yellow in color.

Is There Organic Cake Flour?Is There Organic Cake Flour?

I'll try the flour in different applications. I can rule it out for the base recipe I use unfortunately.

*sorry the photos are so big* Is There Organic Cake Flour?

Siftandwisk2 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Siftandwisk2 Posted 14 Feb 2017 , 12:22am
post #14 of 20


No worries about acknowledging earlier post. I've been staying off the internet myself lately after I received my $300 bill for data over-usage!  

I really appreciate your detailed review of the cake flour.  I agree the recipe from Sfscratch is a good recipe, but definitely not the right recipe for this flour.  Her cake recipe was developed for bleached cake flour.  I think one issue is water absorbency, which is altered when flour is bleached.  Absorbency plays a major role in rise, which subsequently effects crumb.  The water absorbency of bleached cake flour will be about 50% of its weight.  The low absorbency slows the rate in which the batter sets.  Consequently, the batter has more time to rise; so you end up with a high rise, and a light, fluffy, and softer crumb.

Unbleached flour will absorb more moisture, and subsequently set faster, inhibiting rise; the result is a more dense, coarse, and tough crumb.

I didn't realize the flour was whole wheat.  It's that's kind of unique using whole wheat for cake flour.  That definitely is another contributing factor in a dense and coarse crumb.  Whole wheat flour has an absorbency of 65% - 70%!  Whole wheat flour will never produce a find crumb, even if you reduce the moisture in the batter.  Whole wheat flour can work in a sturdy quick bread, like banana nut bread, but not for a butter cake, foam cake, or sponge.  Still, if I were going to use it in a muffin or quick bread, I'd blend it with an all-purpose flour.  

Whole wheat has a very short shelf life, hence the instructions to refrigerate the flour.  Once it goes rancid, it will taste very bitter.  I think a lot of people who say they dislike whole wheat bread because it tastes bad, have just eaten whole wheat bread made with rancid flour.  

Great thing about boyfriends, hus bands, brothers, and sons is they will eat anything you bake.  my first foray into cake decorating produced a cake so frighteningly ugly, I wouldn't eat it.  Husband said, "that's the ugliest cake I've ever seen, but darn if it doesn't taste delicious."

Even though I know enough about organic farming and flour bleaching to know bleached flour is not harmful, I still rarely use it.  The Central Milling organic flours I blend won't be exactly like Softasilk, but they produce an excellent cake.  

I just tried Bob's Red Mill cake flour, unbleached, but not organic.  I was curious about the flour's performance, so I bought a bag of it.  Wow, that flour really caramelized!  I baked two separate batches of white cakes, first one at 350 degrees, then another at 325 degrees.  Both were very caramelized despite pulling the second batch slightly under-done.  That's the unbleached effect...bleached flour inhibits browning.  Another reason bleached cake flour is so prized by cake bakers.  

Here's the kicker about bleached flour...flour is only exposed to a chorine gas, not saturated in it.  The chlorine is chloride, which is a mineral electrolyte.  Chloride, potassium, magnesium, calcium, bicarbonate and  hydrogen phosphate are electrolytes in our bodies and are essential for life.  Chloride is the same electrolyte that's in electrolyte water.  Flour mills just made a horrible marketing mistake in using the term "bleached."

02emma Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
02emma Posted 14 Feb 2017 , 10:17am
post #15 of 20

Nice will try it, definately

msbelle21 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
msbelle21 Posted 12 Mar 2017 , 4:15pm
post #16 of 20

Umm, what? A $300 bill is ridiculous. I've been swamped at work as I'm trying to transition everyone to a 4-day work schedule. It's left my brain hurting with no time or strength for anything extra in the last few weeks. Gross.

As you appreciate my detailed review, I truly do appreciate your detailed posts. Thanks for explaining my results! I've been baking for years and feel like I know so much, but then I'm easily, and rather quickly, humbled by your posts as well as this forum in general. I know nothing! LOL!

I've only ever baked with unbleached AP, bleached AP, and bleached cake flour, so I don't know how whole wheat flours are supposed to work truthfully. Their website says their organic cake flour is "excellent for very fine pastries and cakes", so I figured they should work the same. Apparently not. If I'm going to end up cutting it with regular flour, then maybe I'd be best sticking to what I know for the time being and accept that there's currently no ready-made organic cake flour that can produce a fine-crumbed cake like it's inorganic counterparts. :(

Yes, unbleached cake flours do caramelize! I can't remember whose blog I was reading, but in all the experiments I've seen or done with unbleached cake flour/unbleached AP flour vs bleached cake flour, bleached cake flour always reigned superior in appearance, taste, and rise, with the unbleached cake flours having a darker color and nutty flavor almost. I did a test batch recently with high ratio cake flour from Purasnow (General Mills) and WOW! Kicked my Softasilk's butt, and that was my favorite flour! Bleached is definitely the best way to go for the best results.

I was looking forward to offering organic cakes, but I guess I underestimated the work that involves. I love the idea of supporting a small business and playing with their product though, even if they're in far-away Oregon. I'll send them an email for help on how best to use their flour and will use what I have left for more home experiments until I'm satisfied with a creation I can sell.

My home bakery is in its infancy stages, so getting flour from Central Milling isn't an option for me as of now. Too expensive. They're definitely on my to-try list when my bakery starts growing though. :)

GI Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
GI Posted 13 Mar 2017 , 1:40am
post #17 of 20

Very informative thread.  Thank you for posting such great information.

I find I have more people wanting non-gluten. (*NOT necessary gluten free as I do not have a gluten free kitchen.)   Now for 'me' personally, I'd like to try the organic.  We support as many small farms as possible and organic wheat processing would be the next step.

msbelle21 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
msbelle21 Posted 16 Mar 2017 , 10:45pm
post #18 of 20

^^ Of course! I'll have to delve into GF baking soon too as I'm curious. Supporting small farms, local businesses, etc., is always a great way to go in my opinion. :)

I ended up getting a response from one of the owners. She uses the flour to make lemon bars, muffins, and cakes, and suggested sifting the flour first and adding 1 tbsp of organic cornstarch for every 1 cup of their organic cake flour. I'll have to try that next time and report with more details lol.

-K8memphis Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
-K8memphis Posted 16 Mar 2017 , 10:53pm
post #19 of 20

i've used a similar formula to 'make' cake flour and it was a vanilla cake and it so tasted like corn --

-K8memphis Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
-K8memphis Posted 16 Mar 2017 , 11:13pm
post #20 of 20

hope you have better results

Quote by @%username% on %date%