What is Pastry Flour

Dear Home Ec 101:

What’s the difference between pastry flour and regular flour? I came across this– and looks like it’d be easy enough to do gluten free if I can just figure out which grain would best cross over to pastry flour.

~Wheatless in Wilshire

Heather says:

Supermarkets often carry four kinds of white flour: all-purpose, bread, cake, and self-rising. Pastry flour is often much harder to track down, but can be ordered online in larger quantities. You may have luck finding it in the frou-frou, higher end grocery stores. Just make sure you put your blinders on before entering and try to keep other over-priced goodies from jumping in your cart.

Pastry flour has a lower protein content than bread or all-purpose flour, about 8% – 9%. It contains slightly more than cake flour which runs from 5% – 8%. The protein content of the flour is partly responsible for the soft feel of cake versus the chewy texture of bread. In a pinch it is possible to approximate pastry flour’s protein content by sifting together two parts cake flour to one part all-purpose.

For gluten free pastry flour consider: 1 part rice flour, 1 part fine cornmeal, to 1 part potato flour and experiment with adding xanthan gum until you have the proper texture. (Approximately 1 tsp for every 9oz of flour). It is important to note if you are dealing with a highly allergic individual that xanthan gum may trigger a reaction in those allergic to corn.

Good luck with your gluten free treat.

Submit your question by sending an email to helpme@home-ec101.com


  1. Caroline on September 15, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    I just discovered a great way to keep from overbuying at the fancy market. I had to go there for fresh basil and mozzarella yesterday, and I was on the phone with a friend the whole time. Yes kind of rude (i did put her on hold at the register), but I was so focused on the conversation, i didn't pick up any side items as i made my way through thte store. Oh and this store is set up so you have to walk through the whole thing so lots of temptations!

    Course then I got home and realized my eggs had a use by date of May 15th, so I ended up at the cheapo grocery down the street buying eggs.

  2. Erin S on June 12, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    I have been doing a lot of gluten free baking lately (3 wedding cakes!) and have found that a mixture of 2 1/2 c rice flour, 1/2 c corn starch and 1 1/2 tsp zanthan powder is a great combination for baking. I sift all the dry ingredients together at least 4 times – this makes a HUGE difference in the texture of your cake.

    I use a rice flour from the Indian Foods Aisle at my grocery store as it is way less expensive than other brands, although there are no labels indicating there has been no cross contamination. I discussed this with all my brides and none were concerned.

  3. Kathy T. on December 7, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    Crap girls. I can’t figure out which is better between self-rising and all-purpose. I am a home-ec illiterate.

  4. Trixie on December 7, 2007 at 9:52 am

    I’ve always used Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry flour with great results. I is all whole wheat but ground really fine to make it work better in baked goods.

    Take Care,


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