Can I use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour?

I have a bunch of blueberries and I want to make blueberry muffins tonight. I found Alton Brown’s recipe and it looks good (not a freakin’ cup of butter in it). However, it calls for cake flour and all I have on hand is all-purpose. Will it come out bad if I use the AP? Is there a way to make the substitution?

Alternatively, if you have a better classic blueberry muffin recipe that does not call for a ton of butter, and uses AP flour, please post it. Thanks.

I wouldn’t swap it. The protein content can be significantly different, which will result in bad results. The muffins will still be edible, but not top notch.

From here.

I would go ahead and substitute for muffins. Muffins are a fairly resilient food. I’ve definitely never used cake flour to make them. My guess is you will get muffins with a little more heft to them and a little less cakey/Otis Spunkmeyer type. I’d wouldn’t substitute in a cake where you need it to rise evenly and look good. But I bet dollars to doughnuts your muffins will be edible.

Here is a recipe based on all purpose flour.

A slight hijack, but where do you actually find cake flour? I’ve never spotted it at the local Giant or Whole Foods.

As for the muffins, I have the Joy of Cooking out on my desk. It’s the muffin recipe I use most often:

Whisk together 2c all-purpose flour, 1 tbsp baking powder, .5 tsp salt. In another bowl, whisk together 2 eggs, 1c milk, .67 c sugar, .25-.5 c melted butter, 1 tsp vanilla. Pour runny stuff into dry stuff and mix together quickly. Stir in whatever else you’d like. With blueberries, I usually add lemon zest as well, but ymmv. Bake for about 17 min at 400 degrees.

Oh, and PS - vegetable oil (as called for by Alton Brown) has 20 more calories per tbsp than butter.

Every grocery store I’ve ever been to carries cake flour, right there next to the normal flour. It’s in a box, not a bag. Maybe that’s what’s throwing you off?

Or in bulk. </urban hippie>

Re the OP, the recipe will “work” with a straight substitution, but the texture will be different, and not in a good way. It’ll be heavier and, depending on the rest of the recipe, maybe gummier.

The recipe will probably turn out a titch heavier, but more than likely if you hadn’t made the cake flour one, you wouldn’t notice. I’d say most people wouldn’t notice and would still say, “hey, yummy muffins!”

Side by side comparison you’d probably notice the difference, but using AP flour won’t ruin them. When in doubt, use one of the standard conversions (that other awesome dopers have already posted).

If you do substitute, it’s beyond essential–seriously, absolutely crucial–that you agitate the mixture as little as possible to avoid activating the gluten. Stir with just a few quick strokes. Better to leave it a little lumpy (it will work itself out in the baking) than to toughen the flour with overmixing. The difference between muffins and bread is that muffins crumble, while bread forms a more solid, elastic, um, fabric. In order to keep the muffins tenderly crumblable, you must be very very careful not to activate the gluten. (Did I mention the gluten?)

Just to be on the safe side, you may want to send me some of the finished product for testing. I’ll get back to you with the results as soon as I’ve finished my glass of milk.

I’ve made a few muffins … biscuits, pancakes, cobblers (I’m getting hungry again) and I’ve never bought anything except AP flour. It’s hard to make a bad muffin.

I’ve never used anything but AP flour for muffins. What kind of frou-frou muffins are these? Yogurt? Also, I’ve actually never seen a muffin recipe call for butter–vegetable oil instead. I use the recipe out of an old paperback Betty Crocker cookbook, which I will post here if you want.

I wonder if they do still sell cake flour–who makes cakes from scratch anymore? Grocery stores do seem to be getting rid of a lot of those things…I couldn’t find canning supplies this year at Cub.

I did a lot of looking around online and a hell of a lot of muffin recipes call for butter.

Sure. I’m still looking for the right recipe.

I bet they still do, and I’ll look for it when I go to the store next week.