I always get an overwhelming sense of anxiety when I go into the baking aisle in the grocery store and see the massive variety of flour. Almond flour vs. coconut flour. Cake flour vs. bread flour. During Christmas, my mom trusted me with picking up flour for our baking binge. However, I lost her grocery shopping trust when I picked up self-rising flour instead of all-purpose flour. Since then I have wondered what is the difference in the self-rising vs. all-purpose flour conundrum?

Self-rising Flour

biscuits, bread
Audrey Tao

The first important thing about self-rising flour is to NOT use it as a substitute for all-purpose flour, or else you will experience severe disappointment in how your treats will turn out. Self-rising flour is unique in that it has had leavening agents (the ingredients that make the baked good rise) spread throughout the flour already. Most recipes like biscuits and other fluffy baked goods commonly call for this type of flour.

However, if you do not have self-rising flour and your recipe calls for it, you can make it! The ratio is: 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Just be sure to not add any more baking powder to the recipe when using self-rising flour.

All-Purpose Flour

chocolate, sweet, cookie, cake
Sydney Segal

All-purpose flour can be used for virtually all purposes. It is the go-to since it has an average level of protein from the milling process. This protein produces gluten which will give the dough its stretchable body. Once mixed with the other leavening agents (yeast or baking powder) it will rise and be delicious.

All-purpose flour is your go-to for other culinary purposes than baking. All-purpose flour can be used as a thickening agent or breading. You can also substitute all-purpose flour for other flours by using all-purpose flour as the base and adding different amount of leavening agents to it as needed. Check this article out to see an example of making a cake flour substitute.

flour, milk, cereal, dairy product, bread, coffee, wheat, dough, sweet
Jocelyn Hsu

When deciding to use self-rising vs. all-purpose flour, keep in mind your recipe as it should state when you need self-rising flour. Be sure not use it if it does not call for it. Now that you know when to use each, check out these recipes to learn how to use both of them.