This one has been bugging me for a while.... Please help me out of my confusion!

Can anyone please tell me the difference between what the English call plain flour and self-raising flour and what in America is just all-purpose flour? And what effect does any of this have on cooking?

I have lots of English recipe books in America, and of course all my favourite websites, which call for plain or self-raising flour which I now can't get. How do I best accommodate any differences? Is it with the addition of baking powder or baking soda? And if so, how much?

I know there are similar questions already on here, but none of them quite answer my dilemma...

asked 01 Dec '09, 03:18

Ikkle%20Becca's gravatar image

Ikkle Becca
accept rate: 22%

US & UK all purpose and plain flour can be interchanged without any adjustments. US cake flour is lighter however, and can be substituted with 1 cup minus 3 Tbsp. of all purpose/plain flour, and add 3 Tbsp. of cornstarch or potato flour to make the full cup. Self rising flour can be made by substituting 1 cup of all purpose/plain flour minus 2 tsp., and add 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt to make the full cup. US whole wheat flour is interchangeable with UK wholemeal flour.link text

Hope this helps.


answered 01 Dec '09, 08:27

AnnaRaven's gravatar image

accept rate: 9%


But don't forget that a US cup is 8oz, or 227ml, which is half a 16oz US pint. A cup in the UK is 250ml, a pint in the UK is 20oz, or 568ml.

(01 Dec '09, 09:12) klypos ♦♦

Wow! Detailed answer. I think I'm less confused now! So I should mostly use US cake flour for baking - is that right? Does that substitute for UK self-rising flour?!

(01 Dec '09, 16:32) Ikkle Becca

Kyplos - thanks for that too. Cups are almost never used in the UK (except to drink tea!), and I wish I knew who decided, and why, that UK and US measures should be different! What a pain!

(01 Dec '09, 16:33) Ikkle Becca

Something's gone wrong - I can't add this as a comment - so it has to be a post. Don't vote for this unless you find it really helpful, it is not relevant to the original question - just info for Becca.

Y, right - 250ml is the Euro standard, because nobody could agree when they were establishing it. Real UK teacups are only 5oz or 6oz, and real UK made in Staffordshire coffee mugs are usually 275 ml when brimful, and if you drink from a Staffordshire "pint mug" it is a lot less than any pint!

Use a measuring jug to establish what you have, then you can use a particular cup and spoons as measures. And be careful when using old recipes - the meanings of teaspoon, tablespoon, dessertspoon, and cup have only been standardised in the last part of the last century.

Old teaspoons were around 7ml (1/4 oz), but for the purpose of giving medicine, the world has standardised the teaspoon at 5 ml - which is where all the harmonisation started, back in the 1960s. Out here in the wilds of East Yorkshire, you still get the old fashioned big teaspoons in transport cafes ...

Old dessert spoons can be only 10ml. Old tablespoons can be anything between 14 and 28ml (half an ounce to an ounce), but for the sake of harmony, a tablespoon is now 15ml (except in Australia, where it is 20ml).

Everybody has a "bee in the bonnet" about keeping things just as they are, which is why mains electricity in Japan is 100V ...


answered 02 Dec '09, 02:43

klypos's gravatar image

klypos ♦♦
accept rate: 10%

I am getting the same comment bugs I'll see what I can do. in the meantime I find that if you retry the comment will eventually post

(02 Dec '09, 08:38) Kris ♦♦

I understand the differences between the commonly used weighted measure of grams used for UK plain flour and the 8oz volume measurement of US all purpose flour. However, there is still a difference in the results I get when baking. If I use my American recipes and measure UK plain flour(which is supposed to be equivalent in action)using a standard US measuring cup. I end up with shorter cakes, flatter cookies and denser breads. Baked goods don't rise as high in the UK. Even packaged mixes such as Bisquick baking mix don't give the same light fluffy biscuits I had in the States. I end up with short heavy 'scones'. When I finally contacted Bisquick directly, I was told that while the name on the box is the same and the 2 products appear identical, there are ingredients and processing techniques used in the States that are not allowed within the EU. As such, products listed as equavalent may not actually be the same. Is there a difference in the amount of gluten in the flour? How do I compensate for the apparent difference?


answered 11 Jun '12, 06:13

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accept rate: 0%

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Asked: 01 Dec '09, 03:18

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Last updated: 11 Jun '12, 06:13

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