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Oct 25, 2012 01:42 PM

Why Can't I Just Use Self-Rising Flour?

I have recipes that I want to make, but I think, "Why do I have to add all these rising agents if I could just use self-rising flour?

I know you bakers out there will help me figure this out.

Also, if you have any special insights about self-rising flour versus or in conjunction with self-rising cornbread mix, please have at it!

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  1. Self rising flour is nothing more than flour, salt, and a leavening agent. If you want to use it in recipes that typically call for a bit of salt along with either/and/or baking soda/baking powder you'll find it works just fine. It's not a suitable substitute for yeast leavened recipes.
    As a ratio, self rising flour equals (roughly) 1 - 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt per cup.
    1 1/2 bp 1/2 s are the most typical.

    1. I always figured that some baked goods you want to rise more than others so by adding the leavening agents yourself you have more control. I've seen muffin recipes were they overdo the leavening agents and the muffins rise way more than necessary. Same time you don't want to risk making a cake/ quick bread that doesn't rise sufficiently.

      1. You can, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with doing so.

        It's just a matter of control over your ingredients. It's the same reason why some people eschew salted butter.

        It's just easier to control the amount of leavening agent yourself when you add it separately than when it's incorporated into your flour.

        1. As noted, self-rising flour is flour, baking powder, and salt. I haven't used it much, but my impression is that the common US brands are formulated with biscuits in mind. That might be ok for muffins as well, but it might be too salty for cakes.

          Since I've always had baking soda and baking powder on hand, self-rising flour is just another 'rising agent' that I don't need. There's nothing complicated about adding the baking powder required by the recipe, or 1 tsp/cup of flour if the recipe calls for self-rising.

          1. One thing to know is that self-rising flour from any mill uses a softer wheat than the same brand of AP flour. This is (again) because the target customer is making biscuits. I made a streusel coffee cake and used White Lily SR flour instead of my Gold Medal AP flour + leavening, and while it was perfectly delicious it was TOO tender; coffee cake wants to be a little chewy, and this was not. So factor that into your equation. I wouldn't use it for donuts, either.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Will Owen

              Will Owen is correct. Most brands of self-rising flour have a lower % of protein. This does affect the texture of the end product. IMO, sometimes this matters more than other times.

              1. re: Will Owen

                Good to know Will. Thanks. I never use the stuff but now that you mention that, I may keep a bag around for making biscuits.


                1. re: Will Owen

                  thank you, will -- that is the information that i needed to be reminded of!

                  ps, white lily was my mom's favorite!

                  1. re: alkapal

                    Unfortunately you can't get that same White Lily anymore. That said, I bought a bag a couple years back to use specifically for biscuits and I had trouble with it. Much softer than what I was used to and my biscuits weren't as good. More tender and probably tasted about the same but I really had some problems working with it.
                    I guess I need to have another go at it.


                    1. re: Davwud

                      Shirley Corriher, who probably knows more about biscuits than anyone else on the planet, says that today's White Lily is not up to old White Lily's quality, no matter what Smucker's (the new owner) says to the contrary. Of course they're talking from two different directions: Smucker's is saying no difference can be detected in the lab, while Shirley is talking about how the biscuits come out. I'm with Shirley.

                      That said, it's still better than Gold Medal in my books. I like it because I tend to be a bit ham-fisted with dough, and WL lets me finally make biscuits that can't be used as weapons!

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        What ever happened to her (Corriher's) own brand produced by some other southern mill? NC Midstate Mills.

                        I read some place that Smucker's bought White Lily from a Texas outfit,
                        CH Guenther
                        I've seen their Pioneer Brand baking mix at Grocery Outlet, and was tempted to buy some just to see if there was anything distinctive about it.

                        1. re: paulj

                          I've used Pioneer baking mix, as well as their gravy mixes. I haven't seen it here in SoCal, but it was quite popular in Nashville. Not noticeably different from Bisquick, maybe a tad cheaper. I mostly got it to be patronizing a somewhat smaller corporate entity.

                          I didn't know Shirley had her own brand of flour. I do know that she was prompted to test the new White Lily against the old after Smucker's shut down the Knoxville mill that had been the sole source for the flour, moved the operation all the way over to Memphis, and started buying soft wheat from anyone who'd sell it cheap enough. Talk about blowing it in the terroir department!