How to make self-raising flour

3 December 2008 | Category Basic, Food Facts, Recipes | 25 comments »

Self-raising flour isn’t always readily available in some countries, or it’s very expensive because it’s imported. Maybe it’s better to DIY, but how?

Actually, it’s not all that difficult. At its most basic, all you need is plain (all-purpose) flour and baking powder. Most of the various TV chefs have their own recommended proportions of baking powder to flour – but about one or two teaspoons of baking powder to 250g/½lb of flour seems to be the right amount. (On the packet of baking powder we’ve got, the manufacturer recommends 2%-5% of the weight of flour being used, depending on the recipe the flour’s to be used in – that would work out as between 4g and 10g for 200g of flour.)

We like the version Ainsley Harriott uses in his recipe for Tabletop Naan Bread (from his excellent book Gourmet Express), which uses the following measurements:

  • 450g/1lb plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • a pinch of salt

A bit more complex than the straightforward “bung in the baking powder” formula, but it’s given good results for us every time. (On the other hand, if the thing you’re making needs to be lighter than naan bread, you might be better sticking with the 2 tsp of baking powder.)

Anyway, put the other ingredients into the flour and make sure it’s thoroughly mixed in. Some people recommend passing the whole lot through a sieve to make well and truly sure, but that seems like a bit too much faffing to me.


25 responses »

  1. Comment by Giulietta | 25 August 2009 @ 13:24

    How do I know if a flour is self raising or plain? The label came off from the storing jar

  2. Comment by Not Delia | 27 August 2009 @ 14:10

    Hi Giulietta

    I don’t really think there is any way you could tell the difference just by look or smell. If I had a similar problem, I would use up the flour for general purposes, such as making sauces and dusting the work board and rolling pin. That way it won’t matter if it’s plain or self-raising – it’ll still do the job.

  3. Comment by dave | 9 November 2009 @ 13:38

    Hi Not Delia, i have been reading through your forum and i am surprised you was able to use self raising flour to make sauces as the soda would surely cause your roux and eventual sauce to ferment. If you have cream of tartar and bi-carb soda, 2+1 part mix will also create baking powder.

  4. Comment by Not Delia | 9 November 2009 @ 14:02

    Thanks for commenting on my blog but you’ve got me quite confused as to the points you’re making (or trying to make).

    1. I’ve never recommended anywhere that anyone should use self raising flour to make sauces. I said that if you weren’t sure what kind of flour you had, then it wouldn’t hurt to use it.

    The above posting is simply about how to make SR flour out of plain (all purpose) flour if SR isn’t available or is too expensive to import.

    2. You can make a sauce with SR flour (if you’ve run out of plain). Assuming it was eaten as soon as you made it, then how would it have time to ferment?

    3. Self raising flour isn’t used for very many things (dumplings, of course, is the first thing that springs to mind).

  5. Comment by Mr Not Delia | 9 November 2009 @ 16:51

    It won’t ferment anyway – fermentation’s a completely different chemical reaction.

    Admittedly, carbon dioxide will be produced from the reaction – between the tartaric acid and the sodium bicarbonate. (Did any of you have chemistry sets for Christmas? If you did, I bet you remember that particular reaction from trying to make fizzy drinks. :-) ) But surely a good whisking will knock out any fizz that happens to be left? We’re talking about a sauce here, after all, not a cake mix. Cake mixes are much thicker, which is how come the bubbles of carbon dioxide are trapped in the mix during baking and result in a lighter cake. It should be easy enough to get rid of the small amount of CO2 from the self-raising agent in the flour.

  6. Comment by minim | 27 June 2010 @ 08:51

    It’s easy to tell the difference between plain and self-raising flour: taste it – plain flour will taste just of flour – bland with not much flavour. Self-raising will taste a little salty-sour because of the baking powder. Once you’ve tasted them you’ll never be in doubt again. Ta for the instructions – you’ve just saved my pikelets :-)

  7. Comment by Weirdartist | 28 October 2010 @ 11:58

    Hi just wanted to say thanks for this one! It saved me from the ‘wrath of child’ when I promised to make cupcakes with him and picked up the wrong kind of flour!

    They are in the oven now, so fingers crossed!

  8. Comment by Not Delia | 28 October 2010 @ 12:47

    I’m glad the info is saving pikelets and cupcakes around the world. I feel like a super hero – Not Delia to the rescue!

    Great to have feedback. Thank you.

    Keep those comments coming!

  9. Comment by Norman Chapman | 30 November 2010 @ 22:15

    Whem making baked desserts using self raising flour, the cake doesn’t rise. Cooking longer doesn’t sound the right answer!

  10. Comment by Eileen Coleman | 23 February 2011 @ 20:35

    When I did my Army trade training we were always told 1oz of baking powder to 1lb of plain flour. We never used self raising flour in the army. So many recipes use plain flour, eg. batter mix, crumble, swiss roll and pastry to name a few. Also if like me you have a small kitchen it takes up less room to store a large bag of flour and a small tub of baking powder than 2bags of flour. The flour also gets used before it is past it’s best.

  11. Comment by bunmi | 14 March 2011 @ 09:03

    pls can you help me with a recipe that calls for 200g self raising flour but i have all purpose flour. How do i convert all purpose flour to 200g self raising flour thanks.

  12. Comment by Mr Not Delia | 14 March 2011 @ 09:26

    @bunmi (11) – Already answered in the original article:

    (On the packet of baking powder we’ve got, the manufacturer recommends 2%-5% of the weight of flour being used, depending on the recipe the flour’s to be used in – that would work out as between 4g and 10g for 200g of flour.)

  13. Comment by Pamelia | 4 April 2011 @ 06:33

    So glad I found this page. I am an American living in China for 2 years and can not always get the ingredients I am use to. Thank you

  14. Comment by Pamelia | 4 April 2011 @ 06:50

    Question. My country town in China has no butter, must travel 3 hours by bus to purchase butter. I have to cook brownies tomorrow and have no butter. What can I use? No margarine, no shortening.

  15. Comment by Not Delia | 4 April 2011 @ 07:14

    Hi Pamelia

    Glad we could help on the flour side of things.

    Sorry, I’m not much of a baker so I don’t know how to make brownies without butter or butter substitute. I did an internet search about it and some people say you can use oil instead, but most others say that the taste and texture isn’t so good.

    You could try asking on our food forum perhaps someone on there will know how to do it. (The forum is free to join.)

  16. Comment by Mel | 10 April 2011 @ 12:04

    try making a cake… if it’s flat and like rubber, then that was the plain flour LOL easy

  17. Comment by NickyMW | 26 May 2011 @ 08:45

    I used a recipe lately that used mayonnaise as the fat instead of butter…it was was for muffins (which generally use oil anyway) but it peaked my curiosity so I then googled and noticed a few cake type recipes using mayonnaise! Also google dairy intolerant and see what comes up. It may just give your margarine recipies but may have the mayo alternative.

  18. Comment by RobertP | 20 November 2011 @ 12:53

    Thanks for this I have just spent 30 mins in store with my Estonian girlfriend trying to explain what self raising flour is !!! You must have it here I said, everyone uses self raising flour…right ? !!! Well apparently not, not in Estonia anyway !

  19. Comment by Andy | 3 December 2011 @ 15:53

    Self-raising flour isn’t necessary in any store cupboard, Eileen had it right in February :-) it’s just a pre-prepared mix of something you can easily do yourself on the spot (as is baking soda when it comes to it)

  20. Comment by Andy | 3 December 2011 @ 15:57

    Whoops I meant ‘baking powder’ = bicarb of soda + cream of tartar

  21. [...] Google search revealed lots of different thoughts on the right balance between plain flour and baking powder to create the perfect self-raising [...]

  22. Pingback by Self Raising Flour | White Brick Oven | 23 February 2012 @ 02:17

    [...] We shall shortly be producing our own stone ground flours. We will not be producing a “Self Raising Flour” so we provide this link. [...]

  23. Comment by Bishops Fing | 4 April 2014 @ 18:26

    Thanks. Your a lifesaver.

  24. Comment by tugce | 15 June 2014 @ 07:52

    Hi i’m from germany so my english is very bad

    How much self raising flour is that ? In my recipe written 1ib self raising flour and i dont know how much it is and how much i need to make 1 Ib self raising flour? It will be nice when you text me back on my email

  25. Comment by Mr Not Delia | 15 June 2014 @ 09:45

    Hi, Tugce! Don’t worry about your English – it’s fine. :)

    One pound (1 lb) is 453 grams – so 450 g of flour is more or less a pound already. Half a teaspoon of baking powder (Backpulver), a quarter of a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda (Natron) and a pinch (Prise) of salt won’t make much difference.

    The abbreviation “lb” comes from “libra”, which is simply the Latin word for “pound”.

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