This silken -textured flour is produced from the white heart of the maize (corn) kernel. It is primarily used as a thickening agent, but may also be added to cakes, biscuits and shortbread to give a fine-textured result.

As a thickener, it has a number of advantages over plain flour:

  • It has double the thickening properties.
  • Its fine texture means that it is less likely to form lumps.
  • It is flavourless, so can be can be used in delicately flavoured dishes.

However, cornflour does not thicken well when mixed with acidic liquids, and it will not stand up to prolonged cooking or freezing.

Cornflour may be used to thicken stews, casseroles, gravies, soups and sweet and savoury sauces. However, as it takes on a cloudy appearance when it is added to a liquid, it should not be used to thicken clear sauces or soups; arrowroot should be used where a translucent finish is required.

When using cornflour, it should be blended with twice the amount of cold water before adding to any recipe. This ensures that the flour can be easily incorporated without creating lumps. The smooth paste is added into the dish (which should be off the heat) and stirred in. The pan should then be returned to the heat and the liquid stirred for a minute or so until it thickens.

What we know as cornflour in the UK is called cornstarch in the US; they use the term corn flour to refer to whole corn kernels that have been finely ground.

Arrowroot      Plain Flour