With similarity in the ingredients used and the fact that they both need leavening agents, a cake is sometimes considered to be the same thing as bread. This sometimes begs the question, is cake bread?
No, cakes are not bread despite being baked in a loaf pan and some of them are referred to as bread (e.g banana bread). Cake is not the same as bread because it does not make use of yeast but rather uses baking powder to rise. Cake batter also does not need proofing or kneading like bread dough.
This article helps you identify the differences that set cake apart from bread, and why cake is sometimes categorized as bread.
What is cake?
In general, a cake is a sweet treat made by mixing flour, sugar, and other ingredients and baking them. While earlier forms of cake were merely modifications of traditional bread, cakes now offer more types with their ingredients varying to give unique tastes.
These confectionaries can either be elaborate or simple, and share similarities with pastries, custards, desserts, pies, and meringues. Major ingredients used in baking cake include; eggs, flour, sugar, baking powder or baking soda (leavening agent), and fat (butter, margarine, or oil).
Additional ingredients used in baking cake include; fruits (candied, fresh, or dried), cocoa, nuts, and extracts (chocolate or vanilla), with various substitutions for the primary ingredients like the choice of flour used.
Cakes can be baked with nuts, dessert sauces ( whipped cream, jelly, cooked fruit, custard, or syrups), or fruit preserves. Choice of icing can include buttercreams or other icings, and decorations can range from candied fruits to marzipan, piped borders, and candies.
What makes cake different from bread?
The following features differentiate cakes from bread;
Although both use flour as their primary ingredient, cake makes use of baking powder or baking soda as its leavening agent while bread makes use of natural leaveners like yeast or sourdough.
Bread ingredients include water, salt, flour, sugar, or even a small amount of oil. These same ingredients are used by cakes, however, cakes may also use milk, flavored syrups, wine, eggs, or cocoa. This means that cakes are naturally richer than bread and tastier as they contain more ingredients and sources of nutrition.
Bread typically lacks frosting or icing while most cakes make use of it for decorative purposes.
Since the ingredients used in baking cake and bread are different from one another, their tastes are also different. However, the most notable difference is that cakes are much sweeter than bread due to the added sugar. Also, bread has more gluten due to the type of flour used thereby giving it a more chewy texture than cake.
Cake batter vs. bread dough: what’s the difference?
Although both are made using flour and liquid, the major difference between dough and batter is their texture and moisture. This is a result of higher liquid content in batter compared to bread dough.
Some differences between bread dough and cake batter include;
Bread dough is a malleable and generally thicker paste made from flour and liquid while the batter is a semi-liquid or liquid mixture containing one or more types of baking flour. Also, cake batter consists of more liquid than flour while bread consists of only a small amount of water or other liquid.
Cake batter forms by beating or whisking the ingredients while bread dough requires rolling or kneading. Also, cake batter is not malleable while the dough is malleable and can take different shapes.
Dough helps in the preparation of bread, pasta, noodles, and flatbread, while batter deals with the preparation of muffins, cakes, pancakes, cookies, etc.
How is Cake Similar to Bread?
Cake is similar to bread in terms of ingredients used (all-purpose flour), the fact that they both use leavening agents, and they are mainly prepared by baking.
Although cake possesses clear differences from bread, their similarities, however, make their classification elusive and confusing. For example, the rich ingredients used in making banana bread make it more similar to a cake or quick bread than traditional bread. Also, the earliest types of cake (yeast cakes) were very similar to the traditional bread you see today.
What are the uses of cakes?
Cake primarily serves as a celebratory dish for special occasions like birthdays, weddings, graduations, and anniversaries. They can also serve as desserts after special meals or used to celebrate certain holidays.
What are the types of cakes?
You can divide cakes into several categories based primarily on ingredients and mixing techniques. You can find the following types of cakes listed below;
- Sponge cake
- Layer cakes
- Butter cake
- Flourless cake
- Chocolate cake
- One egg cake
- Coffee cake
What flour is used to bake cake?
Most times, a special cake flour that consists of a high starch-to-gluten ratio is used to bake a cake. This flour consists of soft, low-protein, and fine-textured wheat. It is also more refined than all-purpose flour and results in the cake having a less dense and lighter texture.
Additionally, you can substitute cake flour or a small amount of all-purpose flour with cornstarch or remove about two tablespoons from your ingredient to give it a lighter mix. However, some recipes permit the complete usage of all-purpose flour while baking cake to give it a denser texture.
What allergens are in a cake?
Common allergens you can find in cake include wheat/gluten, eggs, milk, and sometimes nuts like hazelnut, peanuts, coconut, walnuts, almonds, or pistachios.
Can you eat cake as a daily staple?
No, it is not advisable to add cake to your daily diet as you will have an increased chance of getting cavities, heart diseases, weight gain, and type 2 Diabetes. This is because it has too many calories and trans fat.
Can you use bread flour to bake a cake?
Yes, you can use bread flour to bake a cake, however, you won’t get desirable results. This is because the flour used in baking bread has a higher protein level in comparison to cake flour and will produce more gluten. Ultimately, using bread flour to bake a cake will result in your cake being denser and chewier.
Can you use non-wheat flours to bake a cake?
Yes, you can use non-wheat flour substitutes to bake a cake especially if you have a wheat or gluten allergy. Common wheat flour substitutes that you can use include rice flour, coconut flour, or almond flour.
Although certain cakes are called bread because they are baked in a loaf pan just like banana bread, they do not contain yeast, and hence cannot be considered bread. These unique variants just like cakes use baking soda or baking powder and do not need proofing like bread.
Furthermore, the cake batter is not kneaded or rolled like bread dough but rather makes use of whisking or beating to be mixed. The cake batter is also lighter in texture and density due to its high volume of liquid unlike your bread though. These and more reasons listed above prevent them from being classified as bread.
Finally, would you like to make a cake but it keeps going bad due to minor errors like how long the cake batter should sit out? Learn how long it takes for the cake to sit out before it goes bad and also how to preserve cake batter to prevent spoilage.
I hope you found this article helpful. Thanks for reading.