Cake Chemistry – The Science of Baking


If you have ever gone to a culinary school, one of the basic lessons you would learn is, baking is a science. Every ingredient from flour to salt in baking plays a scientifically important role in delivering the desired texture and flavour to the end product. We all know that baking is an art, but what we don’t know is that the baking process in itself is pure science.

When baking a cake, accuracy in the measurements of ingredients is as important as the method of preparation in getting the desired result. Getting the right measurements and knowing the recipe can get you a perfectly baked cake, but knowing how the ingredients work, will make you a pro in cake baking.

Science is not everyone’s thing, but knowing a little for the sake of cakes wouldn’t be that bad an idea. So, let’s begin with creaming the fat and sugar. When we cream the fat and sugar many little air bubbles are formed in the process, and these bubbles are kept trapped in the mixture surrounded by a film of fat. It is the air bubbles that bring the fluffiness in the cake when beaten eggs are added to the mixture. Only solid fat has this ability to hold air bubbles, that is why we need to use butter or margarine in recipes that call for creaming of the fat and sugar. Using butter rather than margarine is all about the flavour.

Flour, the main structure building element in cakes have protein that bonds and creates gluten when it comes in contact with wet ingredients, giving the cake its structure. Then comes the leaveners, that is baking soda or baking powder. When the leaveners come in contact with wet ingredients they produce carbon dioxide which will be stuck in the batter because of the starch from the flour and during baking, it will expand and make the cake rise.

Now, sugar is not just an ingredient that provides sweetness to the cake. It plays a multi-role in baking a cake. Sugar breaks the gluten in the flour and keeps the texture tender, it absorbs and locks in the moisture keeping the cake moist and it caramelizes during baking enhancing the flavours and helps the cake brown.

In short an understanding of the interaction of ingredients is the key to successful cake baking. The above said are pure basics. Learning and understanding the basics can give you the confidence to bake like a pro resulting in perfectly baked goodies. To know and learn more about some classic cake recipes visit ICCA Dubai and get yourself professionally trained by world-class chefs to become a Pro in baking.


Shruti Raj

A simple writer, with hands on experience in Public Relations and Communications. An ardent lover of food with a natural flair for culinary arts, who loves to write anything and everything about food, with a career background of more than half a decade invested in various communication fields. Now being a part of ICCA Dubai Digital Marketing team, she intends to showcase her professional expertise in web & print content development and food photography, and adapt to learn more with the team.

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1 Comment

  • Combining the dry and wet ingredients puts them to work — the proteins in the flour bond and create gluten, giving the cake its flexibility. Eggs hold the mixture together. Baking powder and baking soda each release carbon dioxide, adding bubbles to the batter, helping it expand. It’s important to mix dry ingredients in the right order, Vodovotz said. Each dry element is competing for water.

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