I just LOVE cooking. I started cooking and baking when I was around 4. Both my parents are the worst when it comes to cooking, so I had no choice but becoming the family's chef. Which means every Family dinner is up to me. Considering the fact, my close family includes 12 people and adding my uncle and aunt with their kids we are about 40 and still counting! Being a Jewish family means a LOT of occasions. So, a lot of cooking and learning for me, yayyyy.
While I love to cook and improve while I cook, baking is a different story. You don’t just think to yourself “a little more flour will do” or “some extra butter would be good” without knowing how that changes your finished product—unless, of course, you’re a master baker or have a PhD in chemistry. For the rest of us though, it takes a little studying first.
People say cooking is an art, well than baking is a science. And The key to better baking is understanding the chemistry at play. What a better way to understand it other than conducting a little experiment. The experiment is going to be all about baking cakes. Baking cakes is an AMAZING chemical reaction. This experiment shows what happens to a cake when we leave out or substitute a certain ingredient. I made 10 different cakes each represents a study case. SO LET THE BAKING BEGIN.
Step 1: Purpose
In this experiment we will examine how each of the ingredients affects the cake, and what substitutes can be used.
The ingredients interact with each other to produce varying density, texture and taste.
This experiment will help us understand the chemistry of the cake much better. As a result, we will be able to prevent future mistakes. And we will be a step closer to bake the most perfect cake EVER.
Step 2: Equipment & Ingredients Required:
210g all-purpose Flour
6g baking powder
11.3g unsalted butter
201g granulated sugar
76.3g beaten Eggs
2.5 teaspoon Vanilla extract
120g Whole milk
67.8g canola Cooking oil
11.3g Sour cream
11g Apple sauce
0.2 Tablespoon ground Flaxseed
1g Baking soda
0.25 teaspoon Lemon juice
medium Mixing bowl
Step 3: The Basic Cake:
21g all-purpose Flour
0.6g baking powder
11.3g butter at room temperature
20.1g granulated sugar
10.9g beaten Eggs
0.25 teaspoon Vanilla extract
12g Whole milk
Preheat oven to 400̊F/ 200̊c. Prepare dishes: lightly coat with butter
In a mixing bowl Sift the flour, baking powder and salt.
Add the butter to the dry ingredients and beat by hand on low speed. Until the mixture is well blended and resembles rough sand.
Add sugar and beat until "sand" becomes fine and damp.
Add egg, vanilla and milk and beat on high speed until well blended.
Pour in to one of the dishes and bake about 18 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the dish before unmolding.
Mix the batter for each cake individually changing the recipe
following the table in the picture above.
Note: in cakes 6-10 use canola cooking oil instead of butter since the results are better.
Placing in the oven also has an order for not confusing which cake is which.
Only 3 cakes are baking at the same time. After making the batter put the cake in the oven and start making the next batter. When you put a cake in the oven, make sure you know the time you inserted it, so you'll know when to take it out. Each cake bakes for 18 minutes. I suggest putting in a cake every 6 minutes, so it is easier to follow. follow the chart in the picture above when placing the cake. And mark an X on every cake that comes out.
When taking out the cakes place them next to a sign saying their number. As shown in the pictures above.
are all the cakes ready?
You're done with the baking part of the experience. You can already tell the differences between some of the cakes. But why did it happen? And what is the purpose of every ingredient? Continue reading to find out.
Step 7: Theoretical Background:
Let's talk about the different ingredients:
In charge of the cake's strength and holding the ingredients together. While the protein in the flour mixes with water it forms gluten. The gluten stretches in a form of a net trapping gases inside the cake while baking. The more protein in the flour the more strength it will give to the dough. Cake flour contains 7.5 percent protein, all purpose flour is 10.5 percent and bread flour is 12 percent. Using cake flour makes a softer cake, when replacing it with all purpose flour- use a little less.
leavening agents are what separate cakes from bread. Chemical leavening agents release carbon dioxide gases within the cake mixture during the baking process, helping the cake to rise and get a better and lighter structure. Chemical leavening agents include baking powder, baking soda and cream of tartar. Yeast is a natural leavening agent that works similarly to the chemical one. Another leavening agents we are familiar with is air. In some recipes air is being added to the batter. For example: eggs are beaten, butter and sugar are creamed, and the dry ingredients are sifted.
Improves texture, moistness and flavor. Most used fat is butter since it can be creamed and add air to the mixture, making it softer. More fat sources are shortening, margarine, and cooking oil.
helps to make cakes softer and more moist. Using the wrong amount can cause the cake to be too tender(too much) or too tough(too little). It also has an effect on the cake's color and flavor. Sugar bonds best with water molecules so it is the most used. Other alternatives are honey, artificial sweeteners and more.
the proteins In the eggs help the structure and leavening of the cake. The emulsifiers in a yolk help mixing ingredients that are usually not mixing together. When heated the proteins help the cake receive a brown color. The fat in the yolk also affect the flavor of the cake and adds richness.
their job is to hydrate the protein, starch and the leavening agents. Allowing the chemical changes developing the structure of the cake.while baking the liquid becomes steam which expands the air cells and the volume of the cake. They also make the cake more moist and have a better texture.
Step 8: Baking Ingredients Substitution That Can Be Used:
baking soda+ lemon juice:
lemon juice is very acidic thanks to the high amount of citric acid it contains. So it can help trigger an acid base reaction when paired with baking soda.
Due to its flavor it's best used in recipes that call for a small amount of baking powder.
How to use: instead of 1 Tsp of baking powder use 0.25 Tsp(1 g) baking soda and 0.5 Tsp (2.5g) lemon juice.
Baking soda+ cream of tartar:
Cream of tartar is also known as potassium hydrogen tartrate. It is an acidic powder. The most common use for it is egg whites and cream stabilizer as well as preventing the formation of sugar crystals.
How to use: instead of 1 Tsp (5g) of baking powder use 0.25 Tsp(1 g) baking soda and 0.5 Tsp (2g) cream of tartar.
Applesauce is sweet and moist, so it works well in baked goods. You may want to adjust the sugar in the recipe so the cake wont be too sweet. The applesauce helps binding the cake's mixture though it doesn’t help with rising.
How to use: Instead of 1 egg use 1/3 cup of applesauce.
Ground flax seeds combined with water are used as a replace of an egg. It should be used for denser baked goods, because it will not work for light and fluffy cakes.
How to use: instead of 1 egg use 1 Tbs of ground flax seeds+3 Tbs of water.
the differences among different fats:
butter contains mostly fat with some milk solids in It so it does a good job of shortening which means covering the flour to decrease the amount of gluten that is formed. Furthermore, it is great at trapping air bubbles.
Margarine / vegetable shortening:
it is higher in total fat than butter and especially trans fat. Although it is very good at shortening and trapping air bubbles.
does a great job at shortening. As a liquid it can cover the flour very well but it is not good at trapping air.
using yogurt instead of butter reduces the fat in the baking goods.it will add some tangy flavor to the product.
Step 9: Now the Fun Part >> Results
After baking all 10 cakes you can see the differences.
If you can wait just a little bit longer before eating those yummy cakes, place all cakes in airtight containers. So, you can check how long the cakes could keep their freshness.
Step 10: What Works and What Flops
Cake number 1:
What's the difference? no difference- original recipe
Did it work? worked
Taste test: yum
Total score: 9/10
Cake number 2:
What's the difference? Canola cooking oil instead of butter
Did it work? Even better than the original recipe
Taste test: 10/10 so good
Total score: 10/10
Cake number 3:
What's the difference? sour cream instead of butter
Did it work? It was ok
Taste test: a bit dense
Total score: 6/10
Cake number 4:
What's the difference? Yogurt instead of butter
Did it work? Surprisingly did
Taste test: low fat? Couldn't notice
Total score: 7/10
Cake number 5:
What's the difference? No butter
Did it work? Not really
Taste test: too dense!
Total score: 5/10
Cake number 6:
What's the difference? No eggs
Did it work? No!
Taste test: OK, kinda crumbly
Total score: 4/10
Cake number 7:
What's the difference? applesauce instead of eggs
Did it work? yes!
Taste test: really good, moister but in a good way
Total score: 8/10
Cake number 8:
What's the difference? ground flax seed + water instead of eggs
Did it work? No!
Taste test: it was bad
Total score: 4/10
Cake number 9:
What's the difference? No baking powder
Did it work? I expected worse
Taste test: felt eggy
Total score: 5/10
Cake number 10:
What's the difference? baking soda+ lemon juice instead of baking powder
Did it work? pretty well
Taste test: yum, couldn’t feel the lemon
Total score: 9/10
Participated in the
Science of Cooking