Pastries and cakes. Whether homemade or purchased from a shop or bakery, variants of these sweet delights may be found in civilizations all across the world, indicating that our fondness for them is universal.
You are not alone if you have ever pondered what the difference between cakes and pastries is, considering that both satisfy our sugar needs and are manufactured from identical components.
Like with many other questions, the answer is dependent. The line between these two baked delights is not precisely defined, but there are several distinctions that may help us separate them.
Here’s a quick tip to tell your carrot cake from your croissants, and your palmiers from your pavlova.
- A Problem of Definition
- Dough and Batter
- It’s All About the Flour
- Cheese, Banana and Tea Cakes?
- A Question of Culture
A Problem of Definition
Like me, you probably have an idea in your brain of what a cake or pastry looks like but find it difficult to identify one. This is due to the diverse definitions of cake and pastry.
Pastry refers to both a kind of dough and specific baked goods prepared from that dough, while cake may refer to a wide variety of sweet treats.
It is advisable to compare them one at a time, starting with the sort of dough or batter and then moving on to the items themselves.
Dough and Batter
Pastry is a stiff dough generally comprised of flour, water, and lard. Some pastries have additional sugar, while others contain specialty fats and other additives.
At room temperature, the fat in most pastries is solid. The dough may be used as a basis, crust, or shell for different sweet or savory fillings such as pies, tarts, and pasties, depending on the kind of pastry.
Cake evolved from sweetened breads, therefore many traditional cakes have a porous structure that mimics that of bread.
Cake batter is often wetter than pastry batter, with the key components being flour, sugar, eggs, oil or soft butter, liquid (commonly milk), and a leavening agent.
Cake crumb is moist, soft, and supple, and it is often stacked, frosted, or otherwise topped with sweet toppings.
It’s All About the Flour
Although cake is more similar to bread than pastry, the flour used in it is considerably different. It all comes down to the quantity of protein in the flour, with pastry flour having greater amounts of protein (usually about 10-12%) and cake and biscuit flour having lower levels (often around 7.5-9%).
When flour is combined with water, this protein produces gluten strands, and too much gluten in a cake makes the crumb dry and harsh, rather than the desirable light and airy texture of a sponge or chiffon cake.
The eggs in cake provide the protein structure that allows it to rise by collecting the gases released by the leavening ingredient.
The chemistry of some pastries is highly diverse. For starters, leavening agents are seldom used, and in many forms of pastry that produce a crust or shell, such as shortcrust pastry, the goal is to keep the dough from rising too much.
The inclusion of fat to the dough prevents gluten from developing too firmly, resulting in a crumbly texture.
Several methods are used to generate the desired rise of the dough, such as in the numerous puff and flaky pastries. Layers are created by using the stronger gluten in pastry dough.
As with Danish pastries and croissants, moisture in the dough is transformed to steam, which is then trapped between these layers, causing the pastry to puff up.
The end product is a light, crunchy, flaky texture that is unlike cake.
Cheese, Banana and Tea Cakes?
Very distinct from one another. As we come to the numerous sweets created with pastry dough and cake batter, though, things start to get a bit confused.
If we disregard the savory applications of pastry and concentrate just on the sweet, we are left with two kinds of bases that may be eaten as is or filled, topped, stacked, or adorned in an unlimited number of ways.
Cakes and pastries may also be filled with cream, topped with fruit, and sprinkled with icing sugar, to mention a few options.
Nevertheless, as previously said, contemporary cakes may be sweet sweets other than those based on a baked batter, and can even utilize a pastry or pastry-like basis in certain situations.
Banoffee pie and cheesecake are both called cakes, but their bases are made of pastry or crushed biscuits and topped with dairy ingredients. There is no leavening agent in any of these cakes.
Fruit cake, banana cake, and tea loaves, on the other hand, straddle the line between cake and bread, emphasizing the connection between the two.
A Question of Culture
The underlying dough or batter typically determines whether a sweet treat should be classified as a pastry or a cake in the majority of circumstances. The rest seems to be a matter of tradition.
A pastry, at least in the English-speaking world, is nearly always created from pastry dough, but the parameters for what might be termed a cake are a bit more flexible. Several varieties of cakes have little or no flour and are hence not created from traditional cake batter.
The current popularity of gluten-free baking has given birth to a plethora of flour-free cakes, including some twists on old classics.
Nevertheless, not every culture categorizes its sweets in the same manner, and they may not have such a wide word as cake in their own language.
But it doesn’t really matter what you name it as long as you know how to create each one. You may be certain that whether it’s pastry or cake, it’ll taste just as fantastic!
Do you want to know more about cake and pastry? Check out our entries on different varieties of pastry and the functions of the components included in cake.
Is cupcake a cake or pastry?
What exactly are cupcakes? Cupcakes are little, delicious snack cakes that are popular due to their mobility and quantity control. They’re batter cakes cooked in a cup-shaped foil or heat-resistant paper.
What qualifies as a pastry?
The term “pastries” refers to a wide variety of baked goods created using components such as flour, sugar, milk, butter, shortening, baking powder, and eggs. Pastries are a synecdoche for little tarts and other sweet baked goods. Pies, tarts, quiches, croissants, and pasties are all common pastry dishes.
What is difference between pastry and dessert?
2. Forms and Flavors: Another distinction between cakes and pastries is their shapes and flavors. Cakes: This dish comes in a variety of forms, the most common and popular of which are round, square, and rectangle. Pastries, on the other hand, take the traditional triangular or rectangle form.
Is pie a cake or pastry?
Pie: a cooked pie having a top and bottom of pastry dough that has been flattened flat and moulded into a round or square form. The filling, which might be sweet or savory, covers the crust.
Why is cake not a pastry?
In general, if someone asks you what the difference between cake and pastry is, you may say: A cake is a baked item produced with leaveners, flour, fat, and sugar, while a pastry is a dough paste created mostly with flour and fat.
Can cakes be called pastries?
To put it simply, all pastries are cakes, but not all cakes are pastries. The key distinction is that cakes include a variety of healthful components, while pastries have just a few.
What are the 4 basic pastries?
List of 5 Flaky Pastry Dough Types. Flaky pastry, which is delicate and easy to produce, is used for sweet or savory meals that bake fast, such as pie crust.
Shortcrust… Puff… Choux… Filo…
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What are the 7 types of pastries?
… 18th of October, 2022 … Shortcrust pastry from Shutterstock. Tatiana Goskova … Hot water crust pastry from Shutterstock. Pimborough, David Here’s a primer on pastry 101: the many varieties, techniques, and creations you can make by (not so simply) combining flour and grease.
Choux is a kind of pastry.
Filo pastry. Rough puff pastry. Viennoiserie. Puff pastry. Africa’s Fresh Beginnings
What are the 5 basic pastries?
Shortcrust pastry, filo pastry, choux pastry, flaky pastry, and puff pastry are the five fundamental forms of pastry dough (a cuisine that mixes flour and fat).
Are donuts a pastry?
The doughnut is one of America’s most beloved delicacies. It is presently seeing a renaissance as more specialty doughnut shops open around the country, providing unusual taste combinations.