Cake Vs Pastry

When you first start out on your baking journey, it can be confusing to learn all the nuanced differences between baked goods.  One of the things that people seem to struggle with the most is the difference between cakes and pastries. 

Both cake and pastry are considered to be a sweet dessert. However, there is a difference between cake and pastry. In this article, we will look at what separates these two baked foods and how to tell the difference.

Cake Vs Pastry: Differences And Similarities

One of the most important differences between cake and pastry is the ingredients that are used to make them. When making a cake, you will need baking powder/baking soda, eggs, sugar, cake flour, and milk.

When you are making pastry, you will need pastry flour, water, and butter. You will also need sugar if you are making sweet pastry.

Another area where we can spot the cake and pastry difference is in the composition. Cake batter is often patted and has a compact mass. Pastry dough on the other hand is mostly a layered dough. This is especially true for puff pastry.

The shapes that you will make with the different products. When you are making soft baked cakes, you can make them in different shapes that you want, although they tend to be bigger.

The most common shape for cakes such as carrot cake, sponge cake, and birthday cake is a round shape. When you are making pastries, the size is likely to be smaller.

Any recipe for pastry includes individual pastries. Pastries can be made in various shapes including triangular shapes or even a rectangular shape. Danish pastries can also be swirled or braided sweet treats.

What Is A Cake?

The official definition of cake describes these baked products as soft, sweet food, made from a mixture of eggs, sugar, shortening, wheat flour, and other ingredients. They are often decorated.

The other ingredients will include baking soda or baking powder, seasonal flavorings, and additional items such as fruit for a fruit cake. These baked dishes are often used at celebrations in different cultures.

Cakes are often made in baking pans and are typically baked for around 30 minutes to an hour. You can use special cake flour to make cakes, however, any soft-quality wheat flour will do.

What Is A Pastry?

The official definition of pastry describes these baked products as a mix of flour dough, shortening, and water. It is typically formed into a flat round shape and used as a base and covering for baked dishes such as pies.

All types of pastry, including puff pastry, short crust pastry, and filo pastry can be used for savory food and a sweet dessert. If you are making a sweet dessert, you should make a sweet pastry. Pastries, especially individual pastries are typically baked in around 10 to 15 minutes.

Both cake and pastry can be made with various flavors. It is possible to make pastry using pastry flour, however, any soft-quality wheat flour will work fine.

Cake Vs Pastry

Is A Cupcake A Pastry?

One of the most common things that new bakers get confused about is whether a cupcake is a pastry. The source of confusion comes from the similarities in the size of the baked dishes.

However, a cupcake is not a pastry. This is because it is made with cake batter and not pastry dough. A cupcake is essentially the same as a cake, using the same ingredients, just in a smaller size.

What’s The Difference Between Batter And Dough?

We have established that cake and pastry are very different things that produce different baked dishes. We have also talked about the differences between soft baked cakes and flaky pastries.

However, the differences begin when you are making the cake batter or the pastry dough.

Let’s start with cake batter. As a whole, the batter is made with eggs, sugar, cake flour, shortening, and a leavening agent.

It is the leavening agent, such as baking powder or baking soda that sets batter apart from pastry dough. The cake batter is also often wetter than the consistency of pastry dough.

Pastry dough on the other hand is made with just pastry flour, shortening, yeast, and water. The dough may also include sugar if it is for making a sweet pastry. Pastry doughs also need a little more care and attention to be made well.

To be a great pastry chef, you need to have naturally cold hands or be able to keep them cool. This will help you make the best pastry dough.

Another important difference when making cake and pastry baked goods is the manner in which the batter or dough is changed to make different baked products.

When you are making different cakes such as fruit cake or sponge cake, the basic ingredients and general recipe are used to make the batter mix. You simply have to add other ingredients to create various flavors. If you want a fruit taste or to make a fruit cake, you can add fruits or extracts to your general recipe.

When it comes to making different pastry doughs, bigger changes are needed. You will start with the same general recipe for pastry dough, using pastry flour, butter, yeast, and water, but you will form it differently.

A great example to use is puff pastry. For puff pastry, it is important to place the butter in the middle of the dough paste and keep folding the dough and gently rolling it. This process creates the signature puffiness of puff pastry.

In the baking world, puff pastry is generally considered to be one of the hardest pastries to make from scratch. If you want to make crumbly shortcrust pastry, this is an easier starting point. Simply keep your hands cold and the crumbly texture will come naturally.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of similarities between cake and pastry. Whichever of these baked foods you are looking to make, you will end up with delicious sweet baked foods that will impress your friends and family.  

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Kathryn Sewell

Hi! I'm Kate and I have been baking and cooking for as long as I can remember. I like to share the most interesting tips and recipes I try here on What Kate Baked for you to enjoy. If you have a favorite recipe you'd like to share send it over on social.

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