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Is it possible to make bread using similar batters/techniques as cakes? Or why isn't is possible to make breads using similar techniques or batters as a cake?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

To extend what GdD said, the reason why yeast raised breads and quick breads are so different comes down to gluten development.

Yeast raised breads have structure based on gluten, which is a protein created in wheat flours (due to enzymatic action on other proteins in the flour) over time in a moist environment, or when physically agitated. Gluten has a strong, elastic structure providing the toothsome bite typical of yeast raised breads. The techniques, which typically involve one or more of:

  • Long, slow fermentation by yeast--the physical raising of the dough not only leavens it, but also helps gluten development
  • Kneading, to enhance quicker gluten formation
  • So called autolysis, or allowing to set in cool conditions as a moist dough for slow gluten development without extra work from kneading

The result is a strong gluten structure, trapping gas bubbles, giving the charactaristic texture of breads.

Quick breads are the polar opposite. As a general class, they are intended to be tender and soft, not chewy and resilient. The "muffin method" used to create them intentionally minimizes gluten development by:

  • Not using yeast to raise the dough
  • Mixing a minimal amount to discourage gluten formation
  • Baking immediately (in most cases) after the batter is combined, in order to mininize gluten development from sitting time in moist conditions.

The result of course is a tender cake, bread, or muffin.

Typical cake techniques such as the creaming method also control gluten development by:

  • Pre-creaming the butter with sugar, and then adding the eggs prior to combining with flour. The fat/sugar phase then coats the flour particles minimizing their interaction, and discouraging gluten formation.
  • Cake batters, like quick bread batters, are not usually held, minimizing time for passive gluten formation

Each of these methods is tuned for the outcome desired, and they cannot easily be swapped.

That being said, there are quick breads which are less like the sweet cake like banana bread for example--the most iconic is probably Irish soda bread, but this does not change the general fact that yeast raised breads are a very different beast due to the gluten development. Still, they are their own beast, and not like a yeast raised bread.

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Thanks, that explains it – Divi Apr 27 '13 at 5:12

I'm assuming you mean yeast breads, not quick breads like cornbread and banana bread which are actually types of cakes. Cakes and yeast breads are fundamentally different, which is why the techniques are so different. Breads are supposed to be somewhat stretchy and denser then cakes, which is why they are a dough rather than a batter, and why they are kneaded by hand or dough hook. Cakes are supposed to be light and crumbly requiring them to be thinner and have air beaten into them (for some cakes). The recipes and techniques are very different for the two.

There are a few exceptions, for example brioche is typically made in a mixer with a paddle blade, and is closer to a batter than a dough, this is only possible because it has so much butter in it and the texture is supposed to be more crumbly. There are also some no-knead bread recipes out there which are mixed more like cake batters.

So on the whole no, you cannot use the same techniques.

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Thanks for your help – Divi Apr 27 '13 at 5:13

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