Differences between Cake and Bread
Cakes and breads can be quite similar. They are both carbohydrate heavy foods that must be baked in order to be eaten. Despite their similarities, there are also some major differences between the two. The first is in the ingredients used to prepare both. A bread, like a cake, will include flour as its primary ingredient. However, it also includes a leavening agent, usually yeast.[i] Other ingredients found in a bread could also include salt, water, corn syrup, or even a small amount of oil. These same ingredients could potentially also be used in a cake but a cake might also include eggs, sugar, milk, flavored syrups or cocoa.[ii] This means that a cake will usually have the addition of a protein source as well as a sweetener. Also, cakes tend to also have frosting as a topping, which is something that a bread would lack.
The preparation process for a cake and a bread are also difference. When making a bread, you would generally mix together all of the ingredients-a bare minimum of flour, water, and yeast. The yeast will require activation (unless you use a self-activated yeast), which means that you must first mix it in warm water. This is a particularly tough step because the water temperature must be just right. If it is too warm, it will kill the yeast, but if it is too cold, it will not activate enough which would cause the bread not to rise. Once the yeast is activated, you can mix it with the other ingredients. Getting the amount of water right is also important as it can vary with the humidity level in any location, but once the bread starts coming together that is an indication that you have added enough water. After mixing it, the bread should set for just a couple of minutes to let the gluten form, which is what gives it a chewy texture, and after this the bread will require kneading on flat surface. This is arguably the most important step in the preparation of bread and it will require constant kneading for at least 5-10 minutes. Once the bread is well kneaded, it will need to rise for approximately 3 hours. It should be covered and in a warm, but not hot, location. After this length of time, you will want to knead it again really quickly and then return it for a second rise for a length of 90 minutes. This step can be skipped, but allowing for a second rise will give it a lighter texture. Finally, you can form the dough into the bread-shape of your choosing and being baking it.[iii]
When preparing a cake from scratch, like bread, you must first mix the ingredients together. However, this is a graduated process. First, start with the butter or oil and sugar. These must be mixed together for about three to five minutes until they become light, fluffy and creamy. Once they reach that stage, you must add the eggs one at a time. They act as an emulsifier to the batter and it is better if they are at room temperature as cold eggs will appear curdled. Then you will add the powdered ingredients (typically a mixture of flour, baking powder and salt) and milk. Start with half the powder mixture, let it mix in for a bit, then add the milk, mix it for a bit, and finally add the rest of the powder mixture. Doing it like this will create a smoother, more integrated batter and will ensure that there are no dry pockets. Finally, you may pour it into a cake pan and bake it for the necessary amount of time. A good rule of thumb is that it will be done when a toothpick can be inserted in the center of the cake and will be clean when it is pulled out.[iv] Once it cools, frosting or icing can be added to the cake for decoration and enhanced flavor. There can be minor variations to this process for both cake and bread, but in general, this is the basic process for both and it is marked by very different features.
Since the ingredients are different for both a cake and bread are very different, their taste is quite different as well. The most notable difference would be the level of sweetness. Cake is much sweeter due to the sugar. Additionally, bread is often much more chewy than cake because of the gluten content found in bread but not cake.[v]
Again, because of the differences in ingredients, the nutritional value of both bread and cake varies greatly. The average amount of calories in a regular piece of bread would be approximately 69. This is in stark contrast to cake, which would typically contain about 235 calories per slice if frosted.[vi] This is an almost fourfold increase.
When it is eaten
Bread, in some form, is eaten in almost all cultures around the world and it almost always holds a position as a more significant food source. Essentially, it is considered a staple food because it is a common item that is consumed regularly, if not daily, by most individuals. Because of its richness, cake is a dietary item that is usually only consumed occasionally, often as a dessert. Many cultures even reserve cake for special occasions such as festivals, birthdays or holidays such as New Years and Christmas. Though it is possible to eat it more regularly, this should be done cautiously as the amount of sugar could lead to health risks as with any unhealthy food.[vii]
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[ii] Basic cake ingredients. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.craftybaking.com/learn/baked-goods/cakes/ingredients
[iv] Huff, T. (2015, October 29). How to make a cake from scratch. Retrieved from http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-a-cake-from-scratch-224370
[v] How to make bread. (n.d.). On WikiHow. Retrieved from http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Bread