Cakes have long been a culinary symbol of pleasure and conviviality. A perfect cake has the right balance of ingredients which all have a role to play. Before you begin, it’ important to understand the roles that sugar and butter play in the structure of a cake.
What does Sugar Do?
In many desserts, such as pies, tarts and even muffins, sugar is added mainly for flavour. But sugar plays other unsuspected roles in cakes that make it almost irreplaceable.Incorporate air bubblesWhen butter is creamed with sugar (the first step in making many cakes), the friction of sugar crystals against the butter traps thousands of air bubbles that will form cells in the cake’ interior during baking. So don’t skip this part.Ensure tendernessSugar prevents proteins naturally present in flour from joining together and forming an elastic network (gluten) when the flour is mixed with liquid.Add volumeA cake’ height comes not only from air bubbles incorporated at the time of beating, or from leavening agents. One of sugar’ unsuspected functions is it allows batter to rise even higher. How? In fact, sugar increases the temperature at which the batter begins to solidify during baking. The batter remains liquid longer, which allows steam and gas from leavening agents (carbon dioxide in baking powder) to rise even higher. If you reduce the amount of sugar too much, the batter will solidify faster and will expand less in the oven so you will end up with a flat, dense cake.CrustFinally, sugar is essential to the formation of a beautiful golden crust, thanks to two reactions: caramelization and the Maillard reaction, which provides cakes with a lot of flavour.
Remember, everything in moderation. Just like the perfect cake your diet needs to be balanced too.