Cake Textures: The Differences Between Dense and Fluffy Cakes


Learn more about what exactly the difference is between a dense and a fluffy cake and why it’s classified as such.

What Makes A Cake Dense VS Fluffy?

Here’s what makes a cake dense vs fluffy. If using a fat within a batter and you cream it, it will create air within the batter once whisked making the cake fluffier and lighter. Butter, eggs, and flour in a recipe can make a cake denser depending on the amount added and the method used.

When you put a cake in the refrigerator, it becomes firm. This happens because butter solidifies when chilled. It is known that creating a batter with butter will usually be denser than if you were to use oil. Oil makes the cake to be moist. 

Mixing can play a factor of how dense the cake gets. Also depending on the type of flour used, mixing can make a cake more dense especially if using all-purpose flour.

You do have to be careful when mixing especially if you want a tender cake, you risk the cake becoming too dry, dense, and rubbery. Taking into consideration the amount of protein in the flour that you’re using will make all the difference in the texture whether you want it dense or fluffier.

You can read more about cake flour in this article and how it affects a cake batter.

The combination that you use in a recipe will determine the type of cake you get once you make it. For example, if you were to swap butter for oil and tried to mix it together with sugar it wouldn’t become fluffy nor would it combine well. In that case, you would need to whisk the egg first so the cake has a chance to become fluffier.

What Makes A Cake Chewy?

The order in which you add ingredients to a batter will affect how chewy your cake is. Plus, depending on the ingredients included will also affect how dense it turns out. It’s important to follow the recipe as is. If it states to mix eggs and sugar together, mix it until it’s fluffy and has a whitish color. 

Not mixing your cake batter properly or following the instructions can cause your cake to be dense and chewy.

Here are a few things to do to avoid having a chewy cake

Putting too much sugar 

Having an unequal amount of sugar in comparison to flour or other liquids that the recipe calls for can cause a cake to be possibly too chewy and alter the texture. Using less sugar can help a cake be less chewy and fluffier.

The right amount of baking soda

Using a proper amount of baking soda or baking powder can make all the difference in the texture of your cake. The general rule is to use about one teaspoon for every cup of flour. You want to be mindful of not using too much because it could affect the cake and may not rise or come out the way you want it to come out.

The way you mix the ingredients in the recipe can affect the texture of the cake. Mixing the batter by hand when you’re adding the flour and adding it little by little allows you to control how the batter is developing. Even sifting your flour can make all the difference. 

Another tip is not to mix the wet and dry ingredients together until you officially heated the oven. So the leavening agent doesn’t get a chance to activate before it’s ready to be in heat. 

What Makes A Cake Too Fluffy?

The method that makes cakes too fluffy is creaming your butter and sugar together for as long as you can in minutes. Usually over 2 minutes. This will leave you with a very light and fluffy cake. Also swapping your all-purpose flour for cake flour will give you a moist and lighter cake.

It has less protein and does really well with mixing without creating as much gluten. The type of cakes that are usually fluffy is sponge cakes and chiffon cakes. Oil-based cakes also tend to be very fluffy and moist. 

Having a runny oil-based batter for a chocolate cake can result in a very light and moist. It’s such a great combination.

Are Dense Cakes Better?

Dense cakes are better depending on if you enjoy a richer and dense texture. This type of cake tends to keep you fuller and is known to be heavy. Chocolate cakes are known to be very rich and dense but delicious. Dense cakes can be hard to eat especially if you had a full meal before. 

There are some people that may prefer a lighter cake for the main reason that the cake doesn’t make you feel as full and it’s easier to eat after a meal. And work really well at dinner parties for that reason.

Dense cakes come in a variety and are easier to make. It’s very popular amongst kids and the family dynamic.

There are some cakes that are butter-based and dense and they have good structure and are strong cakes that do really well in the fridge. They tend to taste even better the next day. And last longer than fluffier, lighter cakes.

Both types of cakes are good but you’ll find that even just researching online people tend to favor having a lighter and fluffier cake. Dense cakes can have a bad rep because of it not baking and making the cake correctly.

If not done right a dense cake can end up being not as good and sometimes not eatable. But if a dense cake is done right it can be the best thing you ever had, enjoying the heaviness and richness that comes with it. 

What Cakes Are Supposed To Be Dense?

The type of cakes that are usually dense are cheesecakes, brownies, chocolate cakes, fruitcakes, some sponge cakes, especially the old-fashioned ones. Dense cakes aren’t always dry, chewy, and not eatable. If done right it can be very flavorful, very rich and moist. The only difference is these type of cakes have more structure, more weight and makes you feel more satisfied longer. 

Cheesecakes

When making cheesecake the custom is it needs to be thick and have a very smooth strong structure. This is done by using cream cheese and butter and beating them together until it’s smooth. Do make sure to have it at room temperature.

Eggs are what makes the cheesecake. It’s what makes the texture giving it that light and fluffy feel. Once baked it should have a custard-like consistency if it’s spongy you have overbaked your cheesecake. Once it’s chilled that’s the best part.

Brownies

The goal of brownies is you want to have a good dense consistency while being gooey. So you don’t need to add more fats in order to get a nice dense consistency. Adding too many fats will cause the brownies to have a more cakey feel.

Unlike making other cake base recipes gluten development is really important here you want the brownie batter to create a structure so that it has a nice strong foundation while being chewy. It’s not suggested to mix it with an electric mixer it’s better to mix it by hand so it doesn’t create air pockets as if you’re making a cake. 

Chocolate cake

For some people, the only goal is to get a nice dense gooey chocolate cake and most will use no flour in the cake in order to achieve that. But If making a regular chocolate cake the goal is to get it to be the right consistency, a mix of moisture but have structure while being rich.

The main thing that you want to make sure of is that the recipe doesn’t have too much sugar which can lead to releasing too much liquid and making the cake too moist and dense (not in a good way!).

Using an oil-based cake helps the cake to be moist but can cause the cake to have a weak structure if you’re looking for a more solid cake use the butter-based creaming method to create this result especially when you decide to chill it. It will be more solid than if it’s just an oil-based cake. 

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