Dessert lovers enjoy their fair share of cookies and cake. Oddly enough, these two desserts are made of vastly similar ingredients, but the end-product is quite different. It calls into question, what is the difference between a cookie mix and a cake mix?
Cookies and cake mix include fat, flour, sugar, and eggs. Cookies have a much thicker consistency, forming a dough that you can place, drop, spread on a tray, or make shapes out of in little amounts. In contrast, cakes have more liquids, so the mix is essentially a batter that you can pour.
This article dives into the difference between cookies and cake mixes in detail. It also answers an essential question that baking enthusiasts generally have. Stay tuned!
Components of Cookies vs. Cake Mix
The different consistencies of cookies and cake are due to varying ratios of ingredients that go into them. Let’s look at all components and see what proportion goes into making each dessert.
Different Amounts of Liquid
Cake mixes comprise a high amount of liquids, including milk and water. These bind the ingredients together, forming a batter that can be poured directly into a baking pan. It also creates bubbles, ensuring that the cake turns out airy, soft, and fluffy.
It’s also worth noting that using fats isn’t necessary to make a cake mix, but it helps.
Cookies are derived from cakes and sweetened bread, but the mix has less liquid content. A cookie’s mix primarily consists of fats, including vegetable oil and softened butter, as well as eggs. These elements bind the dry ingredients to form a dough that the baker can place, drop, or spread in a pan in small amounts.
The fats in a cookie mix don’t evaporate but remain part of the batter. Also, they are responsible for coating the flour particles. So they basically seal in the starch to give the cookie its shape.
Leavening Amounts Are Different
A leaven is a substance used to expand batter or dough. Baking powder, baking soda, and yeast are elements included in this category. A cake mix has a higher amount of leavening than a cookie mix because a cake is supposed to rise more than a cookie.
On the other hand, the latter is required to have a denser, more concentrated structure.
Proportion or Ratio of Ingredients
Even if you’re a beginner at baking, you’ve probably figured that the proportion or ratio of ingredients plays the most significant role in getting the end product you want. This article is the perfect guide to learning about the ingredients that go into cakes and cookies, along with their optimal ratios.
To sum it up, you’ll need a 1:1:1:1 ratio of fat to sugar to eggs to flour for cakes. Meanwhile, cookies have a 3:2:1 ratio of flour to fat to sugar. Easy enough to memorize, but not to bake, though!
Type of Flour
Cookie mixes always make use of all-purpose flour. They also utilize nut-based flours, including almond, hazelnut, or cashew. Cake mixes also use all-purpose flour, but they mostly have cake flour, which is lighter and gives the cake an airy texture.
Technique and Mixing Method
Of course, cookies and cake mixes go way beyond their components. The end product is highly dependent on how the baker handles and incorporates the ingredients. Let’s look at how making a cake mix differs from cookies.
A cookie mix mainly uses the creaming method that involves beating cream and granulated sugar together till you get a light, fluffy and consistent mixture. The extent of creaming and the amount of spread determines a cookie’s texture.
Thorough creaming ensures that the sugar dissolves completely and keeps the butter nicely aerated. Ultimately, it helps the baker achieve maximum spread. You can cream the butter and sugar less if you want a lesser spread.
Unlike cakes, there’s no need to alternate between wet and dry ingredients while making your cookie mix because a smaller amount of liquid goes into making cookies. Also, a cookie mix with a higher fat content than usual doesn’t require thorough creaming.
If you overbeat such a mix, you’ll end up with cookies that crumble easily.
Bakers can leaven a cookie mix using an agent such as baking soda or baking powder or with just air and steam. Gluten overdevelopment isn’t a huge issue if a cookie mix has high fat and low moisture content.
However, beware of over-mixing your dough because it will cause your cookies to turn out dense.
Cookie mixes are thick and, essentially, form a dough. So it’s not recommended for the baker to use an electric beater since it won’t be able to withstand the consistency of the dough. Although, you can use a motor specifically constructed to mix the dough.
Generally, though, a wooden spoon is used to mix ingredients for a cookie mix together. Once it turns into dough after adding sufficient flour, it becomes difficult to stir with a wooden spoon. Then the baker can knead it together.
A cookie mix containing eggs or liquid is folded gently but rapidly with flour to prevent gluten overdevelopment. For the same reason, mix-ins such as nuts or chocolate chips are folded in too.
The ingredients in cake mixes should be well-incorporated with each other, which requires the baker to mix all the ingredients with an electric beater. Also, cakes require much more finesse, so following the recipe you’re using to the dot is imperative.
There are many methods to make a cake mix. Let’s briefly go through some of the most popular ones.
The creaming method is the most popular one for making cake mixes. It involves incorporating a good amount of air into your cake batter, ensuring that it rises to the maximum. So you end up with a stable final product that’s still light and fluffy.
Reverse Creaming or Paste Mixing Method
The reverse creaming or paste mixing method is also commonly used by bakers for making a cake mix. It results in a sturdy, moist cake ideal for slicing and stacking. It involves blending room temperature butter and lukewarm liquids with the dry ingredients until a slight crumble form. The milk is added next, and the eggs go in last. This method gives a thicker cake.
This method is ideal if you’re using a pre-packaged cake mix or have included a higher liquid content in your batter. First, all the dry ingredients go into the mixing bowl. Then the liquids are added, one at a time.
Commercial kitchens use this method the most because it’s quick and gets the job done well.
Foam cakes, such as the angel food cake, are made using a unique mixing technique, i.e., the foam method. Here, the baker whips the egg whites to incorporate them with maximum air. Cream of tartar is added to this mix to add stability. Lastly, the baker gently folds in flour to increase the volume of the batter while keeping it perfectly aerated.
To make cookies of a specific flavor, you can throw in nuts, raisins, fruits, white or black chocolate chips, or other elements, without changing the recipe. A thick mix makes it easier to incorporate these elements.
On the other hand, a cake’s flavor and look come from different types of essence and food coloring.
Sometimes, they may incorporate lemon zest or nuts. The recipe for chocolate cake calls for reducing the amount of flour and replacing it with cocoa powder, so the recipe for cakes differs according to the flavor.
It’s also worth mentioning that a cookie mix has much less sugar than a cake mix because a cake mix incorporates more sugar for flavor. However, cookie mixes derive their sweetness from other items, such as chocolate.
Because of a cake mix’s flowy consistency, you cannot shape it by hand. The baker needs to have baking pans to create the shape they desire.
On the contrary, cookie mix can be dropped on top of a baking tray greased and lined with parchment paper. After that, the baker can spread them as they like. Some people also use ice cream scoops to get cookies of consistent proportion and shape.
Alternatively, for cookie mixes that form a tough dough, the baker must use their hands to shape them. They can also use cookie cutters to create shapes of their liking.
Can You Turn a Cake Mix Into a Cookie Mix?
Many bakers face the problem of having cake mix leftover, and they wonder if they can be innovative with it. Can they make cookies out of it instead of just making another cake or its derivatives, such as cupcakes or cake pops?
You can turn a cake mix into a cookie mix through trial and error. You need to add more eggs and oil to the cake batter. You can also add more flour to make it into a dough. Mix it nicely to get a thick and smooth consistency, shape it however you want, and bake to get fresh cookies.
There you have it, an absolute treat for baking enthusiasts. This article has a thorough rundown of cookies vs. cake mix. Despite the apparent differences, it’s exciting to know that you can turn cake mix into the cookie mix.