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To Sift or Not to Sift?

· Posted by Kirsten,Kitchen Science

Cake recipes always call for sifting the dry ingredients. Our question was "does it really matter"? Sifting is a bit of a pain to be honest and, not being much of a baker, something I have rarely bothered to do. Once again, the amazing Jen Sullivan put together a great online, interactive activity to investigate this question.

We started with dividing all the ingredients in two so that Fiona sifted the dry ingredients into one bowl and Trevor just dumped the dry ingredients in the other (much like we usually do). Right away, we noticed differences. The sifted batter was stickier, thicker and darker.

Next we poured the batter into identical round pans (one labelled "sifted" so we could tell them apart) and popped them in the oven as per the recipe instructions. When they came out, we noticed that the sifted one was still a bit darker. Once they cooled a bit, we cut small pieces and tasted them. The sifted cake was a bit more dense with a more consistent texture and a richer chocolate flavour.

While the kids did their online music lessons, I whipped up some icing and frosted the cake. They got to decorate it (because sprinkles always make a cake tastier!) and we enjoyed it for desert.

Here's a photo of a slice of the cake - can you tell whether the sifted one was on the top or the bottom?

This experiment was inspired by/adapted from The Science of Cooking by Dr. Stuart Farrimond.

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