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For a long time, people have been perplexed by the true meanings of cakes and pastries. I was likewise perplexed at the start of my baking adventure by the many interpretations of a cake and a pastry. I started out to discover the meanings of cake and pastry after a rapid dip into the expertise of various skilled bakers in my life.

A cake is a baked item created using leavening agents, flour, fat, and sugar, while a pastry is a baked food made with a flour and fat dough basis. Cakes are defined as anything that has been patted or compressed, while pastries are defined as stacked dough.

Although the distinction between a cake and a pastry may seem to be straightforward, the solution is not as straightforward as I had hoped. These two terms are used all around the globe, yet everyone interprets them differently. To comprehend the actual differences, a deeper dig is necessary.

Cake vs. Pastry: What’s the Difference?

Cake Pastry
Ingredients Baking powder/soda, wheat,
sugar, milk, eggs
Wheat, water, butter (fats)
Composition Patted and compact mass Mostly layered dough
Shapes All shapes, mostly bigger
Smaller shapes

People’s experiences with the phrases cake and pastry might impact how they define these terms.

A pastry chef, for example, who works in a restaurant, is in charge of creating everything sweet, from bread to cakes.

Both foods were prepared using the same components. Many people think of pastry as the term for a dessert. This is why, depending on how the words are written, a pastry might be considered a kind of cake. The components are what distinguishes the two.

Although I like doing my mixing by hand, I greatly prefer using a stand mixer. I just posted an article on the 3 Best Stand Mixers for Bakers at Every Stage of Their Baking Journey. After an examination of many stand mixers, the KitchenAid Artisan Tilt-Head Stand Mixer was named the Best Overall Mixer. This stand mixer is available on Amazon!

What exactly is a cake?

When I looked up what a cake is, this is what I found:

A baked and typically decorated soft, sweet dish prepared from a combination of flour, shortening, eggs, sugar, and other elements.


Other components in cakes include baking powder or baking soda, or both. These leavening chemicals used in cakes vary from those used in pastries.

Patted and shaped cakes form a compact mass. These may range from basic components put together and cooked in the oven to a complicated work of art that takes hours to create, such as wedding cakes.

*Side Note: If you’ve ever wondered what the difference between a sponge cake and a butter cake is. You may read about it in my essay here!

What I Think Of As A Cake

Cakes are utilized during special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. They are also commercially manufactured all over the globe for a variety of purposes.

*By the way, if you want to know how to remove stuck parchment off of your cake and how to avoid it, I just published an article on Removing Stuck Parchment Paper, which you can see here!

What exactly is a pastry?

When I looked up what a pastry is, this is what I found:

A flour, shortening, and water dough used as a foundation and coating in baked goods such as pies.


The term pastry may refer to either a baked food or a specific sort of dough. Puff pastry and filo pastry, for example, are both layers of dough that may be used to bake a variety of different items.

A pastry is a sweet treat that contains solid fats to enhance its attractiveness at room temperature. Butter, lard, and shortening are examples of solid fats at room temperature. To form the dough basis, these fats are combined with flour and a little amount of water.

This dough foundation is then stacked and fashioned into a tiny pastry form.

Pastries are distinct from cakes in that they include dough components rather than leavening ingredients. Yeast and fat are the constituents of this dough. Since pastries are high in fat, it enhances the texture and taste of the pastries.

Pastries may be fashioned into a flaky and delicate dessert, which is a delightful addition to them!

Cakes cannot do this because pastries require shortening or butter that is folded with layers of flour dough.

Combinations of dough. As this is baked, it swells up and becomes the pastry that we all like crunching on. This makes it an excellent choice for morning sweets. These layers are folded many times to produce staggered fat.

What I Think Of As Pastry

Similarities: Both cakes and pastries are treats prepared from flour and grease. These may be decorated and utilized for a variety of events, including birthdays and brunches.

Nevertheless, I’m sure no one will object if a cake or a pastry is presented on the table. I certainly wouldn’t!

*By the way, I just published an article titled The Best Ways to Bake Pastry Dough Without Using an Oven. This page discusses all of the many methods to cook your pastry dough if you don’t have an oven handy. This article may be found here!

Is this a pastry or a cake?

As previously said, the perception of cakes and pastries is influenced by how each person interprets it. But, after reading through the criteria and breaking them down for myself, I believe the above to be a pastry since it is formed from a dough basis.

I bought a set of baking sheets for myself, and they work well! On Amazon, you can get this Nonstick Cookie Sheet Set! I just discovered the Ideal Nonstick Cookie Sheets *By the way, if you’re searching for some new cookie sheets for your kitchen,

Is a cupcake a kind of pastry?

A cupcake, in general, is not considered a pastry. A cupcake is a little cake that is cooked in a small thin paper or aluminum cup and is intended to feed one person. A cupcake is often created using the same components as a cake, but in smaller amounts.

The term cupcake was given its name for a purpose. A cupcake is simply a little cup-sized cake made for individual serving. Some refer to it as a cake in a cup. Both have the same meaning.

A cupcake is considered a cake because it contains materials that would normally be used to prepare a cake. Yet, since it is often cooked in a tiny paper or aluminum cup, it is classified as a mini cake.

*By the way, I believe that appropriately decorating my cupcakes is the most critical step in presenting a perfect-looking cupcake. I have discovered a Complete Cupcake Decorating Kit that includes everything you need to design your cupcakes! This collection is available on Amazon!

What is the difference between batter and dough?

Overall, batter is made up of flour, shortening, eggs, sugar, and a leavening agent. Dough is created with just flour, shortening, yeast, and water, with no dry leavening additives like baking powder or baking soda used in cakes.

Cake batter is often wetter than the doughy batter used in pastries. Pastry batter typically comprises simply water as a wet component, but cake batter incorporates a variety of liquid ingredients, including eggs, oil, and, in some cases, milk.

This is one of the key distinctions between cake batter and pastry dough.

*Side Note: You may also be interested in learning how to properly store cake batter. I created an article on Storing Cake Batter Correctly, which you can read here!

In conclusion

Cakes and pastries are considered baking necessities. I used to wonder what the difference was between the two when I first began baking. Yet, as I discovered when I first began baking, the answer to this question is mainly in the eye of the beholder!