What is Batter Mixing?
Batter mixing is a process in which basic cake ingredients are mixed to form a smooth, aerated and semi-fluid mass that can be poured or deposited into pans.
Batter mixing is quite different from dough mixing. This is because the water, fat, sugar and egg levels are much greater in cake than in bread formulations, resulting in a totally different system after mixing.
How does it work?
Unlike bread systems where dough development is the main objective, the goal in batter mixing is to form a stable and viscous oil/water emulsion that incorporates air in the form of finely dispersed gas cells.
A batter is considered a multi-phase mixture. Water-soluble solids such as salts, egg proteins, chemical leaveners and sugars are located in the aqueous phase of the emulsion where flour particles are colloidally suspended. Poorly soluble and very unstable air molecules are typically entrapped in the fat phase.
Typical batter composition
|Sugar||>100.0 (high-ratio cakes)
<100.0 (low-ratio cakes)
|Total hydration (from liquid whole eggs and water)||100.0–130.0*|
There are several batter mixing methods used in the production of cakes. The most relevant ones include:
- Single stage (all-in)
Each mixing method has its own specifications, advantages and disadvantages. The following table summarizes these methods:1
|Processing (order of ingredient addition)||
Shorter mixing time
Quick and simple processing
|All dry materials are handled in one stage
Reduces the chance of lumps of flour and/or
|Excellent aeration of batter
Finer cells when emulsifiers are not available
Best option if volume is the primary goal
|Increased cake tenderness (gluten development is limited by fat coating)
Able to use stronger and higher protein flours
Best option if tenderness and mouthfeel are the primary goal
|Widely used in high-speed operations
Automated processing (air injection, temperature, dwell time, production rate)
Real-time control of SG
|Disadvantages||Long mixing times
Higher changes of scaling errors
Curdling risks (phase separation) due to liquids being added to quickly
|Long mixing times||Long mixing times||High capital costs|
Undermixing effect on batter (high specific gravity):2
Overmixing effect on batter (low specific gravity):2
Batter mixing equipment
Batters can be mixed with the same equipment used for bread dough mixing (e.g. vertical mixer, spiral mixer). The only change that is needed is the attachment or beater. Instead of an arm or hook (used to developed gluten), a wire whip and/or paddle are used. These provide a blending and stirring pattern that provide the correct mixing conditions to create the batter.
Mixing time of batter is governed by the extent of air incorporation (aeration). Reaching a given specific gravity (SG) during mixing takes time, and each type of cake requires a batter with a unique SG or aeration level.
Batter temperature after mixing should be in the range of 68–72°F (20–22°C). Cold batter temperatures are very helpful during batter mixing for 2 reasons:
- Lower temperatures provide stability to the batter emulsion by increasing viscosity (shortening becomes thicker at lower temperatures). Higher viscosities create more resistance to the movement of gas bubbles trying to escape from the batter system.
- Lower temperatures increase the solubility of gases dissolved in the batter (according to Henry’s Law). This helps retain gas bubbles as much as possible (both air and carbon dioxide released from chemical leavening reactions).
As a general rule, the higher the rotation speed, the faster and greater the aeration. Higher RPM can be used to achieve a certain SG value in a shorter mixing time.
- Tireki, S. “Technology of Cake Production.” Food Engineering Aspects of Baking Sweet Goods, CRC Press Taylor & Francis Group, LLC, 2008, pp. 149–155.
- Bennion, E.B., and Bamford, G.S.T. “Cake-making Processes.” The Technology of Cake Making, 6th edition, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht, 1997, pp. 251–260.