Is Baking a Cake a Chemical Change or Physical Change

I would be lying to you if I said I was a scientist. I’d also be lying to you if I said I wasn’t absolutely fascinated with it. That said, I have spent plenty of time researching chemical and physical changes and can confidently state that baking a cake is a chemical change.

Hey, there! My name is Michelle and I am a home baker that’s been mixing, whirring, and creating for the past ten years. During my time of baking, I have learned that baking really is a science. I wanted to learn about the scientific aspect, which led me to this post.

If you have ever wanted to learn about whether baking a cake was a chemical or physical change, you’ve stumbled across the right post. Below, you will find plenty of information about how and why baking a cake is a chemical changenot a physical one.

Is Baking a Cake a Chemical or Physical Change?

When you bake a cake, you’re doing more than just crafting something delectable – you are also doing science. (Maybe this is a great way to teach some science to your kiddos out there?)

More specifically, you are creating a chemical change. That’s because baking a cake creates a chemical change. Why? Because a chemical change occurs when molecules (those found in cake ingredients) of more than one substance are combined, rearranged, and formed into a new substance entirely.

There are a few key indicators that prove a chemical change has occurred:

  • Change in the smell – Your baked cake smells much different than the batter you started with
  • It gives off or takes in heat – Your cake is baked in the oven, creating an endothermic reaction which means it takes in heat. (The other option is exothermic which gives off heat – both involved in chemical changes)
  • Gases being released – When your cake is baking, gases must release in order to create a lightweight, airy, and fluffy cake
  • Can’t go back to original form – Once your cake has been baked, it cannot be returned to its original form (separate flour, eggs, sugar, etc.)
  • Transformation – The biggest indicator of a chemical change is transformation. Clearly, your cake transforms from a thick batter to a light and fluffy cake after being baked, thus proving a chemical change has taken place

For those of you that want to learn more about the great world of science and chemical changes, you can read more about the indicators of a chemical change here.

Why Is Baking a Cake Not a Physical Change?

To understand why baking a cake is not considered a physical change, it’s important to understand what a physical change is. A physical change occurs when something the way something looks is altered, but the composition remains the same. 

Think of a physical change such as tearing paper. The paper has changed, but the molecules of the paper remain the same. It is also able to be put back together, although it may be challenging. But being able to return to the original form is a key indicator of a physical change. 

Looking to find out more about chemical changes and physical changes? Here is a great education website that goes into great detail about both.

FAQs

It’s pretty exciting to learn that you’re essentially doing a science experiment every time you engage in baking a cake. If you’re still curious about this query, then check out these frequently asked questions below.

What are the chemical changes in a cake?

Cakes undergo several chemical changes while mixing and baking, from the gluten formation to the browning and binding. One of the most interesting chemical changes is baking soda reacting with acids to create carbon dioxide, which is necessary for your cake to rise. 

Is baking muffins a physical change or chemical change?

Since muffins are made in a similar manner to cakes, it’s clear that muffin-making causes a chemical change rather than a physical change. Remember, muffins are transformed from batter and it is an irreversible process, making it a chemical change.

Is baking bread a chemical change?

Baking bread is also a chemical change. It starts with the batter being made, then allowing the dough to rise. From there, the bread is baked in an oven and transformed from a dough to a loaf of bread that can’t be reversed.  

Final Words

When it comes to baking a cake, you’re doing more than making a treat for your friends and family members. You’re creating a science experiment that results in a chemical change. That’s because cakes transform and are irreversible once baked, indicating a chemical change.

Did you know that baking a cake was a chemical change? Do you have anything interesting to add about this scientific topic? We love learning, so don’t hesitate to share in the comments below!

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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