What Happens When You Boil Cake Batter?

Can you boil cake batter to cook it? #whathappens wednesday, yo! Let's find out!

On the one hand, the answer to this question is obvious, right? Cakes have to be baked, so boiling is impossible, wrong, and gross. Obviously...?

But think about it.

There's more than one way to make a cake. There's the classic way--baked--of course. But if you think about it, it's also possible to fry cake (cake batter pancakes? Funnel cake? Helloooo). And it's also possible to steam one--aren't baked puddings basically steamed cakes? 

So why not at least try boiling cake batter before dismissing it? That's what I did.


I was baking up a batch of homemade Hostess-style cupcakes and I had a little batter left; I decided it was the right time for my experiment. So I set up a pot of water and brought it to a rolling boil...

and then I dripped a spoonful of batter into the boiling water.

At first, the batter stuck together and began to float a little, like homemade pasta would.

I began to feel hope. I began to have fantasies of little gnocchi-like pillows of cake that I could snack on. This might be the next big thing! I spent several moments dreaming of how to combine "cake" and "gnocchi" into a clever word like Cronut. 

But then, things began to change quickly. The cake batter started to spread a little bit. It began to look like little amoeba in the water.

I let the batter boil for about 1 minute total, then I used a spoon to remove it. I did this with four separate portions of batter.

ut of the four spoonfuls I dropped in the pot, only two remained cohesive. They were gooey and delicate. Here's what they looked like.

 the other two had pretty much evaporated into the  water, giving a very not right look. 

Now, I won't lie...those little blobs of boiled cake didn't look too excellent.

And while they did "set" slightly, they remained too soft to handle and gooey. 

Unfortunately, I can't give you a happy ending on this story, either: they were snot-like in texture, and tasted (surprise!) like watered down and waterlogged cake. It was not the finest moment in baking. 

What this experiment was, however, was interesting and informative. I feel like I now have an idea of why cakes are steamed instead of boiled: because the indirect contact to the moisture allows them to more slowly "set" as they cook. In boiling water, the batter was too thin to set up sufficiently before it began to disintegrate. 

And furthermore, I feel very secure in that baking really is a superior way to prepare a cake. It's good to challenge things that we have always just accepted, though, right?

And yes, flavor-wise, I suggest we both stick to a classic baked version of chocolate cake next time. 

Have you ever prepared cake in an unexpected way?