Dough and batter may look the same to you, especially if you’re just a beginner baker. They’re both made from different kinds of flour and water as well as salt, eggs, and so on, but they’re definitely different from one another. So what is the difference between dough and batter, exactly?
Well, that’s what we’ll find out in this article! Keep on reading as we find out how batter and dough are distinct from each other. We’ll also take a closer look at the different types of dough and batter.
Without further ado, let’s get to it!
*Note: This article was originally published back on April 29, 2018. It’s been updated today, February 27, 2023.
- Batter and dough are both mixtures consisting of flour, liquid, and other ingredients that are used for cooking and baking a variety of dishes, both sweet and savory. That’s the reason it might be hard to tell them apart.
- One way to tell them apart is that batters are thin and have eggs, while dough doesn’t have to have eggs and is thicker, meaning it is made for shaping.
- Batter can be used for cooking and baking, while dough is for baking only.
- There are different types of dough and of batter – each one has a purpose, depending on what you’re trying to make.
What is batter?
Batter is a mixture of flour, liquid, and other ingredients (such as baking powder) that chefs use in both cooking and baking. Batter is achieved by beating the mixture or mixing it with an electric mixer, a hand mixer, or a whisk until it is smooth. The consistency is thicker than liquid but thinner than that of dough.
What is dough?
Dough, just like batter, consists of flour, liquid, and other dry ingredients such as salt, sugar, and yeast. When you mix them together, you’ll get a mass that you can shape to your liking via rolling or kneading. Unlike the batter, you do not mix these together with an electric mixer, unless you’re using an industrial-grade stand mixer since the dough is too thick.
You’ll usually use your hands in combination with a wooden spoon to do the mixing. And once the dough is mixed and kneaded, it’s usually left to rise. The yeast inside the flour acts as the leavening agent, fermenting the sugars in the dough, and producing carbon dioxide gas that makes the dough expand and become lighter.
You can then use the dough to make pizzas, croissants, cookies with chocolate chips, or bread like your Pinoy bakery favorites.
Doughs and batters: the differences
How is dough different from batter? Here’s a quick glance:
And here are more in-depth details for you:
- To make dough, you only need a small amount of water or other liquid. Batter, on the other hand, is made more from liquid than flour.
- The consistencies of the two are also different. Dough is more elastic and can be shaped, while batter is more fluid and can be poured.
- Dough is kneaded and rolled to prepare it, while batter is whisked or beaten.
- Batter is used for cakes and muffins. Dough is used foir bread, flatbread, noodles and pasta.
I hope that helps you really tell the difference! But did you also know that there are different kinds of dough AND different kinds of batter? Each one has a different purpose.
Let’s go through them.
What are the different types of batters?
Here are the terms that culinary experts or instructors use to describe batters:
Pour batters are batters that contain ⅔ to 1 cup of water per 1 cup of flour. That means it’s a batter that has a watery consistency. Examples of uses for this batter are pancakes, crepes, and waffles.
Drop batters do not contain much liquid. The usual proportion is ½ cup to ⅔ cup of water for every cup of flour. Products you can make with drop batters are biscuits, scones, and muffins.
Coating batters are wet food coatings that are used to prepare items for frying or grill cooking. This particular type of batter is usually a mixture of liquid and flour, but some chefs also add eggs and other ingredients to increase the batter’s flavor. Food that you use with coating batters are beer-battered cod, tempura vegetables, and onion rings.
Cake batter is technically a drop batter, but I feel that this category deserves its own section. After all, this IS The Bailiwick Academy – and that means cake batter is the most common and popular to any aspiring chef. And of course, there’s cake flour in this!
The great thing about cake batter is that you can use it for different kinds of cakes. Here are some that the pro bakers have already done:
- Butter or oil cakes – batter for butter cakes contain some kind of fat (i.e. butter or oil) as well as baking powder to make the cakes rise. These kinds of cakes have a light and airy crumb, but not quite as light as that of a sponge cake.
- Sponge and foam cakes – the batter for these cakes do not contain any kind of fat, and they’re also unleavened. For volume, you whip eggs or egg whites. The air incorporated in that act expands during baking, and as a result, the cakes rise on their own, even without baking powder. Do take note that this is a very technical process. The success of this method depends on not deflating the eggs after whipping them. For a higher chance of success, dry ingredients are usually sifted over and gently folded in, and fat is often avoided, as it would weigh down the foamy batter.
- Low- or No-Flour Cakes – cakes made without or very little flour. They have a creamy or silky texture. Examples of these are cheesecakes and flourless chocolate cakes.
What are the different types of dough?
Let’s move on to doughs, and the differences between dough. There are two general kinds.
- Stiff dough – Stiff doughs are 1 part water to 4 parts of flour. The most popular kind of bread that uses stiff dough is sourdough.
- Soft dough – Soft dough is composed of 1 part water and 3 parts flour. It’s more viscous compared to stiff dough, but it’s still not liquid enough to be considered batter. Products you can make with soft dough are bread rolls, empanadas, and pandesal.
However, there are more specific types of doughs depending on the use, such as:
Pizza dough consists mainly of all-purpose flour with yeast and water added to add fluffiness to the bread. The thin crust variety has a lesser yeast content and has been pressed to produce a flatter crust.
It’s a dough composed of dough and butter or other solid fat, and is used to make flaky and light pastries, such as croissants, strudels, and turnovers. The butter is put inside the dough, making a paton which is repeatedly folded and rolled out before baking so that the butter can be in layers in between the dough. And as it bakes, the butter melts, the water turns into steam and separates the layers of dough.
That gives the pastry its characteristic flaky layering.
Bread dough can be made with a variety of wheats and various amounts of water along with yeast. It needs to kneaded very well in order for gluten (protein) to be created so that a nice bread can be made. A different taste and of course a different texture can be given depending on what type of flour is used.
By the way, we have a whole class of making local breads! Don’t forget to check it out!
Noodles are made from unleavened dough that is stretched or rolled flat and cut into different kinds of shapes. The most common shape is the long strips that are used for dishes like ramen, japchae or pho. Noodles’ ingredients depend on the region, meaning they can be made from rice, buckwheat or even potato flour.
Your typical fresh, Italian-style pasta is made from a combination of eggs and flour. The eggs and flour are mixed into a stiff-but-pliable dough that’s kneaded, rested, and then rolled—usually through a machine—and cut into strips or other shapes.
Pasta is the younger brother of the Asian Noodle, although many believe that the origins of pasta is because of Marco Polo. Once it reached European shores, the process of making pasta dough was refined: durum wheat became the ingredient of choice for pasta flour because of its high gluten content and long shelf life, and was the locally abundant source for flour.
Doughs for flatbread are made with flour, water, and salt, then rolled until it’s flat. Most varieties are unleavened with the exception of pita bread which uses small amounts of leavener. Most flatbreads are also Middle Eastern in origin.
Pie dough has deep roots in history. People were searching for portable, easy-to-store, and long-lasting food, and thus the pie was created. Meats were easily covered in bread for better storage and transport.
Different doughs and batters: Final thoughts
I hope I was able to help you distinguish the differences between dough and batter, as well as what makes each kind distinct from one another! But if you really want to get used to the differences, you know what I suggest?
You should take up one of our courses at The Bailiwick Academy! There are plenty of bread, pastry, and cake classes to check out, even if you’re a beginner. And the more you practice baking delicious food, the more you’ll get used to the terms and the distinctions of dough and batter.
And rest assured that in our community, you’ll get plenty of tips and support for you to achieve baking and cooking success.
So what are you waiting for? Sign up at The Bailiwick Academy today!
Keep coming back to The Bailiwick Academy blog for more kitchen tips, tricks, and much more!