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    Why is Vinegar Used in Baking

    Today we’re going to be talking about a question I get all the time, why do you use vinegar in some of your cakes?

    I know… it may sound a little strange but vinegar is like a secret ingredient that adds a little extra magic to your cakes, and today we’re going to find out why!


    Vinegar has been used for centuries in cooking and baking. Its magical properties lie in the acetic acid it contains and when added to baking, vinegar is a game-changer, enhancing flavors, textures, and even contributing to the rise of our baked goods.

    Picture this: you’re preparing a cake, and you want it to be super fluffy and moist. Enter vinegar! So how exactly does its acidic nature help with this? Well there’s a few reasons!

    Vinegar helps with the rise of our baked goods

    Firstly, vinegar helps our baked goods rise and create an airy texture by reacting with baking soda. When vinegar reacts with baking soda, it creates carbon dioxide bubbles, which act as leavening agents.

    So as the batter bakes, these tiny bubbles expand, causing the cake to rise and giving it that light, airy texture we all love.

    Vinegar helps with creating a tender and moist crumb

    But it’s not just about the rise! Vinegar also helps in creating a tender and moist crumb in our baked goods.

    This is because the acidity of vinegar interferes with gluten development. Gluten is a protein that can make our baked goods tough when overworked, which is why you’ll often hear me talking about not overmixing your batter. By inhibiting gluten development, vinegar allows for a more delicate crumb and a soft, moist texture (e.g. my Oreo cake recipe pictured below uses a touch of vinegar to create a melt in your mouth crumb!). 

    oreo cake

    And It’s not just cakes that benefit from a touch of vinegar, but also biscuits, muffins, and even bread.

    So when it comes to bread, it’s the same concept – vinegar inhibits gluten formation which leads to a more relaxed and extensible dough, resulting in a less dense and chewy bread. On top of that, Vinegar can also enhance the browning of baked goods, and it also acts as a natural preservative, extending the shelf life of homemade bread. The acidic environment created by vinegar inhibits mold and bacteria growth, helping your bread stay fresh for longer.

    Homemade buttermilk substitute

    Here’s a fun fact: vinegar is often used to make homemade buttermilk by adding it to regular milk. This buttermilk substitute adds tanginess to baked goods and is perfect for recipes like pancakes and waffles. If you’re interested in learning how to make this buttermilk substitute, check out my blog post on how to make homemade buttermilk

    So there you go – the next time you bake, consider the magic of vinegar! Its ability to create lighter textures, tender crumbs, and improve browning is why people across the baking world embrace this simple yet powerful ingredient.


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    • Debbie

      Can i use vinegar when using baking powder instead of baking soda

      • Cakes by MK

        Hi Debbie! Yes you still can use a little vinegar even when baking soda isn’t used 🙂

    • Ray

      first time learning about vinegar use in baking. how do you determine the amount to use if its not listed?

      • Cakes by MK

        Hi Ray! 🙂 I usually use about 1/2 tsp per cup of flour as a general rule. If the recipe already uses acidic ingredients (like lemon or yoghurt) then you may not need to add additional vinegar 🙂

    • Young-Jin Miller

      I’ve made your Oreo cake and even though I believe I overcooked it, it still came out moist and delicious so vinegar for the win!! I received so many compliments thank you for sharing!

      • Cakes by MK

        Awesome!! So so happy to hear you loved it Young-Jin 🙂

    • Michelle

      Hi, I couldn’t find white vinegar, how can I substitute it with for the zebra cake recipe? Can I skip it or replace it with lemon or apple cider vinegar?

      • Cakes by MK

        Hi Michelle! I haven’t tried a substitute myself so can’t say for sure if it’ll work sorry, but I imagine lemon juice would work fine, apple cider may be a little too strong. Otherwise you can just skip it 🙂

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    About me

    Welcome to my blog! My name is Maryam and I LOVE baking! :) I hope to provide you with the tools (i.e. simple, from-scratch, quality tested recipes), so that you can confidently bake up delicious treats to share with your family and friends!

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