Fudgey, Cakey or Chewy? The Science of Brownie Baking

You’re getting all dribbly just from reading the title aren’t you?


The Ultimate Brownie - Do You Want Science With That

The humble brownie. There’s just something about it.

A wee while back I wrote a post about baking chocolate chip cookies and how to use science to make them crunchier or chewier. It was pretty popular, so I thought, why not make another baking “how to” post! So here it is, how to make your brownie fudgier, cakier or chewier.

It’s all about proportions

Just like crafting cookie, brownie baking takes some careful measurements, and changing the amount of each ingredient that you use will change the final brownie outcome.

There are three main ingredients that you can alter to make your brownie fudgier, cakier or chewier and they are chocolate, butter & sugar and flour. So lets get started!


For an intensely dense chocolate hit

Chocolate: The more the merrier! The fudgey texture of your brownie is amplified by the fats in your chocolate so more chocolate will result in a fudgier brownie.

Butter and sugar: Melt and mix. Like I said in my cookies post, melting the butter before adding the sugar stops air bubbles from forming and making your brownie fluffy. So don’t cream your butter and sugar, gently melt your butter on the stove with your sugar instead.

Flour: Less is more. When flour is mixed with wet ingredients it forms gluten. Gluten is what makes baking tall and crunchy, which is the exact opposite of what you want in a fudgey brownie, so keep the flour to a minimum.


For those who like them light and fluffy

Chocolate: Don’t overdo it. Chocolate is full of fats which will weigh your batter down. If you want a lovely cakey brownie limit your chocolate so that your batter will be able to rise.

Butter and sugar: Beat them into cream-mission! To create a truly cakey brownie you need to get some air bubbles into the batter. You can do this by softening your butter instead of melting it and then whipping the sugar in. The sugar will forge little holes in the butter which trap air and leave your brownie feeling light as a feather.

Flour: Less is again more. While you want your brownie to be nice and cakey, you don’t want it to be crunchy like a cookie. Since you’ve creamed the butter and sugar you have already got some air bubbles into the mixture so your brownie will be fluffy. The gluten formed by flour can turn this cakeness into crunchiness and that just isn’t what you want.


For those who crave the chew

Chocolate: Take it out alltogether. It sounds like a bad idea, but trust me, it isn’t. Cocoa actually contains more pure chocolate liquor than chocolate anyway because it isn’t diluted with milk and sugar, so your brownie won’t be any less deliciously rich. By taking out the chocolate though, you’re removing fats and allowing for a chewier, more delicious brownie.

Butter and sugar: Melt and mix. You want chewy, not fluffy, so the melt on the stove option is the way to go for those after a chewy treat.

Flour: Go for gold! Flour is the key to a good chewy brownie. Adding more four will transform your brownie from a flat fudge to a cheerful chewy by creating some glutenous support during baking.



Two more tips before you hit the mixing bowl

For maximum chocolate flavour: The secret to a super chocolatey brownie is in how you treat the cocoa. You want to really release the delicious flavour, and you can do this with heat. If you pour boiling water over your cocoa, or add it to your butter as you’re cooking it on the stove, the lovely flavour molecules will be broken free from their protein confines and your brownie will be all the chocolatier.

For a crunchy top: There’s nothing like a little texture contrast in food, and brownie is no exception. I love a good fudgey brownie with a crunchy top, it’s just so satisfying. And easy to achieve! The crunch is all in the sugar. You want o use white sugar, not brown. The granulated white sugar will rise to the surface as your batter bakes and dry out, creating a delightfully crunchy crust. Yum!


Okay so it’s finally time. I am going to share with you my absolute favourite brownie recipe. I am a huge fan of the chewy brownie, and this is hands down the best chewy brownie I have ever made. It is just so delicious!


Amazing Brownie - Do You Want Science With That


The Unbeatable Brownie Recipe

  • 140g butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 large, cold eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour

Preheat your oven to 160°C and line a 20cm square pan with baking paper.

Fill a fairly large pot with water and bring to a gentle simmer. Put the butter, sugar, cocoa powder and salt into a heatproof bowl and put it into/sit it on top of the pot. Stir while the butter melts. Once the mixture is hot and the butter is melted, take it off the pot and let it cool.

Once cool, stir in the vanilla, then the eggs, one a time. Stir vigorously until the batter looks shiny and well-blended. Stir in the flour until no streaks remain and then beat the batter for about a minute more.

Pour the batter into your lined pan and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpic comes out of the middle with just a little bit of batter on it.

Ultimate Brownie - Do You Want Science With That


Mmm Brooownie…

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16 thoughts on “Fudgey, Cakey or Chewy? The Science of Brownie Baking

  1. Anne says:

    Great tips! Lovely brownies. I’m always looking for a good brownie recipe!

  2. bladenomics says:

    Unbeatable brownie? Yeah why not. Will try.


  4. Samantha Fruhling says:

    two questions..(my son has to do a kitchen science project on baking)
    1. why do you use cold eggs? does the temperature have an effect on the cooking process? and 2. why do you line your baking pan and what do you line it with? parchment paper? does the paper effect the cooking process as well? or just prevent the brownies from sticking?
    thanks.. those answers would be helpful
    samantha (mom of an 8th grader)

    • Ali Rogers says:

      Hi Samantha!

      You will hear with lots of recipes that it is best to use room temperature eggs. This is because as the eggs warm up they get looser and runnier, meaning that it is easier to whip air into them, resulting in fluffier cakes and biscuits. However you don’t want your brownie to be fluffy, you want it to lovely and dense. This is why you use cold eggs – because they stick together and let less air in.

      As for the parchment paper, I just use it to stop the sticking, I don’t know that is affects the baking in any way.

      Hope this helps!


  5. patricia acosta says:

    Hi ali,
    When you say stir and beat is that by hand or with a machine?
    best regards,

    • Ali Rogers says:

      Hey there,

      I always stir mine by hand, but for the second part of this recipe (when you’re adding the vanilla and eggs) you could use a machine.


  6. Heahter says:

    I am also doing a project for a cooking class. Can you be more specific about the amounts of flour for each version? Also, which version is the The Unbeatable Brownie Recipe? Chewy because you aren’t using any chocolate?

    • Heahter says:

      Just saw the description as chewy! Still would like to know exact amts of flour to use for the fudgey and cakey recipes. Also, just to confirm is 140g of butter 9 tablespoons of butter? And 160 is 350F? What amount of chocolate should be used for the fudgey and cakey recipes? Thanks again!

      • Ali Rogers says:

        As below, I don’t have specific measurements for each ingredient sorry! Just experiment with a recipe you already have (or mine!) and increase/decrease each ingredient depending on what you’re after 🙂

    • Ali Rogers says:

      Hi Heather, I don’t have specific measurements for the amount of flour it takes to make each brownie, because that depends on the other ingredients. I was more meaning that people could experiment and adjust their recipe depending on what kind of brownie they want.

      • Heather says:

        I actually have to make a batch of each, chewy, cakey and fudgy. I bought cake flour for the cakey ones and will just replace that instead of using reg flour. For the fudgy would using leas than 1/2 cup of flour be too little?

  7. Heather says:

    Can you tell me the specific amt of flour to use to make the cakey and fudgey versions? And how much chocolate for those too? Is 140g of butter 9 tablespoons? 160C equal to 350F? Doing a project for school and need specifics!

    • Ali Rogers says:

      Hey Heather,

      Oh perfect! I’d say 1/2 a cup would be about right – you don’t want to overdo it. But maybe consider making a couple of batches of each kind (ie 2x fudgey, 2x cakey) just to see how it goes and so that if your first lot don’t work as well as you expected you can have another go? You might want to bake half batches to avoid filling your house up with brownie, or you could have a brownie party!

      But if you do half the batches then use a small baking tin so that your mixture isn’t too thin because it will probably dry out.

      Let me know how it goes!

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