Dough or Batter, What’s the Difference?
Even if you’re a relative expert in the kitchen, there are still likely to be a few terms that can cause a bit of confusion. For example, while you might have a vague sense of the difference between a “dough” and a “batter,” you might not know exactly how they differ.
Form and Consistency
Many people distinguish between a dough and a batter based on how it feels and reacts when it’s handled. In general, a batter has a higher liquid to flour ratio compared to a dough. This means that when it comes time to transfer your mixture from the mixing bowl to the pan or griddle, you’ll either pour a batter or scoop it out with a ladle. In contrast, a dough has a smaller percentage of liquid, so it’s likely to be something that you’ll pick up with your hands when you transfer it to the baking dish. In addition, because dough has more flour and less liquid, it’s likely to be somewhat elastic.
How Each is Made
There isn’t necessarily any consistent difference between a dough and a batter when it comes to the order in which you add the various ingredients to the mixing bowl. However, a batter is more likely to be mixed with a whisk, a wooden spoon or an egg beater (or perhaps a hand mixer, or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment). On the other hand, a dough will likely be combined either with your hands, a stand mixer with a hook attachment, or perhaps your food processor with a dough blade.
How Each is Used
Chances are good that as soon as you mix your batter together, you’ll cook with it right away. In contrast, if you’ve made a dough, then you might need to shape it before you cook (as when you roll out biscuit dough and cut the biscuit rounds), or let it rise (as is the case with yeasted breads), or let it chill (as is the case with many cookie doughs, as well as pie crust doughs). The more you have to work with your mixture after it comes together, the more likely it is to be a dough.
Types of Recipes
Finally, it may also be useful to distinguish between batters and doughs based on the type of recipe you’re making. Most of the time it’s easy to tell; recipes for pancakes, layer cakes, brownies and quick breads will have you making a batter, while recipes for cookies, yeast breads and pie crusts will have you making a dough.
Ultimately, though, the difference between a dough and a batter isn’t all that important. As long as your recipes are turning out the way they should, it doesn’t matter much what you call it.