Types of Oats in Cookies

Oatmeal cookies are a classic treat, but they can be made with different types of oats: old-fashioned or quick-cook. Some recipes are written only for old-fashioned oats, while others leave the choice up to the baker. In this experiment, we wanted to see what would happen if we substituted quick-cook oats for old-fashioned oats in an oatmeal raisin cookie recipe.

Egg Coagulation in the Kitchen: Custards

One of the most important functions of eggs is to provide structure and determine texture. We saw this with breads, cakes, cookies, and muffins, with brownies, and also with meringue. But there’s one more category of baked good that depends on eggs: custards and creams. Eggs set and thicken crème brûlée, quiche, cheesecake, pastry cream, and crème anglaise. In this post, we’ll first review how an egg cooks, then explore how different ingredients and techniques affect this process to create smooth custards and creams.

Food Science Reading

Since I’m sometimes asked, I figured it would be easiest to compile a list of food science books that I can update as I continue to read and learn. These books vary in their scope of baking or cooking, their focus on recipes versus science, and how engaging they are to read, so I’ve included little blurbs about each to help you evaluate which might fit your interests best.

Egg Foams in the Kitchen: Meringue

In the last post, we covered eggs’ many roles in cakes, cookies, muffins, and breads. But eggs are even more versatile when we consider what they can do with air. Think about it: egg whites on their own are dense and chewy. But with air (and sugar), they become light, crisp, melt-in-your-mouth meringue cookies. Add a few more ingredients, and we can make macarons, pavlovas, cake frostings, soufflés, and sponge cakes. In this post, we’ll explore how meringue forms and how we adjust its texture for different bakes.

Eggs in the Kitchen: Water, Protein, and Fats

In the last post, we explored how eggs are made to support growing chicks. Now, we’ll see how those same eggs can contribute leavening, structure, and flavor in the kitchen. This post will focus on the functions of eggs in bakes such as cakes, muffins, breads, brownies, and cookies, but we will turn to meringues and custards in future posts.

Proofing Time in Bread

The past couple posts have focused on the importance of getting the right amount of air into cupcakes, but aeration is important for other baked goods, too. In bread, the amount of air in the dough when it enters the oven also affects rise and texture. This is most directly controlled by the proofing step that happens after shaping and before baking. For this experiment, we under- and over-proofed bread to see how it baked up.

Butter Temperature in Cupcakes

In the last post, we explored the importance of creaming time for volume and texture in cupcakes. This step forms the foundation for the cupcake’s rise when it bakes. Another important factor for creaming is the temperature of the butter. Just like creaming time, butter temperature affects the amount of air in the batter. Today, we’ll explore how butter temperature affects cupcake rise and texture.