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.

Liquid Fat in Muffins

Many muffin and quick bread recipes use oil for a moist, tender crumb. But butter has a superior flavor, and it can melt into an easy substitute for oil. Although both butter and oil are fats, they differ at the molecular level, so a direct substitution won’t create the same exact bake. To learn more about the effects of substituting oil with melted butter, we compared the texture and taste of muffins made with both types of fat.

Fats and Water Don’t Mix: An Introduction to Polarity

In the last post, we reviewed the basic chemical structure of fats and oils. They’re chains of carbon atoms called fatty acids bundled into triglycerides. Our ingredients contain unique ratios of fatty acids with varying lengths and saturations, and as a result, they have different melting points, stabilities, and effects on our health. However, inContinue reading “Fats and Water Don’t Mix: An Introduction to Polarity”

Fats: An Introduction

Fats are one of the most important ingredients in our bakes. They make light and airy cakes, moist muffins, flaky puff pastry, and fluffy bread. In this series of posts, we’ll dive deep into the roles of fat, including texture, flavor, cookie spread, and aeration. But before we explore fats’ interactions with other ingredients, we should first understand fats themselves.

Leavening: An Introduction to Gases

What’s the difference between a light, fluffy cake and a short, dense one? A flaky pie crust and a tough cracker? The answer lies in leavening. Leavening agents lift and expand batters and doughs to make fluffy cakes, flaky pastry, and light bread. There are several leaveners: air, baking soda, yeast, and steam are a few of the most common in the home kitchen. In this post, we’ll explore how all leaveners work. Then, we’ll dive deeper into specific leaveners in the next few posts.

Sugar in the Kitchen: Candies

In the past few posts, we focused on sugar’s roles in baked goods and its interactions with other ingredients. But sugar is also crucial to candies like caramel, fudge, and fondant, for which careful control of sugar crystallization is paramount for texture. In this post, we’ll explore the chemistry of crystal formation in the candy making process.

Sugar in the Kitchen: Partners with Water

In the introduction to sugar, we discussed the chemistry that makes sugar form crystals and attract water. That attraction gives sugar its roles in the texture and structure of baked goods. In this post, we’ll explore how sugar’s interactions with water make it such a versatile ingredient.

Sugar: An Introduction

Sugar is a ubiquitous ingredient in baking, and we often think of it as a sweetener. But while sugar undoubtedly provides flavor, it also plays important roles in the texture and structure of baked goods and of candies such as caramel and fudge. In this post, we’ll introduce the chemistry of all sugars, which will help us understand their roles in the kitchen.