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.
In the last couple posts, we explored the chemical structure of fats, learned why fats repel water, and discussed how they melt. Moving forward, we’ll focus on how these properties affect our baked goods. As we’ll see, fats are crucial for the texture, flavor, and sensory properties of our food. Let’s start with a closer look at the molecular interactions that create tender textures in our bakes.
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”
In the introduction to leavening, we discussed how gases in our batters and doughs expand to add volume and tenderness to our baked goods. Over the next few posts, we’ll explore how those gases get there in the first place. Today, we’re talking about air, which is the foundation of all leavening. It’s easy to see air’s role in meringues and sponge cakes, where it’s beaten in for volume and fluffiness. But air is crucial to the success of other leaveners like baking soda, steam, and yeast. In this post, we’ll explore what air is, how we use it, and how it behaves in the kitchen.
While the polarity of sugar and its attraction to water give it the many crucial properties we discussed in the last post, sugar also functions independently of water. Sugar provides volume, aeration, color, and flavor for our baked goods.
In the last post, we described proteins as strings of amino acid beads that we reshape when we bake. In this post, we’ll discuss how we manipulate some of the most important factors in protein shape such as water availability, acidity, and temperature, and we’ll explore the chemical effects of these changes.
In the introduction to gluten, we described gluten as a protein that contributes to the structure and texture of baked goods. The ideal amount of gluten depends on what we’re making, and there are several ways we can influence the extent of gluten development. We can first choose a flour based on its protein content,Continue reading “Gluten in the Kitchen”
Gluten is one of the most important molecules in baking. Anything that contains wheat flour, be it a cake, cookie, or bread, relies on gluten for structure. Gluten is also responsible for the difference in texture between a light, fluffy cake and a dense, chewy pizza crust. Thus, understanding what gluten is and how toContinue reading “Gluten: An Introduction”