The Science of Baking – Kitchen Chemistry
Little do people know, there is actually a great deal of science and chemistry involved in cooking. The fermentation process in beer and wine production and the yeast reaction in rising breads are all chemical reactions. Most dark alcohols are murky because of the caramelized sugars in them.
Baking must be fairly precise because of the chemical reactions taking place. Combining ingredients in different ways can be the difference between a firm pastry and a fluffy confection. These combinations are vital to achieving the desired result.
Sugar is a chemical that has a big impact on baked goods, such as cupcakes. Sugar contains amino acids that start the caramelizing process and release a chemical called aldehyde. The caramelized sugars create the brown color that many breads and pastries have.
Baking powder and baking soda produce carbon dioxide as they begin to heat. This creates small air pockets in the cupcake or pastry, making it lighter. Baking powder, while less violent in its reaction, requires fewer other chemicals to balance the flavor.
Eggs exist in almost all baked goods, including cupcakes. Eggs act as a binding agent for all other ingredients. The egg whites are almost entirely made up of protein. These proteins break down as heat is applied and help to not only bind the other ingredients together, but also to add a lightness and airiness to baked products, like cupcakes.
It is not necessary to understand all of the inner workings of a recipe, but it does help sometimes to know what is happening and why. This information comes into play when you run out of an ingredient and need a suitable substitute. Another great experience for understanding the roles of your ingredients when you are baking is the creation of your own special foods. With a little knowledge under your belt, you can branch out on your own and start designing confections that no one else can imagine.