Ever thought of baking as a science? While the average home baker may use a recipe, a professional baker will probably use formulas (ingredients are written in pounds and ounces instead of cups and spoons, therefore the ingredients are weighed instead of measured) for baking. Regardless of how you measure the ingredients, you follow a certain method(s) to mix together a certain amount or percentage of ingredients together to yield an end result.
The ingredients in tasting baking recipes usually serve important purposes. For instance, baking soda produces gas for leavening when combined with an acidic ingredient such as vinegar or lemon juice. If you will take notice of your recipes that uses baking soda as the only leavening agent, you’ll see that somewhere in the recipe there is an acid. It may be as obvious as the vinegar or lemon juice or it could be hidden in an ingredient you wouldn’t normally consider acidic. Molasses would be such an example. Go ahead, take a moment or two and look through your recipes that include baking soda and see if you can determine the acidic ingredient!
What’s my role?
So now we know what role baking soda plays in our recipes but what about the other ingredients? Seems you can’t bake anything without some type of flour. There is Bread Flour, Cake Flour and Wheat Flour just to name a few. Flours are the base in most baking recipes. It gives the baked goods their structure and form. But with all the different types of flours how do you know which to use? Usually the recipe will state a specific type of flour to use.
The “multitalented” egg can have many roles in baking recipes. Eggs assist with structure and form along with providing color, flavor, richness and flavor. Their ability to thicken is evident in custards and meringues. Beaten eggs add air into the batter and causes baked goods to rise therefore they are a leavening agent also. Other baking functions of eggs include glazing, drying and in some frostings, eggs can be used to retard crystallization.
Tip: Eggs should never be placed near odoriferous foods because they easily absorb odors.
Sugar has many roles in baking other than simply providing sweetness. Sugar tenderizes, moistens and helps the baked goods brown. Just as there are many different types of flours, there are many different types of sweeteners and sugars. Examples of sweeteners include molasses, honey, fructose or artificial sweeteners. Several different types of sugars are brown, cane, caster, granulated and powdered.
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