The Basics of BakingFebruary 25, 2023
Baking is the process of creating foods like breads, cakes, pastries, cookies and other baked goods. This essential part of cooking requires various science techniques to produce successful outcomes.
Bakery products are composed of flour, water and leavening agents (eggs, milk, salt, shortening and sugar). They may also include various minor ingredients which alter the look, texture, flavor and volume of a finished product.
Leavening agents are essential when baking cakes, breads or cookies to make them rise. Not only do they add volume, texture and crumb to the mix; but they also produce gases which create an open crumb structure and lighten the final product.
Leavening agents can be chemical, biological or mechanical in nature and react with acid or heat to produce gas – typically carbon dioxide.
Gas produced by a leavening agent becomes trapped in tiny air bubbles within the dough, causing it to expand similar to how balloons expand when filled with air.
When creating a recipe, there are various leavening agents to choose from depending on the desired end product characteristics and processing conditions. Common options include:
One of the most essential steps when baking is understanding how temperature affects results. Badly baked goods can be a real pain, so being aware of how to regulate your oven’s temperature will help you prevent this from happening.
Baking recipes typically call for specific temperatures and times, so it’s wise to stick with the instructions. If in doubt, find several similar recipes and use them as a benchmark.
The higher the temperature, the greater your food’s chances for caramelization (browning of sugars) and Maillard reaction (browning of proteins). Generally speaking, bake at 325-350 degrees Fahrenheit for most items except desserts which require a different temperature requirement. Cakes, muffins and cookies should typically be baked within this temperature range since they contain high amounts of sugar; higher temperatures could cause their exteriors to burn before internal cooking has completed and won’t develop an attractive crust either.
Baking is an enjoyable and rewarding activity that helps build relationships with family and friends. Furthermore, baking has numerous health advantages – so it’s no wonder why this pastime has become increasingly popular over time.
When baking, there are a few key points to remember – such as the temperature and amount of time required. To guarantee your baked goods turn out perfectly, follow the recipe directions closely and test for doneness once the timer has gone off.
To accurately cook something with high moisture content, the best way to check its temperature is with either an oven’s built-in thermometer or a kitchen thermometer. Be sure to measure this beforehand since humidity can alter cooking times and temperatures significantly.
No matter if you’re baking for personal or professional use, some basic equipment will be necessary to get the job done. These tools are used for measuring ingredients, mixing ingredients together, and baking in the oven.
A kitchen scale is the most essential piece of equipment a baker must own. Not only are these inexpensive, but they can help avoid measurement errors (one of the most common errors in baking) and take up minimal space.
Another tool you should have is a sifter or strainer, which keeps flour and other dry ingredients from sticking together. It also helps you keep your dough or batter organized while mixing it.
A quality spatula is an indispensable baking tool, helping you flip, spread, and scrape food. Many types of spatulas exist; silicone ones being the most flexible and durable as well as easy to clean.