Art and Science of Baking

January 15th, 2016

Baking is a cooking method, which uses protracted dry heat, usually, in an oven and also on hot stones or hot ashes. Bread is the most common baked item. Heat is transferred slowly from surface of breads, cakes and cookies to their middle. When heat travels via it, it transforms dough and batters into baked goods with a soft centre and firm dry crust.

Traditionally, women have been baking items for domestic consumption in the home while men have been baking in bakeries and restaurants for general consumption. Due to industrialization, baking was automated in factories by using machines.

Baked goods, particularly breads and cakes are common food items from cultural and economic angles. A person, who bakes items for a profession is named as a ‘baker.’ Apart from breads and cakes, baking is used to prepare scones, pretzels, cookies, crackers, quiches, pies and pastries.

Bread is the most popular baked item. Basic ingredients to make breads are:

  • Yeast (to enable bread to rise)
  • Flour
  • Salt (to add taste and help proving)
  • Vegetable fat (to make loaf airier and lighter and prolong shelf life)
  • Vinegar (preservative)
  • Water
  • White bread made in UK is fortified with Vitamins B, iron and calcium

The role of yeast:

Most breads made today are leavened, which means an additive helps the dough start fermenting and to rise. The most favourite leavening agent is yeast.

Yeats is a micro-organism. Thousands of yeasts thrive in the atmosphere. If provided damp but warm surroundings or sweet and starchy matter, it will begin breeding. When yeast multiplies, it converts sugars and starches to alcohol and produces Carbon Dioxide gas. This gas creates air in the dough and causes it to rise.

Yeast made use of by bakers is Saccharymosa Cereviserae, a by- product of brewing beer. Nowadays, it is made commercially in labs and sold as compressed, fresh or dried yeast.

One must mix yeast with a warm liquid before adding to the flour. The yeast won’t multiply, if liquid is too cool or will be killed if it is too hot.

Role of protein:

Gluten is the crucial protein found in flour. It makes the dough soft such that it can expand when yeast produces gas bubbles. It also provides strength to the dough, so gas bubbles don’t burst.

Steps in baking:

  • Mix ingredients to form dough.
  • Knead dough to soften gluten and make it strong.
  • Dough is left to rise, so it becomes double its original size. The rising time depends on where you keep the dough and generally shorter in warm place and longer in a cold place.
  • Knock back the dough to get rid of large air bubbles created by yeast. It leads to a better rise and an even texture.
  •  The dough is shaped and placed in a tin. It is covered and left again to rise. Time taken will depend on volume of dough and temperature.
  • Finally, it is time to bake the dough. A hot oven is necessary to destroy the yeast cells (230 degree C or 450 degree F).

Baked bread will be crisp and golden and soft at the centre. You can also make cakes by baking. If you want to send bread or cake to a loved one, try for cake delivery by ordering for cakes by post. This is a simple and easy method to impress someone.