Welcome to my blogging channel as this is my first blog. I’ll start it by elaborating on some important things about baking and its facts, as I am baker by profession. So, I am very much interested in baking breads, cookies, cakes and chocolates. Along with that I’ll be sharing my recipes which you can try easily at home even though if you don’t have oven at your home. From healthy oatmeal cookies & savory tarts to yummy desserts. So, in my first blog I am going to introduce you to the history of baking and some facts about baking food with the most important topic which I’m going to cover is that how baking came to India. So, let’s begin with:
Baking is a method of preparing food that uses dry heat, normally in an oven, but can
also be done in hot ashes, or on hot stones. The most common baked item is bread but many other types of foods are baked. Heat is gradually transferred “from the surface of cakes, cookies, and breads to their center. As heat travels through, it transforms batters and dough’s into baked goods and more with a firm dry crust and a
softer center”. Baking can be combined with grilling to produce a hybrid barbecue variant by using both methods simultaneously, or one after the other. Now I’ll move forward to the history of baking which has been started around 6500 years ago by Europeans and Egyptians.
History of Baking
There is evidence that humans began baking bread over 14,000 years ago, but the oldest ovens discovered are only about 6500 years, so was the first bread even baked? In fact, the word bake originally comes from the word bhõg in the prehistoric Indo-European proto-language. It meant “to dry something out inside of an oven.” And were those folks baking bread? Nope. They were baking bricks in those early ovens. Apparently, the bricks that cooked in the oven would finish faster and with more reliable results than those left out to dry in the sun. Better bricks meant more efficient building, which meant more houses for an increasing population, which eventually led to towns and cities. The first breads produced, around 4000 BC, were unleavened flat breads, though there was usually some natural leavening due to the fermentation of noble rot, wild yeast or steam. The Egyptians are credited with inventing grinding materials, enclosed earthenware baking containers, crude ovens, and the use of the levain process which utilizes a piece of day old dough to introduce fermentation. The Greeks expanded on these baking concepts and became specialists in baking cakes and pastries. The Romans ere the first to promote the training and refining of baking skills and established the first corps of bakers in the western world. The United Kingdom established the first guild that set standards of baking and an apprenticeship of 7 years leading to a master baker certification.
Aside from the steam engine, there were other improvements in baking. In 1856 baking powder was introduced and 12 years later, in 1868, commercial yeast was sold which made life easier for bread bakers as they didn’t have to argue with those rascally little wild yeasties. Life got even better for bakers and pastry chefs in the 1930s when the first mechanical mixers were developed. Baking utilizes carefully balanced formulas. What goes into a flour based baked good either strengthens/toughens (proteins and starches), weakens/tenderizes (fats and sugars), moistens (any water containing ingredient), dries, or leavens it, but not by themselves. Without heat and water, the important chemical and physical reactions wouldn’t take place. Hence the boom the cavemen experienced after the invention of fire.
The changes to a dough or batter as it bakes are basically the same in all baked products, from breads to cookies and cakes. You should know what these changes are so you can learn how to control them.
Now, Let’s move on to the stages in the baking process are as follows:
1. Formation and expansion of gases – the gases primarily responsible for leavening baked goods are carbon dioxide, which is released by the action of yeast and by baking powder and baking soda; air, which is incorporated into doughs and batters during mixing; and steam, which is formed during baking.
Some gases — such as carbon dioxide in proofed bread dough and air in sponge cake batters — are already present in the dough. As they are heated, the gases expand and leaven the product. Some gases are not formed until heat is applied. Yeast and baking powder form gases rapidly when first placed in the oven. Steam is also formed as the moisture of the dough is heated.
2. Trapping of the gases in air cells – as the gases are formed and expand,they are trapped in a stretchable network formed by the proteins in the dough.
These proteins are primarily gluten and sometimes egg protein.Without gluten or egg protein, most of the gases would escape, and the product would be poorly leavened.Breads without enough gluten are heavy.
3. Gelatinization of starches: The starches absorb moisture,expand,and become firmer. This contributes to structure. Gelatinization of starches begins at about 140°F (60°C).
4. Coagulation of proteins Like all proteins, gluten and egg proteins coagulate or solidify when they reach high enough temperatures. This process gives most of the structure to baked goods. Coagulation begins when the temperature of the dough reaches about 165°F (74°C). Correct baking temperature is important. If the temperature is too high, coagulation starts too soon, before the expansion of gases reaches its peak. The resulting product has poor volume or a split crust. If the temperature is too low, the proteins do not coagulate soon enough, and the product may collapse.
5. Evaporation of some of the water – this process takes place throughout the baking. If a baked product of a specific weight is required, allowance must be made for moisture loss when scaling the dough. For example, to get a 1 pound loaf of baked bread, it is necessary to scale about 500 gm dough. The percentage of weight loss varies greatly, depending on such factors as proportion of surface area to volume, baking time, and whether the item is baked in a pan or directly on the oven’s surface.
6. Melting of shortenings: Different shortenings melt and release trapped gases at different temperatures, so the proper shortening should be selected for each product.
7. Crust formation and browning: A crust is formed as water evaporates from the surface and leaves it dry. Browning occurs when sugars caramelize and starches and sugars starts with certain chemical changes caused by heat. This contributes to flavor. Milk, sugar, and egg increase browning.
At last, let’s talk about the temperature for baking goods:
Generally, the process of baking a cake or a sponge happens at a temperature range of 300 °F / 149 °C to 400 °F / 204 °C, although there are always exceptions. But cookies and pastries would be ruined by baking them at a high temperature like 500 °F / 260 °C or they would never set up properly in the low temperatures of dehydration, such as 105 °F / 41 °C, even though that is a process of drying out food too.
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