The Baking cooking method

Baking is a career in itself with people who have specialized in this cooking method to make pastries, bread, and other baked goodies. The baking itself is a science that many people shy away from. It is interesting however that with the COVID19 lockdowns, everyone took on learning to bake something. It is not without doubt that I may say baking at home helps to create beautiful memories in families. We are therefore going to learn more about the baking cooking method.

What is Baking?

Baking is a method of cooking that uses dry heat to get food ready. This method of cooking is similar to the roasting cooking method. Baking is usually done in an oven but is also done in hot ashes, or on hot stones.

The foods mostly cooked by baking are bread, cookies, cakes, using ingredients like flour, sugar, eggs, butter, salt and leavening agents. During the baking process, heat is evenly transferred to the center of the item that is being baked, making a crust on the outside with a soft center.

The dry heat of baking changes the form of starches in the food and causes the outer surfaces to brown, giving them an attractive appearance and taste. The color change on the surface and the creation of new flavors is often due to a  scientific process known as Maillard browning and caramelization of sugars.

Equipment for successful baking: 

There are several tools available on the market that a home baker can acquire for success in their baking adventures. These tools will not only make your baking easier but some are actuary a must-have like a good mixing bowl, a wooden spoon, rolling pin, dry and liquid measuring cups, measuring spoons, an electric mixer, and baking sheets and pans.

7 Tips to note for a perfect baking cooking method

Here are 7 tips that you should keep in mind while using the baking cooking method: 

  1. Make sure to get the proper ratio between the oven temperature and the baking time required. This ratio is determined by the size and weight of the item to be baked. The larger and denser an item is, the longer it will require to cook or bake.
  • master the recipe thoroughly and be prepared to follow the instructions to do with the time, ingredients, and instructions that you need to follow step by step. Make sure you understand the terms and techniques required to complete the recipe and the order of procedure. 
  • Follow the recipe closely and consistently this is because most baking recipes require to follow a certain order of the recipe hence following instructions is key. 
  • Use the necessary equipment and ingredients required for best results.
  • Use correct measuring tools to measure both your dry ingredients and liquid and wet ingredients. Use standard measures like weighing scales, spoons and standard measuring cups for liquids.
  • Check oven to be sure that the racks are in the right positions according to the recipe. It is usually more preferable to place the item in the center of the oven to allow even distribution of heat.
  • Preheat the oven as the recipe directs-and allow your oven to reach the temperature specified. 

What is the difference between baking at low vs baking at high temperatures?

Foods with high-fat content can tolerate higher cooking temperatures in the oven, while baked foods that use a higher proportion of wheat flour to butter or fat can benefit from baking at moderate temperatures. Some yeast pieces of bread, like sourdough, which are very low in fat use the highest baking temperatures. Here are some common temperature ranges and when to use them.

Leavening Agents used in the baking cooking method

Leavening agents make sure that what you bake is not flat but light, porous, raised, and fluffy. Too much or too little leavening agents added to your baked food can make a huge difference in the outcome of your recipe. Here are some basic types of leavening agents commonly used:

  • Baking powder is a combination of baking soda, calcium phosphate, and sodium aluminum sulfate.  The most common type of baking powder is double-acting, which releases some carbon dioxide when moisture is added, and the rest is released when heated in the oven. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is an alkali and can make your recipe taste “off” unless it’s used in combination with acidic ingredients like buttermilk, applesauce, honey, brown sugar, molasses, vinegar).
  • Yeast (CO2) is another leavening agent primarily used in bread making. yeast is a single-celled,and microscopic plant that thrives on simple sugars in the dough, turning them into carbon dioxide. This is what gives bread all its many air bubbles.
  • Yeast can come in active dry form, compressed cake form, a fast-rising form, or as a starter, like sourdough starter. It takes moisture, warmth, sugar, and time for yeast to become activated and  to do its work. This  processis called fermentation.
  • Air is another leavening agent which is achieved when you;beat and whisk egg whites, creaming ingredients, and sifting dry ingredients, you’re incorporating air into your batters and doughs, which when bake will become lighter.
  •  Steam when exposed to water and heat becomes a leavening agent. Water molecules get hot enough to change from a liquid to a gas, leaving behind big, fluffy holes in baked goods; éclairs, popovers, and cream puffs are famous examples of steam leavening.

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