Archive for January, 2008

Baking Science – Does it matter?

January 31, 2008


Have you ever wondered why your cake didn’t rise properly or what actually happens to the cake batter during the baking process in the oven? Or perhaps you want to know why flours differ in absorption values? All these questions can be answered if you understand the fundamentals of baking science. During my early days of baking, I was constantly challenged as to why my cakes or pastries didn’t turn out as planned. I always blamed my poor results either from thinking it was a bad recipe or because of my inexperience. When something didn’t work, I would try again hoping that it would work the second time but never really understanding how or why I should make those minute adjustments to achieve the desired results.

Baking science involves understanding the fundamentals of the ingredients and techniques you are using to achieve fine baked goods. I very much stress the need for this knowledge if you are a serious baker or aspiring pastry chef. When I was working professionally in a pastry kitchen, there were many nights when I would constantly turn to my trusty baking science book after hours to analyse why things turned out the way they did during our production process. The key to my vast improvement in my knowledge was that I was able to have a reference point very soon after something happened that piqued my curiosity in the kitchen. Now, when I make mistakes in my cake and pastry making, I can intelligently (and many times accurately) fine tune my techniques or ingredient proportions to achieve the desired results.

The book that I always turn to when I have any questions regarding baking science is “How Baking Works: Exploring the Fundamentals of Baking Science” by Paula Figoni. This is a very well written book that I wholeheartedly endorse and it has made me a much better baker because of it.

I hope you enjoy the book as much as I have over the course of my career.