The How & Why
Polenta batter pixlr



So your cake flopped?

Now what?

…read through these 7 ingredients and you will find out why…



Has a protein and starch content that provides the structure, strength and texture giving it the body we need


Nerd Alert:


Wheat flour contains two proteins called glutenin and gliadin. When water is added to wheat flour and then stirred, these two proteins grab each other and connect forming sheets of gluten. Gluten is tough and elastic, tough enough to hold bubbles of gases trapped inside bread. As the gluten forms, water will be released.



is a polysaccharide (carbohydrate) made up of thousands of molecules (called glucose) joined together


Starch molecule:

there are two types, the one is a single long chain called amylose, the other is a chain with branches (bushy like a tree) called amylopectin, both of these molecules form starch granules


Gelatinization of Starch granules:

when these granules are heated in water they swell, this is called gelatinization, which thickens your puddings and sauces when heated



Is used to hydrate the protein and starch in the flour so that the structure can begin forming. They also dissolve sugars, salt and baking powder

Nerd Alert:


Water, milk and juice are all liquids



adding a liquid to a product to form another product (just like you would drink water to hydrate yourself)


3. FAT

shortens the gluten strands in the dough by coating the proteins and preventing gluten formation

Nerd Alert:

Gluten formation:

When water is added to wheat flour and then stirred, the two proteins grab each other and connect forming sheets of gluten



is any fat solid at room temperature (Butter, Margarine), these coat the gluten strands preventing them from absorbing water, making the gluten strands shorter



have a few different functions; they can either incorporate air into a batter, add flavour and colour to a flour mixture, help to form emulsions of fat and water or increase the rigidity of the baked goods by thickening (coagulating) when heated

Nerd Alert:


a liquid dispersed in another, that is not mixable (oil and water)



when proteins are denatured and then bond together again forming a mass



when the protein changes – protein structures unfold but still have peptide linkages between their amino acids (usually making it less soluble)






Gives us the sweetness we want and crave! making everything delicious!
but it also gives the crust a nice brown colour and makes the crumb fine and even

On a more technical note sugar increases the coagulation temperature of the egg proteins and gelatinization of starch. It also ties up the water making less water available for the gluten to hydrate, this means more manipulation is needed to develop gluten structures.

Nerd Alert:


when starch is heated in water, water is absorbed and the starch granules swell, resulting in thickening



a change in the protein, after it has been denatured, that results in hardening, often accomplished by heating



stirring or kneading


also known as carbohydrates, is obtained from the cell sap of the sugar cane


Sugar forms:

White sugar (table sugar), Castor sugar, Icing sugar, Cube sugar, Brown sugar



Baking powder, Bicarbonate of soda, Water

acts by forming a gas that expands during preparation and heating, creating air bubbles

Nerd Alert:


To make something light and fluffy, by forming or incorporating a gas that expands during preparation in the product



Air, steam, water vapour and carbon dioxide are all gases



Wakes up all the flavours creating balance and deliciousness
but on a more technical note salt controls yeast growth and has a strengthening effect on gluten in dough, it also cuts the oily mouthfeel in buttery doughs and encourages browning.

…pretty straight forward

think of it this way – a house is made up of a strong foundation and structures which keep it standing,
so are batters and doughs

All you need is the right ingredients to prevent it collapsing

Nerd Alert:

When it comes to batters or chemically leavened doughs, such as cakes, cookies, flaky pastry and scones, we DON’T want a lot of gluten formation as it makes them tough, heavy and rubbery.

Yeast raised doughs, usually breads, on the other hand want as much gluten formation as possible

Megan Potgieter

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