Why do we put eggs in bread? Why do we leave the bread to rise? What is the role of yeast in bread and croissants? It’s not just ingredient, its chemistry. And it’s important to understand this subtle science in order to be a great cook.
When I first stepped out of my mum’s nest, there was very little that I knew about cooking. In fact, it won’t be an exaggeration to state that when I came to work away from my family (campus-selection… know what I mean?), my culinary skills were zero. Absolutely one big O.
Thanks to mum, my first roommate & my granny, who not only inspired me to cook but also taught me a few handy tricks about cooking that I still so religiously follow; I’m saving the details of the kind of inspiration that came from my roommate. It was more like force! Boy, can I quote her: “If you don’t cook and eat only bread, I will throw all of this right out of the window”. I was so inspired, you see!
Paradoxical as the topic may seem, I’m going to give you a small write up about bread and the little chemistry that goes on in it. Let’s talk.
Why yeast in bread: A light, easy to chew bread with a nice crust is what bread ideally should be. And for this to happen, you need yeast. It is this unicellular fungi that acts as the leavening agent. While baking bread, you’d be advised to dissolve yeast in warm water or milk and a little sugar. This is because, the yeast cells feed on sugar and gets activated and metabolizes it to produce Carbon dioxide and ethanol.
Yeast + Sugar = Ethanol (C2H5OH) + CO2
The bread dough rises to double owing to the tiny bubbles of CO2 forming and getting trapped in the dough making it light and airy. Also each little carbon dioxide bubble helps the protein in the dough find more water, forming more gluten. Consider it like kneading in a molecular level to build a strong gluten network.
What is leavening: It is the process of adding gas to dough to give bread a light and chewy texture. When we say, the bread is left to rise; we mean that the bread is left to produce enough air in between the dough bonds to make it fluffy.
Egg wash. Why? It renders a very pretty color to your bread.
Eggs: Give bread the much needed moisture.
Once we have a hang on the little chemistry, you’ll see you’ll just never will manage to go wrong.Its always good to know stuff from inside out. Is it not?