What is the Chemistry in baking? 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

To understand the chemistry behind baking, we can start with each component that we usually use in the baking process and see how chemistry plays a big role in baking:

  • Flour: basis of much of baking and also the source of protein (gluten). This protein provides structure to baked goods and gives the bread its fine texture.
  • Yeast: a microorganism that consumes starch and sugar and in the process, alcohol, carbon dioxide and sugar are released. The elastic dough traps this carbon dioxide and gets it light, airy texture. 
  • Fat: traps the carbon dioxide molecules and lends a softer texture.
  • Sugar: is the main food source of yeast and its metabolism causes release of CO2. Sugar also keeps the baked items moist by preventing the formation of gluten.
  • Baking powder: it reacts with acids to form carbon dioxide.It is used instead of baking soda, because the soda releases a strong base, which is neutralized here.
  • Egg: acts like a leavening agent, egg white helps in retaining CO2 bubbles and egg acts as a binder. Egg yolk provides richness and moisture.
  • Salt: balances flavor and makes the dough more elastic by lining up the gluten fibers (due to interaction between salt ions and amino acids in the flour).

Hope this helps.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial