Saturday, April 24, 2010

Baked Goods Smack-Down

A timeless battle: Cookie dough vs. cookies.
Which is better? The dough before being baked, or the end product of a delicious cookie?

After discussing the perpetual contest with some friends (a few on cookie dough's side, a few on cookie's) I was interested to know just what distinguishes them. There is an unexplainable difference between eating the raw dough and eating the finished good, and it goes beyond just the texture.

So while I can't identify which treat is the champion (ehem, cookie dough...), what I can do is explain the magical process that makes them so very different.

As it turns out, I'm not really a science person. And I know that baking is basically all about chemistry, so you would think this would make me relate and want to understand more about science. Not so... But I did manage to research and interpret the baking process enough to give a coherent explanation. But instead of trying to give a detailed verbal report, I have decided to do what I do best and get creative; I've drawn it out in cartoon form.
Stage 1: The fats (butter) in the dough are the first thing to be affected by the heat of the oven. Upon melting, it "coats egg proteins, starches, and a few gluten strands" which causes the dough to get tender. At the same time, the dough begins to release some of it's internal air and moisture, causing some rising (known as leavening).
Stage 2: The moisture and air that got released turns to steam in the heat of the oven. This process causes the internal part of the dough to expand and the cookie becomes bigger!
Stage 3: To make the cookie even bigger and stronger, the starch inside soaks up any moisture left in the dough and uses it to give more structure. About halfway through this process, proteins begin to coagulate; this is when something takes on a solid or semisolid state. This causes the cookie to develop a thicker outside "crust" and it also develops the cookie's flavor!
Stage 4: In the final phase of baking, the sugar in the cookie is broken down. This process, called caramelization, is what gives cookies their golden-brown color, and it's a good indicator to know when they're done!

I hope that was helpful!
All of my information was taken from the lovely Cookies In Motion!

xx bakeylove

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating! It's very cool to finally know what's happening in that oven!