Baking for some people is a necessity while for some others it is a passion. The art of baking is somewhat different that normal cooking. Cooking varies from person to person but baking is based on rigid methods. While cooking you have the liberty to alter something from the recipe in order to suit your taste and choice. But while baking you must precisely follow the recipe and method. In baking, every ingredient has to be in a right proportion, mixed up a definite amount of time and the technique has to be precisely followed. Whereas cooking can be defined as an art, baking is more like a science.
The Science behind Baking
The main idea of baking is to heat the food by convection rather than by thermal radiation. Today baking is generally done in an oven but in earlier days hot stones were also used quiet a lot. In baking the heat gradually transfers from the surface of the cake or bread to their centre. That is the reason that the central part is much softer than the outer core. The batter or the dough (which ever term you prefer) on application of heat on them harden and forms the crust on top.
The importance of baking
Bread is one of the earliest baked foods which man-kind cannot survive without. It is a very common food which both important for your daily nutrition and also provides jobs in large number of factories. One of the most common foods in your daily diet, biscuit is actually baked twice. Cheesecake is also baked twice. Other commonly twice baked foods which people consume on a daily basis are bread pudding and biscotti. Therefore we can understand the significance of baked food in our daily lives. Bakeries have existed over centuries and are still going strong.
Some essentials of Baking
Baking is somewhat about chemistry. You have to mix the dough in perfect proportion and know when the right amount of heat has been absorbed. It differs from cooking a bit as it requires less creativity and more perfection.
For Baking the first and most important part is the flour which provides the protein. On addition of water to the flour, the protein complexes form gluten by bonding with one another. The amount of water you add should depend on the type on flour, high protein containing flour requires a lot of water. Then come the addition of leavening agents whose purpose is to provide the airiness to the dough causing it to puff up. Addition of the baking powder, yeast, or baking soda has to be calculated.
If you are baking a non vegetarian cake then one thing is absolutely necessary and that is the egg. The egg helps to hold everything together. Then you need to add some fat providing material on top of that, on addition to providing a nice flavor it also coats the excess protein present in the dough. The addition of sugar, milk and salt is also very necessary and has to be done carefully.