Baking Ingredients and uses
From bread to biscuits, cookies to cakes, baking is the art of turning flour into (delicious) food.
Flour is the ingredient on which most baked products are based. Flour holds ingredients together in baking. When flour protein is combined with moisture and heat, it develops into gluten. Different types of flours have different levels of protein, which are suitable for various baked goods. Choose the right flour for the right task and you're a long way toward baking success. Choose the wrong flour and you're courting trouble.
All-Purpose Flour: If a recipe calls simply for "flour," it's calling for all-purpose flour. All-purpose flour (aka AP flour) is an all-around good flour to use for baking bread, cakes, muffins, and for mixing up a batch of pancake batter. All-purpose has a protein content of 10-13% and it performs very well on most baked goods. If you want a soft cake layer, reach for cake flour.
Cake flour, on the other hand, has only 8-9% protein, making it the weakest flour on the shelf, and it bakes up into meltingly tender cake layers.
Self-rising flour is a combination of all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. They have slightly shorter shelf-life than regular flour. You'll occasionally see it called for in cake and cupcake recipes. Self-rising flour should not be used in yeast bread, nor should it be used to substitute for other types of flour since a leavening agent has been added. If your recipe calls for self-rising flour and you don't have it, here's how you can make it:
To make one cup of self-rising flour, combine 1 cup (140 grams) 'All-purpose flour' with 1+1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Baking powder is the most common aerating agent in baked products eg cakes. It is a dry chemical leavening agent, a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar that is used for increasing the volume and lightening the texture of baked goods.
Eggs are another basic ingredient in many baked products. They play an important role in everything from cakes and cookies to meringues and pastry cream. They provide structure, aeration, flavour and moisture. Egg yolks add moisturizing fat and help emulsify the batter, giving the baked good a smooth and creamy texture. The egg whites act as strengtheners.
Fats and Oils: In baking, butter, margarine, shortening and oils are commonly used. Their main functions are to shorten or tenderise the product, to trap air during creaming and so aerate the cake during baking to give good volume and texture, to assist with layering in puff pastry, to help prevent curdling by forming an emulsion, and to add flavour. It is important to add the correct amount of fat as too much far will make the baked product greasy and unpleasant to eat, while too little fat will leave you with a product that lacks flavour and stales quickly. Butter is about 80% milkfat and 15% water. When butter is specified in a recipe, it imparts special qualities to the dough as well as added flavour. Butter makes finished baked goods crispier than other fats. While Eggs help bind the dough together, and along with gluten make cell structure strong to hold leavening bubbles.
Salt adds flavour.
Sugar imparts sweetness, contributes to leavening, browning, flavour, and also tenderizes the finished baked good.
Different types of sugar will change the taste and other factors of your recipe. If you use white or brown sugar, the colour will be different, and a recipe with brown sugar will have more moisture.
Milk or other liquids dissolve sugar and other ingredients and provide the base for the first reaction of the baking powder.