Uploaded by Joseph John


instructables classes
10 Lessons
Beginner Level
We’ve all enjoyed a light and tender mu n, or a moist and delectable slice of cake, but have you
ever thought about why the texture and crumb are the way they are, or what it takes to achieve
such results?
Welcome to the Science of Baking where you’ll learn the fundamental skills necessary to become a
successful home baker. This class uses easy-to-follow steps and detail-oriented photos that will put
any delicious baked good within your reach.
We will cover the essential components (fats, sugars, eggs, ours, and leavening agents) of baking in
great depth, how ingredients interact with each other, and why baking is a science. We will nish this
class by bringing everything learned full circle to make a recipe of your choice: thick and chewy
chocolate brownies or beautiful and delicious nanciers.
Whether you’re a complete novice, want to learn how to create your own recipes, or are interested
in the science behind baking, this class is for you. Follow along with me. You’re in for a sweet treat!
Class Author:
Hi, my name is Jen Wold! I sampled batch after batch of cookie dough as a small child, with raw eggs, and survived! Maybe it’s a
miracle, maybe not, but either way I’m here now to teach you all about baking. I’ve been baking since my eyes were high enough
to peek over the countertop. I currently own a small bakery and sling as many delicious baked goods and cakes as the mouths
around me can eat.
Science of Baking Class: Page 1
Lesson 1: Welcome to the Science of Baking
Did you know baking is a science? Find out why and get
a brief overview of everything that will be covered in this
Lesson 2: Tools & Ingredients
The list isn't long, but there are a few specific tools that
will help you become successful in the kitchen.
Lesson 3: Fats
Fats add moisture to baked goods and help give desserts
a tender crumb. Learn about the best fats for baking.
Lesson 4: Sugars
Sugar comes in many forms, from solids and crystals, to
syrups and powders. Find out the most common ways to
sweeten up desserts.
Lesson 5: Eggs
Eggs are complex structures. You'll learn more about
eggs in this lesson than you ever thought possible!
Science of Baking Class: Page 2
Lesson 6: Flours
There are many, many types of flours available. This
lesson will teach you the difference between the most
common types and what they are best used for.
Lesson 7: Leavening Agents
Find out what the most common leavening agents are in
baking and how they work to give rise to baked goods.
Lesson 8: How to Read a Recipe
Learn how to properly read a recipe. It may sound silly,
but there are important rules to note and follow!
Lesson 9: How Baking Works
Whatever you do, don't blast through this lesson! It
describes in detail what happens during the mixing
process and how ingredients interact with each other.
Lesson 10: Class Project — Get Baking!
Get the recipes for dark chocolate brownies and
blueberry lemon financiers. Choose one recipe to make
for your Instructables Baking Patch!
Science of Baking Class: Page 3
Lesson 1: Welcome to the Science of Baking
We’ve all enjoyed a light and tender mu n, or a moist and delectable slice of
cake, but have you ever thought about why the texture and crumb are the way
they are, or what it takes to achieve such results?
Welcome to the Science of Baking where you’ll learn the fundamental skills
necessary to become a successful home baker. This class uses easy-to-follow
steps and detail-oriented photos that will put any delicious baked good within
your reach.
We will cover the essential components (fats, sugars, eggs, ours, and
leavening agents) of baking in great depth, how ingredients interact with each
other, and why baking is a science. We will nish this class by bringing
everything learned full circle to make a recipe of your choice: thick and chewy
chocolate brownies or beautiful and delicious nanciers.
Whether you’re a complete novice, want to learn how to create your own
recipes, or are interested in the science behind baking, this class is for you.
Follow along with me. You’re in for a sweet treat!
Baking Defined
Science of Baking Class: Page 4
So, what exactly is baking? Baking is a method used to heat food (from the
outside to the inside) by eliminating or signi cantly reducing moisture content
from an individual food item or mixed ingredients. Baking exposes food to
prolonged periods of heat without directly exposing it to a ame. This is most
often achieved in an oven, but can be done over hot coals or stones.
Technically any food can be baked, however, in this class we will discuss baking
in the form of delicious baked goods and desserts.
What You Will Learn
This class will cover the most common ingredients used in baking in great
depth. Among many other details, you will learn where these ingredients come
from, how they are made, why they perform the way they do in baking, and
which ingredient varieties are best for speci c baked goods.
If you are one of those people who wants to know everything about baking,
you've come to the right place! Here is a brief rundown of the lessons in this
Leavening Agents
How to Read a Recipe
At the end of this class you will be ready to complete one of two recipes (listed
below) to be awarded your Instructables Baking Badge. You get to choose!
Blue be rry Le m o n Fina ncie rs
Financiers are small almond cakes that are traditionally avored with fresh
fruit which is pressed into the tops of the cakes before being baked in a mini
loaf pan.
Da rk Cho co la t e Fudg y Bro w nie s
Brownies are a at baked dessert most often avored with chocolate and
cocoa powder. They tend to be rich in avor and can be described as being
chewy, cakey, or fudgy. They are de nitely a crowd pleaser!
Meet Your Instructor
Science of Baking Class: Page 5
Hi, my name is Jen Wold! I sampled batch after batch of cookie dough as a
small child, with raw eggs, and survived! Maybe it’s a miracle, maybe not, but
either way I’m here now to teach you all about baking. I’ve been baking since
my eyes were high enough to peek over the countertop. I currently own a
small bakery and sling as many delicious baked goods and cakes as the
mouths around me can eat.
Up Next: Lesson 2 — Tools & Ingredients
Next you will learn about all the tools, supplies, utensils, and ingredients
necessary to complete this class.
Science of Baking Class: Page 6
Lesson 2: Tools & Ingredients
If you are just starting out, this list may seem extensive, but if you plan to bake
consistently these are items that will be used over and over again in baking
recipes. The following is a list of tools necessary to complete this class.
Substitutions will be suggested throughout the class when available.
Mixing Bowls
Measuring Cups
Measuring Spoons
Rubber Spatulas
Sifter or Fine Mesh Strainer
Cooling Rack
Small Saucepan
Mini Loaf Pan or Standard Mu n Pan
Hand Mixer and/or Stand Mixer
8 x 8 inch square pan (or 20 x 20 cm)
Parchment Paper
Food Processor
Egg Separator
Digital Scale
Oven Thermometer
Chef Knife
Science of Baking Class: Page 7
Cutting Board
Oven Mitt & Hot Pad
I have divided the following into separate ingredient lists for nanciers and
brownies. At the end of this class you will choose a recipe to complete. You are
not required to buy the ingredients from both lists.
Fina ncie rs
Blanched Almond Flour
All-Purpose Flour
Granulated Sugar
Unsalted Butter
Vanilla Extract
Fresh Blueberries
Powdered Sugar
Science of Baking Class: Page 8
Ult im a t e Bro w nie s
All-Purpose Flour
Granulated Sugar
Cocoa Powder
Baking Powder
Sour Cream
Unsalted Butter
Vanilla Extract
Instant Co ee
Dark Chocolate Chips
Explanation of Tools
In case you aren't familiar with all of the tools in the required list I've brie y
explained each tool and their function(s) below. If you already have a good
understanding of the tools used in baking feel free to blast through this
M ixing B o w ls
Mixing bowls are essential to every bakers kitchen arsenal. In this class you will
be using multiple size bowls for whipping and separating eggs, and sifting
our. I recommend using glass bowls. Plastic bowls acquire a lm on them that
makes it di cult to achieve beating egg whites to sti peaks.
M e a s uring Cups
Science of Baking Class: Page 9
Any basic measuring cup set will serve you nicely in the kitchen. I don't own a
six piece set like in the link, but I wish I did. It makes it easier to measure
amounts that aren't in a traditional four piece set.
M e a s uring Spo o ns
Measuring spoons are essential for getting small amounts correct in recipes.
When you use a measuring spoon you always want to make sure and level the
ingredient to the top of the spoon.
Rubbe r Spa t ula s
Have you ever seen a cooking show where a chef is making some kind of
dough or batter and doesn't scrap the last bits out of the bowl before
throwing it in the oven? I have and it makes me craz y. I couldn't survive in the
kitchen without rubber spatulas. I probably have 10 of them in various sizes
and exibilities. They are great for getting thin and thick batters out of bowls.
M icro pla ne
Owning a microplane makes it easy to zest citrus fruits, spices, cheeses, and
chocolate. As you can see in the photo a microplane is basically a handheld
version of a cheese grater but with much smaller slicing blades.
Sif t e r o r Fine M e s h St ra ine r
Fine mesh strainers have multiple uses in the kitchen but function well for
sifting dry ingredients into wet ingredient in baking. A sifter accomplishes the
exact same task as a strainer just in a di erent way.
Sm a ll S a uce pa n
Many baking recipes call for melted butter or melted chocolate so a small
saucepan is a great tool to have around.
Ha nd M ixe r
A hand mixer is a convenient tool that is small in size and easy to store. In
baking it's used to mix batters, doughs, and whip egg whites, among other
things. It saves your arms and hands from mixing a lot of strokes.
St a nd M ixe r
A stand mixer is an investment but is great for its versatility. It has the same
basic functions as a hand mixer, but a stand mixer comes with a variety of
attachments for mixing, whipping, and kneading. It can be upgraded with
fancy attachments that will roll pasta, spiralize, grate, grind, make ice cream
and more! It's great, not only for convenience, but for it's power! (I just
sounded like an infomercial!!)
Che e s e clo t h
Cheesecloth is a type of loosely woven fabric that makes it great for straining
liquids from solids. As it states in its name cheesecloth is traditionally used in
cheese making, but for this class we will use it to make homemade butter!
Pa rchm e nt Pa pe r
Science of Baking Class: Page 10
You can purchase parchment in the same section where the waxed paper,
plastic wrap, and aluminum foil are located in the grocery store. This is used as
a liner so batters and doughs will not stick to the pan. It also acts as a barrier
so items like cookies will not brown as much or as fast on the bottoms.
Fo o d Pro ce s s o r
This medium sized kitchen appliance it great for whizzing ingredients into a
smooth mixture. Most food processors also have a pulse button if you don't
want your mixture completely smooth. In this class we will be using the food
processor to make homemade butter! The one I link to is the one I personally
own and it works great.
Eg g S e pa ra t o r
This tool is nice to have but is not necessary to be able to separate eggs. There
are many ways to separate eggs that will be covered in the Eggs Lesson in this
class. An egg separator sits on the side of a bowl. You crack an egg into the
separator and let the whites drain from the yolk.
D ig it a l S ca le
A digital kitchen scale is used to weigh ingredients (just like a scale to weigh
your body only on a much smaller scale). There are many recipes that use
amounts that are easiest to get correct when weighing. You simple place a
bowl on the scale, zero it out (to cancel out the weight of the bowl) with the
tare button, and add ingredients until you have the right amount.
O v e n T he rm o m e t e r
This is a nice gadget to have to ensure you are baking at the correct
temperature. It is placed inside a preheated oven and give you an accurate
reading of the temperature inside. You can make adjustments if the temp on
the thermometer and the temp you have preheated to are not the same.
Che f Knif e
Many recipes call for ingredients to be chopped (like chocolate, nuts, fruits,
etc.) or for baked goods to be cut after baking (like brownies, bars, cakes, etc.).
A large, very sharp chef knife is a good knife to have on hand for all your
chopping needs. It's also great for cooking!
Science of Baking Class: Page 11
Cut t ing B o a rd
Once you have a chef knife you will need something to use it on! I love Boos
Block brand cutting boards but any good sturdy wooden cutting board will
O v e n M it t & Ho t Pa d
If you are going to be doing any baking you will want to have an oven mitt so
you don't burn yourself when taking hot pans out of the oven. Hot pads are
also nice to set the hot pans on so you don't ruin your countertop! I also
recommend (and added in the photo) a good kitchen towel. You always need a
kitchen towel!
B a king Pa ns
There are a ton of di erent baking pans one could own but some will be used
over and over again in baking. If you are interested in becoming a successful
baker I suggest starting out with a cookie sheet, cooling rack, 8 x 8 inch square
pan, and a standard mu n pan. The mini loaf pan will be used to make
nanciers at the end of this class but a mu n pan will also work. Many pans
on the market are non-stick which will make your life easier when trying to
remove baked items from pans!
Up Next: Lesson 3 — Fats
Before we get into actually making a recipe, we will discuss each major
ingredient involved in baking in detail. Fats, sugars, eggs, ours, and
leavenings. First up are Fats!
Science of Baking Class: Page 12
Lesson 3: Fats
The main role fat plays in baking is to coat and weaken gluten bonds which
results in a more tender baked good. They help to retain air pockets and
carbon dioxide that will be released during baking.
Fats come in the form of solids and liquids and are sometimes referred to as
Science of Baking Class: Page 13
Solid Fats
Sometimes referred to as plastic fat, solid fat examples are: butter, tallow, lard,
and shortening. They remain solid at room temperature and can be melted by
warming or heating. In baked goods, solid fats are often whipped or creamed
which creates air bubbles within the fat resulting in a light texture. Solid fats
can also be used as a separator in many recipes (biscuits and croissants) to
create delightfully aky layers.
Let’s take a look at the di erent kinds of solid fats in detail.
Butter is used in baking for its superior avor over other fats. It can add
tenderness, structure, akiness, and a rich, delicious avor to baked goods. It
contains good saturated fats, trace minerals, healthy fatty acids, and provides
Vitamin A, D, E, and K.
Butter can be used in baking in its solid (cold) form, at room temperature
(softened), melted, or browned. If a recipe doesn’t specify a state, and just lists
‘butter’ in the ingredient list, it is most often referring to room temperature
There are a wide assortment of butters available and with so many varieties on
the grocery store shelves, one could be confused as to which one is best for
baking. Let’s nd out about the varieties.
Science of Baking Class: Page 14
Sw e e t Cre a m , Sw e e t , & Uns a lt e d But t e r – These three di erent labels
of butter are very common and guess what? They are all the same! In the US,
this type of butter contains about 80% butterfat, 20% water, and no salt. In
Europe, butter has a slightly higher fat content of about 85%.
Sweet cream, sweet, and unsalted butter are the most common and
inexpensive choices for baking and are preferred for most baked goods. You
will nd them used in most recipes calling for butter. They are a safe bet if you
are unsure of what to use or when a recipe does not specify.
S a lt e d But t e r – On the grocery store shelf, sitting right next to the sweet
cream or unsalted butter you will usually nd salted butter for the same price.
It can also be found labeled as salted sweet cream butter and in appearance
looks the same as unsalted. Salt is added to this kind of butter as a
preservative to keep it fresher longer. With salt added the sodium content is
inevitably higher in salted butter.
Sweet cream and salted butter can be used interchangeably in baking,
however, if using salted butter, you will want to omit any salt the recipe calls
for, or signi cantly reduce the amount.
Cult ure d But t e r o r Euro pe a n But t e r – This type of butter is simply
heavy cream that has been allowed to sour slightly before being churned. It
can also be made by adding a starter (or live bene cial bacteria) before
churning. Why is this done? Cultured dairy contains lactic acid-producing
bacteria that aids in digestion by breaking down casein and lactose (proteins
and sugars). And since every human is lactose intolerant to a certain degree,
this is a great choice.
Cultured butter is a more expensive option and has more of a sour (cheesy)
avor than sweet cream or salted butter. It’s delicious!
Science of Baking Class: Page 15
Cla ri e d But t e r – Also referred to as drawn butter, clari ed butter is
unsalted butter that has been cooked and strained to remove water content
and milk solids. It is almost 100% butterfat. By removing the water content,
clari ed butter will last longer than regular butter (several months) in the
refrigerator. It’s used mostly in cooking because of its high smoking point.
Clari ed butter can be used in cake, cupcakes, and quick bread recipes,
however, since it is more liquid at room temperature than butter it wouldn’t be
a great option for pie crusts, biscuits, scones, or any baked good that requires
a solid fat.
G he e – Ghee is pure butterfat. It is simply clari ed butter that is cooked
longer to remove all solids leaving 100% butterfat. Like clari ed butter, ghee is
most commonly used in cooking. The same rule applies to baking with ghee as
baking with clari ed butter.
Clari ed butter and ghee both have a di erent, less intense ‘buttery’ avor;
almost like butter mixed with oil. They do not have a creamy or silky texture
like butter and are expensive options if purchasing store bought versions.
M a rg a rine – Margarine is an ‘invented’ butter substitute made from
numerous ingredients including: hydrogenated (more on this term in a bit)
oils, water, milk, salt, emulsi ers, and avorings. It is widely believed that
margarine is a good alternative for those with dairy allergies, however, the
majority of margarine brands contain some form of dairy.
Margarine can be used in place of butter but let’s go ahead and avoid it in all
baked goods! Butter is a much more avorful options and provides some
health bene ts.
Science of Baking Class: Page 16
How to Make Butter
Butter is made by churning or agitating fat rich heavy cream — fresh or
cultured. Small beads of fat, encased in teeny membranes, are dispersed
throughout heavy cream. When they are shaken or agitated the beads burst
open and fats are expelled from the membranes. They are attracted to each
other and eventually form a solid mass leaving behind the liquid portion of
the heavy cream called buttermilk.
To make homemade butter you will need:
Science of Baking Class: Page 17
Food processor or pint mason jar
Large, medium, and small mixing bowls
Heavy cream
Ice water
Parchment paper
Rubber spatula
Ho w t o M a ke Ho m e m a de But t e r
Making butter is one of the easiest things you can do in the kitchen. It's also
very fun to watch the cream turn to butter before your eyes. When you make
butter for the rst time I suggest getting the entire household involved or at
least watching! The task is accomplished much faster if you have a food
processor but can also be done by shaking the cream in a mason jar.
1. In a medium bowl add about 1 cup of ice cubes and 2 cups of water. Set
Science of Baking Class: Page 18
2. Pour 1 pint of cold heavy cream into a food processor tted with blade
attachment and attach the lid. If you are using a mason jar I suggest adding
less cream. About 3/4 cup in a pint jar.
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3. Turn the food processor on and let the cream process for about 3-5 minutes.
After about 30 seconds you will see the cream thicken to whipped cream. If
you are using the mason jar method you will need to start shaking the cream
as hard as you can. You will de nitely get a workout and I suggest nding a
shaking buddy so you can take turns! It takes much, much longer than with a
food processor.
Science of Baking Class: Page 19
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4. After another 3-4 minutes the cream will start to separate (the timing may
be di erent depending on the power of your food processor). Keep processing
(or shaking) until the butter forms into a large mass and has separated from
the liquid. We aren't quite done yet, but I recommend tasting the butter at this
point. You will be pleasantly surprised! :)
5. Stop the food processor and pour the liquid into a small bowl. KEEP this
liquid. It is delicious homemade buttermilk. Use it in pancakes, mu ns,
biscuits, or any other recipe that calls for buttermilk or milk!
6. Add about 1/2 cup of cold water (no ice cubes please!) to the butter and
process again. This step may seem strange but it's essential so the butter does
not go rancid. We are technically 'washing' the butter to rinse/separate the last
bit of buttermilk from the butter which helps it stay fresher longer.
Science of Baking Class: Page 20
7. Place a ne mesh strainer lined with about four layers of cheesecloth in a
large bowl. Pour o the water and scrape the butter out of the food processor
with a rubber spatula. Let the butter stand for 5-10 minutes so all liquid drains
o .
8. This step is optional but I always do it because I'm impatient! If you are like
me and don't want to wait the 5-10 minutes, lift the cheesecloth out of the
strainer and bring the edges to the top. Gently squeeze the butter so even
more liquid is released. The drawback to this step is you have to be very careful
to get all the cheesecloth bers o of the butter. You don't want to eat those!
9. Using a piece of parchment paper, form and wrap the butter. Store in the
refrigerator until ready to use.
If you do choose to make homemade butter please share your results by
snapping a photo and posting it in the 'I Made It' section at the end of this
Science of Baking Class: Page 21
The de nition of shortening is any fat that is solid at room temperature.
Examples includes butter, tallow, lard, and vegetable shortening. The name
‘shortening’ comes from the fact that when solid fat is combined with our it
prevents gluten from forming, or ‘shortens’ the gluten strands. (More on our
and gluten later!) Without shortening, baked goods will become gummy or
Most of us know shortening as the brand name Crisco that comes in a large
cylinder container or pre-measured baking sticks. This form of shortening is
made by hydrogenating various vegetable oils which is a chemical process of
transforming a liquid oil to a solid by adding hydrogen. This process results in
trans fat laden molecules which are destructive to the human body when
consumed. Crisco, and any other vegetable shortening brand, makes great pie
crust and buttercream frosting but along with margarine is among the least
healthy options.
Science of Baking Class: Page 22
Lard & Tallow
L a rd is rendered (cooked) and unrendered forms of pig fat. It has a neutral
avor and does not taste like pork! It comes from parts of a pig that have a
high concentration of fatty or adipose tissue. Make sure to check labels to see
whether or not your lard is hydrogenated. If it is hydrogenated it will not need
to be refrigerated, however, if it is not, refrigeration is probably best. Nonhydrogenated or home rendered is best.
Lard is high in monounsaturated fat, contains oleic (fatty) acid, and vitamin D.
It is valued for its akiness in baking, especially pie crust…it makes the best
pie crust!
If you need to avoid dairy products and a recipe calls for butter, lard is the
next best choice!
Science of Baking Class: Page 23
Ta llo w is made by rendering suet, or raw fat, from beef or mutton. You can
buy tallow at the grocery store or make it at home by cooking down raw fat. It
has many, many uses outside of cooking and baking, including: soap making,
ux for soldering, candle making, and being used as a lubricant.
Tallow contains high levels of Vitamin A, E, D, and K, omega-3 fatty acids, and is
rich in antioxidants. Tallow can be used in place of butter for making cookies,
pie crusts, scones, biscuits, and other sweet pastries. Like butter, it is solid at
room temperature but doesn't have as rich of a avor.
Science of Baking Class: Page 24
Liquid Fats
Liquid fats are oils. Common examples of oils used in baking are: canola oil,
vegetable oil, and olive oil. They are typically used in quick breads, mu ns, and
cakes. Containers can be found in a variety of sizes and also in spray forms.
Ca no la O il — Canola oil is made by crushing seeds from the canola plant.
45% of a canola seed is oil and is released during this process. Canola oil has a
very neutral avor and can be used for any recipe calling for oil. It can be
substituted for any liquid oil in baking.
Ve g e t a ble O il — Contrary to the name, vegetable oils don’t contain any
vegetables. They are classi ed with the name ‘vegetable’ only because they do
not come from an animal. Typically, these oils are made (in the same way as
canola) from soybean, cottonseed, rapeseed, sun ower, or sa ower. Most
vegetable oils on the grocery store shelves are soybean oil. Like canola oil, they
have a very neutral avor and can be substituted for any liquid oil in baking.
O liv e O il — Olive oil is made by a process called malaxation which is basically
adding water slowly to a paste of ground olive esh and pits and stirred until
oil starts to clump together and concentrate. Olive oil has a rich nutty avor
that is pronounced in baked goods. If you like the avor of olive oil, use it in
any baked good that calls for liquid oil to bring a unique depth of avor.
If possible, purchase cold-pressed varieties which means the oil was exposed
to less heat during processing and should be fresher, resulting in a longer
shelf life.
St o ring O il — Canola and vegetable oils will last in a cool dark pantry or
cupboard for about one year. Olive oil is best stored in a cool dark place as
well, however, refrigeration will extend shelf life to 18-24 months. Olive oil will
become cloudy and start to solidify when stored in the refrigerator. You can
see the di erence in the photo above. There is nothing wrong with the oil in
this state and it will clear (and solids will dissolve) when brought to room
temperature. If any oil has an unpleasant odor, avor, or appearance discard
immediately. It has mostly likely gone rancid and is no longer good for cooking
or baking.
Science of Baking Class: Page 25
Up Next: Lesson 4 — Sugars
Sugars come in multiple forms. Next we will discuss all the ways to add
delicious sweetness to your baking.
Science of Baking Class: Page 26
Lesson 4: Sugars
Sugar has an important job — to make things sweet! The more you add to a
recipe the sweeter it will become.
Sugar comes in a wide variety of avors and textures, from solids and liquids,
to powders and crystals. It is made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. It is a
soluble and addictive carbohydrate that makes baked goods so delightful.
Granulated sugar, powdered sugar, and brown sugar are among the most
popular for baking. Let’s nd out about some of the di erent types of sugar,
how they are made, and what they are best used for.
Science of Baking Class: Page 27
Granulated Sugar
Granulated white sugar is made from either sugar cane or sugar beets. Unless
a package is labeled as ‘pure cane sugar’, it is unknown (without contacting the
manufacturer) whether the sugar is sourced from sugar cane or sugar beets as
there are no US regulations for labeling sugar.
Since only the tops of sugar cane stalks are cut (leaving part of the plant and
roots behind to regrow) it is a sustainable crop unlike sugar beets which
require planting each year.
Science of Baking Class: Page 28
Turbina do Sug a r – As shown above, turbinado sugar is a larger crystal
sugar, slightly tan in color (due to the natural molasses content), and is made
from the rst pressing of sugar cane. Since it is a larger crystal and does not
melt during baking, it is used mostly as a topping for scones, mu ns, and
cookies. It makes them deliciously pretty!
Sug a r B e e t s – Sugar beets are a root crop grown in temperate climates. To
make sugar from sugar beets, the roots are washed, sliced, and soaked in a hot
water bath which separates the sugar from the root. The sugary liquid is boiled
and concentrated into a thick syrup, brown in color. The brown color is due to
high molasses content. The syrup is spun in a similar way as sugar cane to
separate the molasses crystals from the white sugar crystals.
Powdered Sugar
Powdered sugar is white sugar that has been ground into a ne powder. It is
also referred to as confectioner’s sugar and icing sugar. It is a common
ingredient in icings, buttercream, and shortbreads. It is also used to dust the
tops of many pastries and desserts to add a touch of sweetness and/or visual
If you nd you need powdered sugar and do not have any you can make your
own by grinding white sugar in a very clean co ee grinder until it becomes a
Science of Baking Class: Page 29
Brown Sugar
Brown sugar is simply white sugar mixed with molasses. It is not quite as sweet
as white sugar due to the bitterness of molasses. It has a higher moisture
content and is sold in light and dark varieties. The only di erence between the
two is that dark brown sugar has a higher molasses content than light brown
sugar. Light brown sugar can be used as a substitute for white sugar, but due
to the slightly higher moisture content can change the texture of a baked
Brown sugar is commonly used in cookies, mu ns, and quick breads where a
stronger avor is warranted. Cinnamon rolls cannot properly exist without
brown sugar, in my opinion!
When measuring brown sugar always pack it down rmly into the measuring
cup. Not all recipes state that it needs to be packed but it's the proper way to
measure brown sugar.
Ho w t o M a ke Bro w n Sug a r
1. Add one cup of white sugar to a food processor. Pour one tablespoon of
molasses onto the top of the sugar.
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2. Whiz in the food processor until the color is uniform.
For dark brown sugar, follow the same steps as for light brown sugar but add
one extra tablespoon of molasses (two tablespoons molasses per cup of white
Ho w t o S a v e Ro ck Ha rd Bro w n Sug a r
Brown sugar contains moisture. If left unused long enough, moisture will
eventually evaporate creating rock hard brown sugar crystals. When this
happens, there is no need to throw it out. It's just dehydrated and can easily be
saved. Place a small piece of bread or a few apple slices in the container and
seal tightly. Let sit for one day, remove the bread or apples and give it a good
If you need to use brown sugar straight away you can place it in a bowl with a
damp paper towel, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for about an hour. Give it
a good stir and you'll be good to go!
Science of Baking Class: Page 31
Molasses crystals that are spun and separated from white sugar crystals
during processing are cooked or boiled down in three stages to create a dark
colored, viscous liquid called cane syrup (result of the rst boiling), molasses
(result of the second boiling to make the liquid even thicker), and blackstrap
molasses (result of the third boiling, producing the most concentrated liquid
and avor).
Blackstrap molasses contains a signi cant amount of vitamin B6 and minerals,
including; calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese (at about 20% of the daily
value), and potassium.
Although it's great all year long, you probably know the avor of molasses
best in the holiday favorites; molasses and gingerbread cookies.
Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is one of the oldest forms of sweeteners. It is made from the sap
of the sugar maple tree and can be collected in late spring or early winter
when the temperature is below freezing at night and above freezing during
the day, or before buds form on the trees.
Sap is extracted by drilling a hole into the trunk of a maple tree and inserting
a tap through which sap can drip from the inside of the tree and out into a
bucket. This is a slow process. Once sap is collected it is boiled down into a very
sweet syrup.
It is most commonly eaten on pancakes and wa es, however, maple syrup can
be substituted for sugar in baked goods. Use ¾ cup maple syrup for every one
cup of granulated white sugar.
Science of Baking Class: Page 32
Maple syrup is divided into grades, which have recently changed names. You
will see new labels on most of the bottles like the one below.
G ra de A – G o lde n : This syrup is light in color and avor, and is the rst sap
that is tapped in the season. This is the most common type and is typically
used to drizzle over pancakes and wa es.
G ra de A – Am be r : This syrup is slightly darker than the golden variety and
has a slightly stronger avor. It’s made from the sap that is tapped mid-season.
G ra de A – Ro bus t : Formerly known as Grade B, this syrup has a brown color
and is very rich in avor. It is absolutely delicious and what I always have on
G ra de A – St ro ng : This has the darkest color and strongest avor of all the
syrups and is formerly known as Grade C. This is made from the sap tapped
during the last part of the season. Grade A – Strong can be used in place of
any baked good recipe calling for molasses.
In addition to antioxidants, maple syrup contains zinc, manganese, potassium,
and calcium.
Im it a t io n M a ple Sy rup – Although less expensive maple syrup
alternatives are available, brands like Aunt Jemima, Hungry Jack, and Mrs.
Butterworths do not contain any maple syrup and include extremely
unhealthy ingredients like: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt,
Cellulose Gum, Molasses, Natural and Arti cial Flavors, Potassium Sorbate
(Preservative), Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Citric Acid, Caramel Color,
Polysorbate 60, and Sodium Benzoate. If you can avoid imitation maple syrup
your taste buds will thank you!
Up Next: Lesson 5 — Eggs
Do you know why eggs are so important in baking; or why some chicken eggs
are brown? Prepare to learn amazing facts about eggs.
Science of Baking Class: Page 33
Lesson 5: Eggs
Eggs play a very important role in baking. They act as a binder for baked
goods, provide moisture, and create steam that is released during baking
which acts as a leavening agent. Recipes that call for 'eggs' are referring to
Grade A Large chicken eggs unless otherwise noted.
Believe it or not, chicken eggs are complex structures. Let's discuss all of the
parts in detail.
Science of Baking Class: Page 34
Hard Outer Shell
This hard coating is made of calcium carbonate; the same chemical compound that makes up
chalk, limestone, and marble. Eggshells are porous so moisture and air can pass through the shell.
Eggshells are coated with a substance called bloom which helps prevent
bacteria and dust from entering the egg.
Eggshells are mostly white and shades of brown in color. The color of the shell
is an indication of di erent breeds of chickens and does not a ect or
determine the quality of an egg.
In fact, a chicken egg shell color is often determined by the earlobe and
feather color. There are a few exceptions, but in most cases, if a chicken (hen)
has white earlobes and white feathers its eggs will be white. If a chicken (hen)
has red earlobes and red feathers the eggs will be a beautiful shade of brown!
Shell Membrane
Inside the eggshell are two very thin, membranes. One that acts as a lining for the eggshell and
one that surrounds the albumen, or the white, of the egg. These linings are a second defense
against bacteria that may be trying to enter an egg.
Science of Baking Class: Page 35
There is a small pocket of air between the two membranes, called the air cell,
that increases in size as the egg ages. This is most noticeable when eggs are
hard boiled — the wide end of a boiled and peeled egg generally has a at
spot which was the air cell.
You can see I am pulling/peeling the membrane out of the eggshell (to show
you what it is), however, it does not come out naturally when an egg is cracked.
The albumen is the white part of the egg, although it is clear before it is cooked. There is a thin,
or runnier, outer white and a thicker inner white that surrounds the egg yolk. The taller the inner
white stands, the fresher the egg. It starts to break down and thin as the egg ages. The white of
the egg is rich in ribo avin and is about 90% water and 10% protein.
Whites are often separated from yolks in baking. Whites can be whipped or
beaten to soft and sti peaks. Using just the white removes some fat content
from a baked good and provides airiness in the nished product.
Common recipes that use only egg whites are; angel food cake, meringues,
macarons, and nanciers.
Science of Baking Class: Page 36
The egg yolk is the yellow-orange center of an egg. This is what would
eventually nourish a chicken if the egg were fertilized and allowed to mature.
It is rich in healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. The yolk is surrounded by a
thin membrane that breaks down as an egg ages. Like the inner white, the
taller the yolk stands indicates the freshness of an egg.
Egg yolks contain a mixture of emulsifying fats called lecithin. This means that
egg yolks can bond to fats and water making it an ideal binder in baked goods.
Yolks typically aren’t used alone without an added whole egg in baked goods,
however, they are great for curds or crème anglaise, which can be used as a
lling or topping for many delicious baked items!
Science of Baking Class: Page 37
Germinal Disc
The germinal disc is located on the surface of the yolk. This is a small spot, or
indentation that is barely noticeable. If the egg were to be fertilized this is
where sperm would enter the yolk.
Science of Baking Class: Page 38
Pronounced KA-LAY-ZA, these two twisted, cord-like strands of membrane
secure the yolk in the center of the egg white and attach to either end of the
egg shell. Although it’s not necessary, many people choose to remove the
chalazae before cooking or baking.
Blood Spots
I have cracked many, many eggs to nd a small blood spot or two in the
albumen. This occurs when stress is placed on the egg during development.
If you purchase commercial white eggs you will rarely nd a blood spot
because the eggs are candled (light held up behind the egg to see if there are
any abnormalities). If a blood spot is seen during candling the egg is tossed
out. Commercial brown eggs are also candled, however, it's harder to see
through a darker colored shell, which allows for more small blood spots to
pass inspection.
Small blood spots are generally harmless to eat, although, many people prefer
to pick that section out. Do what makes you comfortable. I never pick them
out when baking!
Science of Baking Class: Page 39
How to Crack an Egg
There are a few methods for cracking eggs including; cracking on a at
surface, cracking on the edge of a bowl, or using one hand. None are right or
wrong. Below I will cover the di erent methods, but do what works best for
You will always want to try to crack the egg around the wide center where the
shell is the weakest. The goal is to not allow any eggshell pieces to get into the
Cra cking o n a Fla t Sur f a ce
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To crack an egg on a at surface hold the egg rmly in one hand. Expose the
widest (and weakest) part of the egg and hit it hard enough on the countertop
to make a large crack. Press each of your thumbs into the dented crack and
pull the two halves of egg shell apart. The egg inside will easily fall
out...preferably into a bowl! I like to crack eggs near a garbage can so the shells
can be easily and cleanly disposed of.
Cra cking o n t he Edg e o f a B o w l
Science of Baking Class: Page 40
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This method is done exactly as above, however, you hit the egg shell on the
edge of a bowl instead of a at surface. Unless you have a heavy bowl you will
need to be holding the bowl securely with one hand while cracking with the
other. Otherwise it will just tip over! This method produces a larger/wider crack
that's easier to open.
Cra cking w it h O ne Ha nd
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This is by far the most di cult method but if you can learn to do it, it makes
cracking eggs faster and leaves one hand completely mess free! Hold the egg
in one hand and hit it on the side of a thin bowl. Hard enough to crack the egg
shell almost half way through. With the thumb and pointer nger holding one
half of the shell and the three remaining ngers holding the other half of the
shell, pry the shell open and free the egg!
How to Separate an Egg
Many recipes call for egg whites only, or egg yolks only, which means they will
need to be separated. I will highlight three methods below. The main goal in
separating eggs is to not allow the yolk to break. If you are making something
like meringue or angel food cake where achieving soft or hard peaks is
necessary, small pieces of yolk could be devastating to the nished product.
Science of Baking Class: Page 41
As an egg comes to room temperature it will relax, so separating a cold egg is
easier. If you are new to separating egg whites from yolks use cold eggs!
S e pa ra t ing w it h Fing e rs
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In my opinion this is the easiest way to separate an egg. Crack an egg into a
small bowl and dispose of the shell. With clean hands, gently reach under the
yolk and lift it straight up. Let the whites drain through slightly separated
ngers. It's that easy! The egg is successfully separated.
S e pa ra t ing w it h Eg g s he ll
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This method is slightly more di cult because the edges of a cracked egg shell
are sharp. There is a higher chance of the yolk getting punctured on the shell.
Crack the egg on a at surface or edge of a bowl. Break the two halves apart
and immediately turn both halves (cracked side) up over a bowl. Gently pour
the egg from one shell half to the other letting the egg white over ow into
the bowl beneath. Repeat until only the yolk is left in the shell.
S e pa ra t ing w it h a S e pa ra t o r To o l
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An egg separating tool has a rounded bottom where the yolk can rest and
slats in the sides where egg whites can run through. This method of separating
eggs is also extremely easy assuming you actually have the tool! Place the tool
on the edge of a small bowl and crack an egg into the separator. Let the egg
white run through the slats. If the egg is very fresh the inner white will be
thicker and may require some rotating (as seen in the video) of the tool to get
the white to ow through the slats. That's it! Easy peasy!
Science of Baking Class: Page 42
How to Whip Egg Whites
By whipping or beating whites at a fast speed, air bubbles become trapped
inside the albumen. These air bubbles will hold and release steam during
baking which will give a baked good rise, and result in a light and airy texture.
Lig ht ly B e a t e n
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Many recipes will call for lightly beaten egg whites. This simply means
whisking the whites with a wire whisk to break down the inner and outer
albumen into a cohesive texture. Eggs are considered lightly beaten when
small air bubbles form and the mixture looks somewhat frothy.
S o f t Pe a ks
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To properly make soft peaks you will need either; room temperature egg
whites and room temperature tools, or tools chilled in the refrigerator and
cold eggs. Ultimately, whites and tools should be approximately the same
Plastic bowls have an oily residue that can interfere with properly whipping
egg whites and are not recommended. Choose metal, glass, or a ceramic bowl
Science of Baking Class: Page 43
Using a hand mixer, beat egg whites on low speed until frothy. Turn mixer to
high and beat until the bubbles become small and the whites are white in
color. You will know when you achieve soft peaks by turning the mixer o and
pulling the beaters straight up and out of the whites. The peaks left behind
should gently fall over.
St i
Pe a ks
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Sti peaks are made the same way as soft peaks; they are just beaten longer.
When the beater is lifted straight out of the whites the peaks should stand
straight up and retain their small mountain-like peaks without falling over.
Although it is di cult to over whip egg whites, I recommend testing often
when whipping to sti peak stage. If you whip too long the whites will become
watery and grainy. They cannot be salvaged or used at this point and will need
to be tossed out.
Egg Alternatives
Eggs are among the top food allergens and many people need to avoid them.
Luckily there are many egg alternatives!
Science of Baking Class: Page 44
Chia & Fla x S e e ds – When chia or ax seeds (whole or ground) are mixed
with water they make a sticky, gelatinous egg-like mixture. They are a great
substitute for chicken eggs.
One tablespoon of ground chia or ax seeds mixed with three tablespoons of
water equals one egg in baking. Just mix together and let stand for 10-15
minutes. Mixture is ready when it becomes thick enough to not run out of the
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This substitute works well in cookies and mu ns, but not as well in cake or
quick bread recipes. Unfortunately, they cannot be whipped like normal egg
Eg g Re pla ce r – Powdered substitutes are also available and may consist of
wheat gluten, soy our, corn syrup, and algae. Directions are usually the same
as above. Mix one tablespoon powder with three tablespoons of water for
every egg needed. This may work better in baked goods than chia or ax,
however, I have never used it. If you have, please comment below on its
e ectiveness.
Up Next: Lesson 6 — Flours
Get ready to enter the wide world of ours. I will touch on the main types of
ours, how they are made, and their role in baking.
Science of Baking Class: Page 45
Lesson 6: Flours
Flour is the powdered form of wheat, seeds, nuts, or roots. It is made by
grinding uncooked grains (seeds, nuts, or roots) into a ne powdery texture.
Flour serves as the main, or base, ingredient in most baked goods. When liquid
is added to our, two proteins (gliadin and glutenin) are transformed into
gluten bonds, or strands, which acts as a sort of glue to hold ingredients
together, creating a dough or batter. These gluten bonds give elasticity to
dough creating a chewy texture. It’s also what gives baked goods their
structure. Depending on the strength of the gluten bonds that form (or how
much liquid is added), the texture (or crumb) of a baked good will change.
Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale.
There are many di erent types of our and you will nd numerous varieties on
the grocery store shelves, mostly wheat varieties. Below we will discuss the
most common types, what they are made up of, and how they are best used.
Science of Baking Class: Page 46
Anatomy of a Wheat Kernel
A wheat kernel consists of three parts: endosperm, bran, and germ. These
parts can be separated and used individually, or ground together and used as
a whole.
Endo s pe rm – The innermost part, or center, of a wheat kernel is called the
endosperm. It is a source of soluble ber, B vitamins, trace minerals,
carbohydrates, and iron. The two gluten proteins are also present in the
endosperm of the wheat kernel: gliadin and glutenin. The protein, gliadin, is
what a person with Celiac disease has a reaction to. Endosperm makes up most
of a wheat kernel - about 83%. All-purpose our is ground endosperm.
Bra n – Wheat bran (left side of above photo) is the outermost coating of the
kernel. It is the housing and protects the seed. Wheat bran provides insoluble
ber, some B vitamins, and trace minerals. It makes up approximately 14% of
the kernel. Many common breakfast cereals are made with, or contain, ground
bran. Wheat bran also makes delicious bran mu ns.
G e rm – Wheat germ (right side of above photo) makes up about 3% of a
wheat kernel. It contains fat, vitamins, trace minerals, and antioxidants. Since
wheat germ contains fat, it is removed from all-purpose our to increase shelf
life and slow spoilage. Wheat germ can be used as a ller or coating in cooking,
but can also be toasted to add a rich nutty avor to baked good recipes.
Science of Baking Class: Page 47
The germ is the embryo of the wheat kernel and is where a sprout forms when
exposed to moisture. Wheat germ can also be found in oil form, to be used in
All-Purpose Flour
If you walk to your pantry and look for our you will most likely nd an allpurpose variety. AP our is ne in texture and is milled from the innermost
part of the wheat kernel called the endosperm. It’s often referred to as white
our or re ned our. It does not contain germ or bran and may or may not be
enriched or bleached.
Enriche d means nutrients are added back into the our because they have
been lost during processing.
Ble a che d means a bleaching agent has been added during processing to
make the our whiter in color.
All-purpose our has a 10-12% protein content making it a great option for
cookies, mu ns, brownies, pies, and other common desserts. It is the most
common type of our in baking. If a recipe calls for ' our' and doesn't specify a
type, use all-purpose our.
Science of Baking Class: Page 48
Whole Wheat Flour
Whole wheat our, or wholemeal our, is on the rise in popularity. It is not as
processed as all-purpose our since it contains the entire wheat kernel (germ,
bran, and endosperm), making it a healthier option.
Whole wheat our can easily be made in a home kitchen by grinding whole red
wheat berries in a mill. Red wheat berries are darker in color and have a more
grainy texture than all-purpose our. Whole white wheat berries are also
available which will produce white whole wheat our (lighter in color and airier
in texture).
**Should you choose to grind your own wheat at home to make our, I highly
recommend against the mill you see in the photo above! It takes forever (three
or four grindings) to get a soft enough consistency to bake with. It looks rustic
and nice, but it's not your friend. :) If you decide to purchase one, I suggest an
electric mill.
Since whole wheat our contains the bran and germ, it is more absorbent than
AP our and requires more liquid in a recipe. It will produce a denser texture
and can be used for quick breads, scones, pancakes, wa es, and other baked
goods. It has a higher protein content of about 13-14%.
W ho le w he a t o ur ca n be s ubs t it ut e d f o r a ny re cipe t ha t ca lls
f o r a ll- purpo s e o ur. Us e ¾ w ho le w he a t o ur f o r e v e ry cup o f
AP o ur.
Science of Baking Class: Page 49
Pastry Flour & Cake Flour
Pa s t ry Flo ur – Pastry our has protein content of about 9% which is lower
than AP or whole wheat our. Having a lower protein content means less
gluten (or chewy, dense texture) can be formed. It is generally used as a
substitute for AP our when a more delicate pastry is preferred. It is very ne
in texture and can be used to make pie crust, cupcakes, croissants, biscuits,
and donuts.
Ca ke Flo ur – Cake our is very similar to pastry our but has a slightly lower
protein content (approximately 7-8%) which is a result of the bleaching
process which breaks down proteins. The low protein content results in light
and airy baked goods and like the name states is best used for cakes and
Science of Baking Class: Page 50
Ho w t o M a ke Ca ke o r Pa s t ry Flo ur
To make your own cake or pastry our you will need:
1 cup measuring cup
1 tablespoon measuring spoon
Medium sized bowl
Sifter or ne mesh strainer
1 cup all-purpose our
2 tablespoons cornstarch
This is a great option for the home baker who doesn’t need an entire bag of
specialty our sitting in the cupboard! This most likely won’t result in the exact
protein content of the speci c ours but will be close enough to get a light
airy texture in any recipe calling for cake or pastry our. The simple act of
adding cornstarch to AP our (in the exact amounts listed) will lower the
protein content to that of store-bought cake or pastry our.
1. Measure one cup of all-purpose our and place in a medium bowl.
2. Remove two tablespoons of our and add two tablespoons of corn starch in
its place.
3. Sift into a medium bowl to combine the our and cornstarch. Repeat two or
three times to make sure the ingredients are very well incorporated. Make
more depending on the amounts needed!
Science of Baking Class: Page 51
Gluten-Free Flours
Like eggs, wheat is one of the top allergens and may need to be avoided.
Although they don't work exactly the same as wheat our (because they don't
produce gluten), there are many wheat-free/gluten-free our options
available. Unless you are using a one-to-one gluten-free our mix (meaning
one cup of this kind of gluten-free our can be substituted for one cup of
wheat our), these types of our cannot be used interchangeably for wheat
our. It's best to follow the recipe and directions exactly if you choose to bake
G ra in Flo urs - Oat, Corn, Amaranth, Bean, Pea, Millet, Rice, and Te ours are
among the most common gluten free, grain our options. They are milled
from the dried version of each grain. They are often used in conjunction with
other ours (all-purpose or whole wheat) to make breads, pancakes, and
Nut Flo urs & M e a ls – Almond, coconut, hazelnut, pecan, and walnut are
common high protein, high fat, alternatives to wheat our. Almond our is the
most prevalent of the nut ours. It has a relatively neutral avor and is a
common choice for those on a gluten-free diet.
You can nd blanched and unblanched almond our/meal varieties.
Bla nche d means the almond (or nut) skins have been removed before
processing, giving the our a lighter color and texture.
Unbla nche d means the skins are left on. This is called almond (or nut)
Science of Baking Class: Page 52
Nut ours and meals can be used alone or in combination with wheat ours to
make just about any baked good. Nut ours can be conveniently made at
home by grinding blanched or unblanched nuts in a food processor. Just be
careful how long you process the nuts. They will eventually turn to nut butter!
Tube r & Ro o t Flo urs – Potato, Arrowroot, Cassava, and Tapioca are starchy
our alternatives used mainly in gluten free our and gluten free baking. The
roots are dried and ground into a very ne powder...much like the consistency
and texture of cornstarch.
G lut e n- Fre e Flo ur – Gluten-free our is a combination of grain free ours
and starches that do not contain any gluten. Like the options above, this is also
an alternative for those who have celiac disease or who avoid gluten. If you
choose to use gluten free our you will ultimately end up having to
experiment with di erent kinds/brands.
Although there are one-to-one (meaning any recipe that calls for one cup of
our can be substituted with one cup of this kind of gluten-free our) options,
they do not behave exactly like our. If you don't have to avoid gluten, I
recommend using traditional ours for the best results in baking.
Sift & Measure
Science of Baking Class: Page 53
When a recipe calls for one cup of our it's necessary to have a little over 4
ounces in weight. One might be tempted to dunk a one cup measuring cup
into the bag of our, pull it out, and dump into a mixture. Or even worse, pack
the our into the measuring cup. Both of these methods will inevitably result
in too much our. This can be devastating to your nal product.
Ho w t o Sif t Flo ur
Sifting our is a step often missed or purposely left out, but it is actually really
important. Why? Along the way from the our mill, to the processing plant, to
the grocery store shelves, to the home pantry, our is unintentionally packed
down in its bag. Sifting our removes any and all lumps, aerates/lightens, and
makes it easier to mix into a batter or dough. This is also an opportune time to
evenly distribute other dry ingredients into the our before it gets added to
wet ingredients.
Sifting can be done using a our sifter or ne mesh strainer. To use a our
sifter, simply turn the side crank and sift into a bowl. To use a ne mesh
strainer, simply place our in the strainer. Gently and repetitively hit the side of
the strainer (over a bowl). The our will fall through the holes.
The photo above shows just how much the texture and consistency changes
when our is sifted.
Ho w t o Pro pe rly M e a s ure Flo ur
Accurate measuring in baking is essential, especially in the case of our. If too
much our is added to a batter or dough it will result in a very dry and
crumbly texture. It's not hard to measure properly — here are four options to
get you started. Find which one works best for you and use it every time you
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O pt io n 1: – Gently stir our in its bag (or canister) until it feels soft. Spoon
the stirred our into a measuring cup until it is mounded taller than the rim of
the cup. Using the handle of the spoon or a table knife scrape the excess back
into the bag. This is the least favorable option simply because the our does
not aerate as much as with proper sifting, but does result in about the same
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Science of Baking Class: Page 54
O pt io n 2: – Place our in a hand sifter or ne mesh strainer and sift the our
directly into a measuring cup. Sift until the our mounds over the rim and
scrape the excess back into the bag. Surprisingly, this will end up weighing
slightly more than using option 1 or 3. There is no excess air in the sifted our
so it can pack into every crevice of the measuring cup.
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O pt io n 3: – Sift a large amount of our into a bowl using a sifter or a ne
mesh strainer. Spoon sifted our into measuring cup and level o with the at
edge of a knife.
O pt io n 4 : – Some recipes call for our (and other ingredients) speci cally by
weight. The easiest way to measure by weight is to place a bowl or measuring
cup on a digital kitchen scale and zero out the weight of the bowl. On my
particular scale this is done by pressing the ‘ON’ button after the bowl is
resting on the scale. Most scales have a 'tare' button that will zero out the
weight. Start spooning our into the bowl until desired weight is achieved.
Up Next: Lesson 7 — Leavening Agents
All baked goods need to rise in some way while in the oven and there are many
ways to achieve airiness. I bet you will learn something you didn't already know
in the leavening lesson!
Science of Baking Class: Page 55
Lesson 7: Leavening Agents
Leavening refers to any agent that makes dough or batter rise and expand.
They create pockets of air or carbon dioxide that are held within the fat and
other ingredients of a batter or dough. When exposed to high heat these
pockets release steam and evaporate causing the ingredients to rise, leaving
behind tiny holes in the baked good. Those small holes create the 'crumb' of a
baked good.
In most cases, if leavening is left out of a recipe the nal product will be very
dense. Depending on what you are baking this could be good or bad. If you
don't have leaving in a cake it will most likely not be well received, however, if
you are making shortbread cookies no leavening is needed and the nal
cookie is still delicious with a great texture/crumb.
Leavening agents are divided into three main categories:
Che m ica l Le a v e ning Ag e nt s - Examples of chemical leavening agents are
baking soda and baking powder. Their function is to produce pockets of
carbon dioxide that release during baking causing rise in a baked good. These
are the most common forms of leavening in traditional baked goods.
M e cha nica l Le a v e ning Ag e nt s - This form of leavening uses ingredients
that are manipulated in some way to create air bubbles. Creaming fat and
sugar, whipping egg whites, or whipping heavy cream are examples of this
type of leavening.
Bio lo g ica l Le a v e ning Ag e nt s - Fermentation is used to produce carbon
dioxide in biological leavening agents. They include, yeast, ke r, sourdough
starter, and beer. These are most often used in bread making but can be used
in some baked goods as well.
Science of Baking Class: Page 56
Baking Soda & Baking Powder
B a king S o da
Baking soda, also referred to as sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate of soda, is
made up of sodium ions and bicarbonate ions. It can be manufactured or
naturally mined.
Recipes that contain baking soda must also contain an acid such as: vinegar,
lemon juice, milk, cream of tartar, molasses, applesauce, cocoa powder (not
Dutch-process), or brown sugar. When the acid and the baking soda (a base)
are mixed you get the classic childhood volcano reaction of millions of carbon
dioxide bubbles forming, foaming, and rising! The same basic idea happens in
baked goods only those bubbles (or carbon dioxide) leave behind air pockets
in the baked item making the texture light and airy.
B a king Po w de r
Baking powder consists of a few di erent ingredients: baking soda, an acid and
a dried starch (or ller) of some kind. It acts and performs in the same way as
baking soda but does not need an acid since it already contains cream of
tartar, or other form of acid. When added to wet ingredients, baking powder
will immediately start working to create carbon dioxide bubbles. When using
baking powder you want to put your prepared batter or dough in the oven as
quick as possible to get the most rise out of the immediate bubbles.
It is widely believed that baking soda and baking powder are interchangeable,
however, this is not the case. You can use baking powder in place of baking
soda (one to one) if you don't have it on hand. You can only use baking soda in
place of baking powder if there is also an acid in the recipe.
In the photo above you can see that the baking soda on the right mixed with
water does not product any air bubbles or zzing. Since baking powder
contains and acid and a base, carbon dioxide bubbles will form automatically
when the powder is mixed with liquid (in the bowl on the left).
Ho w t o M a ke B a king Po w de r
You can make your own baking powder with a 2 to 1 ratio of cream of tartar
and baking soda. In a small bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar and 1
tablespoon of baking soda. Place the mixture into a ne mesh sieve and sift
into another bowl. Do this three times to ensure the mixture is well combined.
Use as much as the recipe calls for.
Mechanical Leavening Agents
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If you've ever made a batch of cookies you will know that the rst thing you do
in a typical cookie recipe is cream butter and sugar. The creaming action is
producing its own leavening. We've already learned that granulated sugar is a
crystal and crystals have sharp edges that cut into the butter during mixing.
This (mechanical) action produces thousands of teeny tiny air bubbles within
the mixture that will cause a slight rise during baking. In most cookie recipes
there is also a chemical leavening agent that supports the rise.
Whipping egg whites to soft or sti peaks is also a common form of
mechanical leavening. When egg white are whisked or beaten at a very rapid
pace air bubbles become trapped in the whites. As we know, these air bubbles
create rise in baked goods. When this is done, it provides almost all the
structure in a baked good. The same can be achieved when heavy cream is
Up Next: Lesson 8 — How to Read a Recipe
It may sound strange to have to learn how to read a recipe, but there are some
speci cs that should always be noted before you start mixing and baking. Find
out what they are!
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Lesson 8: How to Read a Recipe
This may sound ridiculous but many recipes go awry simply because they
aren't read correctly. And seriously, it takes less than ve minutes to read a
recipe thoroughly! To ensure success when using a recipe, do it right the rst
time and follow these simple steps:
1. Read the recipe carefully from start to nish — from the rst ingredient to
the last step in the directions. Not while you are feeding the dog, or trying to
reason with a screaming toddler. This actually requires some level of focus!
Why is this so important? Because ingredients may need to be separated or
speci cally prepared in some way.
For example, a scone recipe may have two eggs in the ingredients list. One egg
for the dough and one for egg wash that goes on the top before baking. If you
don't read the directions before starting and add two eggs to the dough
instead of one you are going to end up with less than desirable results.
2. Read the recipe again and note any ingredients, tools, or supplies that you
don't have but need. Depending on whether or not you can make
substitutions, the recipe may need to be put on hold until you are able to
acquire what you need.
3. Check and double check cooking temperatures and times. The di erence
between 325° F and 375° F is a huge di erence in baking. Also, if a recipe says
to bake cookies for 22 minutes and you notice they are smelling and looking
quite done halfway through baking, test them and pull them out of the oven
if you think they are done! Trust your instincts. After all, it's possible there
could be a mistake on the recipe or your oven temp is way o !
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Test Oven Temperature
Proper oven temperature is a must to become a successful baker. Once you
have read through a recipe and preheated your oven to the appropriate
temperature, I recommend testing with an oven thermometer to see how
accurate your oven is.
It's as simple as placing an oven thermometer in the center of the oven on the
rack where you will be baking. When the oven beeps to alert you it is
preheated check the temp on the thermometer. If it's accurate, great! If not,
adjust your oven temp accordingly. Do this every so often to ensure proper
Unless a recipe speci es something di erent, most baked goods will be baked
with a rack on the third or fourth rung option from the bottom of the oven (or
slightly lower than the middle).
Science of Baking Class: Page 60
Test for Doneness
Testing for doneness when something is close to the nal stages of baking is
important so the nal baked good or dessert doesn't dry out or burn.
The easiest way to test if an item like mu ns, cakes, or brownies are done is to
stick a toothpick (or cake tester), straight down into the center of the item. Pull
it straight out to see if the toothpick is clean. Ideally the item should be
removed from the oven when a toothpick still has a small amount of crumbs
sticking to. This means the baked good is done but still moist.
I recommend testing baked goods three to ve minutes before the timer
sounds. That way if your oven temperature happens to be o you can adjust
cooking time.
Testing for doneness in cookies is a little trickier. Inserting a toothpick won't
help much since cookies are so thin. You will need to look at the edges and
tops of the cookies. The edges should be a light golden brown color and the
tops should be pu ed slightly in the center.
Up Next: Lesson 9 — How Baking Works
In the next lesson, it's time to discover how baking works and how ingredients
interact with each other. I hope you like my analogy!
Science of Baking Class: Page 61
Lesson 9: How Baking Works
Baking is considered a science because chemical reactions take place among
ingredients making them act in certain ways. Baking combines wet ingredients
with dry ingredients in a speci c order to create a batter, dough, or mixture.
The batter is then formed in some way or spread into a speci c pan and baked.
The combination, order, and amounts of ingredients along with baking times
and temperatures will determine the outcome of a baked good, whether it be
dry, moist, dense, chewy, light, aky, or airy.
Baking is much di erent than cooking. Let’s say you are making salsa and
accidentally add ½ cup of diced onion but the recipe only calls for ¼ cup. Your
salsa will indeed have more onion avor but it will not be ruined. However, if
you are making cookies and make the same mistake with butter, your results
could be disastrous. In cooking, ingredients and amounts can be adjusted
throughout the process. In baking, they cannot. Once your dough or batter is
mixed and goes in the oven it’s out of your hands, so accuracy and proper
measurements matter!
Baking is serious...fun, but serious, and I've been very serious throughout this
class teaching all sorts of interesting information and facts to help you a
become a better baker. Now let's nd out exactly what happens to all these
ingredients while making a typical chocolate chip cookie recipe in a not-soserious manner!
1. You decide to make chocolate chip cookies because you are, of course,
hungry for chocolate chip cookies.
Science of Baking Class: Page 62
2. You measure one half cup of unsuspecting unsalted room temperature
butter, 1/3 cup white granulated sugar, and 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
and add them to the bowl of a stand mixer tted with a paddle attachment.
3. You turn the mixer to medium speed and beat the butter and sugar
together (you already know this is called creaming but you want to tell
someone to spread your wealth of knowledge). The sugar crystals audibly
grind and crunch against the side of the bowl. That's a happy sound! Well, the
butter isn't thrilled. The sugar crystals didn't come to party nicely. They have a
job to do. They are here to cut and slice into the integrity (and structure) of the
butter. We all know party goers like this. Sweet on the outside, disastrous on
the inside, but they are doing a great job creating leavening by producing
thousands of teeny air bubbles. The butter may not be happy now, but don't
worry, butter will get its revenge!
Science of Baking Class: Page 63
4 . Next, you add one egg to the mixture and beat again. The egg white brings
moisture and structure to the party. The lecithin in the yolk binds the
ingredients together, like a big hug, and provides some fat content.
5. You add a splash of vanilla extract next, which does nothing more than add
avor. So little is necessary that it doesn’t really aid in moisture content at all.
6 . Dry ingredients come next in this recipe sequence. You obediently and
properly measure 1 1/4 cups of all-purpose our, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1
level teaspoon of baking powder and sift them into the dry ingredients.
Science of Baking Class: Page 64
7. The dry ingredients hit the wet ingredients, and everyone in the bowl starts
freaking out. The mixer blade starts turning, and the party gets real lively! The
our tries to take control and greedily starts sucking up all the moisture it can.
It also tries very hard to create gluten bonds and strands all over the place. It
achieves its goal in making gluten but the butter can't let the our get away
with this and ghts back, shortening the strands because it doesn't want to be
a dense, hockey puck of a cookie, that’s why. It wants to be a light and tender
cookie. (Little did our know, butter always wins in the cookie dough battle!)
The salt happily dissolves in the water content of the egg white, enhances the
avor of the our, and leaves everyone else alone. The baking powder starts
zzing and creates thousands of carbon dioxide bubbles while the mixer
circulates them evenly throughout the dough.
8 . One cup of chopped chocolate chips is added to the fun. The chocolate
chips evenly disperse and very brie y mingle at the party.
9 . The mixer turns o and everyone relaxes for a brief moment…until, the
baking powder realizes that unless it gets into a hot oven quickly it's going to
DIE! Literally, those thousands of tiny carbon dioxide bubbles that the baking
powder worked so hard to create are going to pop and the cookies are going
to de ate and shrivel like old balloons. Okay, that’s a little drastic, but they will
de nitely not rise as they should!
10 . The baking powder is now screaming at the baker as loud as it can to
hurry up and drop the cookie dough (by 1 ½ inch spoonfuls) onto the cookie
sheet and put them in the oven. If the miniature whispers are heard, the baker
will work quickly to get the cookies into a preheated 350°F oven.
Science of Baking Class: Page 65
11. The baker accepts the challenge, turns to load the cookies in the oven,
and realizes it’s not preheated. Smiles turn to frowns, and sadness and tears
take over. Now the baker is sad, the cookies are upset, and the day is ruined.
Let’s pretend this didn’t happen — DON’T FORGET TO PREHEAT THE OVEN!!
12. For 8-10 minutes the cookies relax and enjoy the warmth of the oven. They
emerge, perfectly golden brown on the edges and are left to cool until their
delicious demise. Those who aren't immediately eaten should be stored in an
airtight container. Keep tabs on them, they mysteriously disappear. ;)
What Just Happened?
On a greater or lesser scale, the same sort of reactions we just discussed are
taking place in all baked good batters and doughs.
Here's a rundown in very simple terms of what just happened above.
fat (butter) provides moisture to baked goods and when creamed with sugar
creates leavening
sugar makes baked goods taste sweet
eggs act as a binder to hold ingredients together
our adds structure to baked goods by creating gluten bonds
leavening agents give baked goods rise
In the nal lesson of this class you get to choose to make brownies or
nanciers. While you are making the recipe be thinking about what reactions
are taking place to achieve the end result. The more you do this with di erent
recipes the more likely it will be that you will be able to create your own
recipes or make successful substitutions, without researching what they
should be.
Up Next: Lesson 10 — Class Project
Hopefully you have learned a ton of new information and are prepared to get
baking! Next you'll choose a recipe to complete for your Instructables Baking
Science of Baking Class: Page 66
Lesson 10: Class Project — Get Baking!
Hopefully by now you've learned everything you need to know about
ingredients, the science behind them, and all about recipes. It's time to start
baking! You are more than welcome to make both of these recipes and at some
point I recommend it, but for now, choose which one you like best and get
Science of Baking Class: Page 67
Dark Chocolate Fudgy Brownies
Brownies require less e ort than a lot of baked goods. This is a great starting
point if you have never baked before and this recipe is delicious. Prepare to
bite into the best thick and chewy brownies ever!
To m a ke t his bro w nie re cipe y o u w ill ne e d t he f o llo w ing t o o ls :
Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer
8-Inch Square Pan
Rubber Spatula
Sifter or Fine Mesh Strainer
Large Bowl
Parchment Paper
Measuring Cups
Measuring Spoons
Cooling Rack or Hot Pad
Cutting Board
Da rk Cho co la t e Fudg y Bro w nie s
Ing re die nt s
1 cup all-purpose our
3/4 cup cocoa powder (not dutch process)
1 teaspoon instant co ee
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, plus extra for greasing pan
1 cup granulated white sugar
Science of Baking Class: Page 68
2 tablespoons sour cream
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, divided <------- remember to read through the
recipe rst!
D ire ct io ns
This is a very easy recipe to follow, but please remember to read through the
entire recipe and all the directions before you get started! ;)
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease an 8-inch square pan (9-inch square will work
too. The brownies just won't be quite as thick.) and line it with parchment
paper. Grease the parchment paper being careful not to tear it.
Science of Baking Class: Page 69
2. Using a sifter or a ne mesh strainer, sift together our, cocoa, co ee, baking
powder, and salt into a large bowl, making sure no lumps remain, and set
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer tted with paddle attachment (use a hand
mixer if you don't have a stand mixer) cream butter and sugar on medium
4. Add eggs, sour cream, and vanilla extract (while the mixer is running) and
beat until the eggs are well incorporated. Stop the mixer a few times and scrap
down the sides with a rubber spatula. This ensures all ingredients get mixed
5. Turn the mixer o and add dry ingredients. Mix again on low speed until the
ingredients are well incorporated. About 30 seconds or so.
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6. Add in one cup of chocolate chips. Mix just to incorporate.
7. Evenly spread the brownie batter into prepared pan and sprinkle remaining
chocolate chips on top.
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8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out
slightly sticky. Testing can be tricky with any recipe that has chocolate chips
baked inside. Make sure to pay attention to the toothpick to see if what's on it
is melted chocolate or raw batter. Remove pan from oven and let cool on a
wire rack (or hot pad).
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9. Once brownies are completely cool, grab the edges of the parchment paper
and lift the brownies out of the pan. Keep a rm grip on the parchment and
pull the edges away from each other so the brownies don't break in the center.
Transfer to a large cutting board. (You may need to run a knife around the
edges where there is not parchment to free the brownies.)
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10. Using a large sharp knife, cut brownies to desired size. Eat and enjoy!
If you have chosen to make these brownies, snap a photo and upload it in the
'I Made It' section below.
Blueberry Lemon Financiers
Science of Baking Class: Page 73
Financiers are dainty little cakes that are beautiful to look at and delicious to
eat. They require slightly more e ort than brownies but you will be happy with
the results, I promise! ;) Feel free to experiment with di erent fruits and
avorings. Many traditional nancier recipes are made with pistachios and/or
raspberries! :P
To m a ke t his
na ncie r re cipe y o u w ill ne e d t he f o llo w ing t o o ls :
Stand Mixer
Hand Mixer
Large Bowl
Measuring Cups
Measuring Spoons
6-Cavity Mini Loaf Pan or Standard 12-Cavity Mu n Pan
Rubber Spatula
Small Bowl
Sifter or Fine Mesh Strainer
Medium Saucepan
Cooling Rack or Hot Pad
Blue be rry Le m o n Fina ncie rs
Fo r t he Ca ke s
1 cup unsalted butter, browned
1 cup almond our, lightly packed
3/4 cup all-purpose our
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Science of Baking Class: Page 74
5 egg whites, beaten to sti peaks
zest of one lemon
1 cup fresh blueberries
Fo r t he G la z e (o pt io na l)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
D ire ct io ns
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease and our a six-cavity mini loaf pan or a
standard 12-cavity mu n pan.
2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat add one cup of butter. Bring the
butter to a light boil while stirring continuously. Continue to cook the butter
until it starts to brown. Once it starts to brown watch it carefully. It can go
from browned to burned in a matter of seconds. Remove from heat and set
aside to cool.
Science of Baking Class: Page 75
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer tted with paddle attachment add pre-sifted
almond our, all-purpose our, sugar, powdered sugar, and salt. Brie y mix on
low to combine ingredients.
4. In a large bowl whisk egg whites to sti peaks with a hand mixer. Set aside.
5. Pour cooled butter, vanilla extract, and lemon zest into the dry mixture. Mix
to incorporate.
6. Turn the mixer o and remove the bowl. Using a rubber spatula gently fold
in the egg whites. The goal with folding is to do it as gently as possible to avoid
popping all of those bubbles you created during whipping.
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7. Divide batter evenly among the six cavities in the loaf pan or 12 cavities in
the mu n pan. Press fresh blueberries into the tops of the cakes.
8. Place the pan in the oven and immediately turn it down to 350°F. Bake for
20-25 minutes or until the tops of the nanciers are a rich golden brown color.
Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
9. In a small bowl combine all glaze ingredients and stir until the mixture is
Science of Baking Class: Page 77
10. Drizzle over the tops of cooled nanciers. Eat and enjoy!
Congratulations! It required some e ort, but you just made delicious
nanciers! Snap a photo and post it in the 'I Made It' section below.
Thank You!
Thank you for taking the time to complete the Science of Baking class! I hope
you enjoyed it as much as I did.
I appreciate any feedback you may have and look forward to seeing and
hearing about your results. Now that you have a good knowledge base, I
encourage you to try new recipes and even create your own! If you decide to
make something delicious on your own please think about publishing an
Instructable to share with the community. We would love to see it!
Here are some recipes that can help you build upon your new skill set.
Cinnamon Spice Mu ns
Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Mango Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake
Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Mini Donuts
Dreamsicle Meltaway Cookies
Marble Swirl Cupcakes
Science of Baking Class: Page 78