Culinary Science with Prof. Dr. Sibel Ozilgen: 5 Baking Experiments

Meet the professor who is transforming Turkish food with baked goods experimentation.

Like a fingerprint (2021) by Prof. Dr. Sibel OzilgenOriginal Source: Faculty of Fine Arts, Gastronomy and Culinary Arts Department

Research chefs are the best scientists

The kitchen is a place of science. As with any scientific experiment, the results of the cooking process must be analyzed to understand how the methods influence the end results. Understanding the unique chemical structures of foods, and underlying scientific principles in each step of the preparation process and their effects on the resultant dish enables our chefs to perfect existing recipes and innovate in the kitchen. 

Research Chefs are the Best Scientists (2020) by Prof. Dr. Sibel OzilgenOriginal Source: Faculty of Fine Arts, Gastronomy and Culinary Arts Department

This understanding of the scientific process is what makes Yeditepe University a global leader in both traditional and modern Turkish cuisine: Yeditepe University is home to the only Department of Gastronomy and Culinary Arts to hold a PATENT for food product development.

Kitchen as a R&D Laboratory (2020) by Prof. Dr. Sibel OzilgenOriginal Source: Faculty of Fine Arts, Gastronomy and Culinary Arts Department

Innovating the Turkish cuisine

Food engineer Sibel Ozilgen is Head of the Gastronomy and Culinary Arts Department of Yeditepe University. She is the author of the first International Culinary Science textbook written by a Turkish academician. Her expertise is focused on food and science. A key component in Prof Sibel Ozilgen course 'Culinary Science Laboratory' is experimentation. Here are five experiments to inspire you to start experimenting with food. 

How elastic is your dough? (2020) by Prof. Dr. Sibel OzilgenOriginal Source: Faculty of Fine Arts, Gastronomy and Culinary Arts Department

#1: Isolate gluten with water

Gliadin and glutenin are the two major protein components in wheat flour. Glutenins provide the elasticity and strength of the dough; gliadins ensure the elastic structure of the dough. When water and flour are mixed, gliadin and glutenin combine to form weak gluten (a cereal protein) networks. 

Kneading is required for a better network (2020) by Prof. Dr. Sibel OzilgenOriginal Source: Faculty of Fine Arts, Gastronomy and Culinary Arts Department

Kneading makes more organized gluten networks.; dough becomes stronger and stretchable.

13% is spreadable (2020) by Prof. Dr. Sibel OzilgenOriginal Source: Faculty of Fine Arts, Gastronomy and Culinary Arts Department

The stronger gluten structure spreads better, holds more gas and expands more easily. For chewy products such as bread use flour rich in gluten (around 13%), for less elastic products such as cakes and cookies use flours less in gluten (around 7%). Most of the cereal grains, such as, wheat, oats, and barley, contain gluten, but the amounts and the structures of their glutens are different.

Baking powder vs Baking sodaOriginal Source: Faculty of Fine Arts, Gastronomy and Culinary Arts Department

#2: Chemical leavening agents

Baking soda and Baking powder are both chemical leavening agents used in baking. They produce carbon dioxide gas and cause baked goods to rise. Although they are both leavening agents, the two are not interchangeable.

Baking powder vs Baking sodaOriginal Source: Faculty of Fine Arts, Gastronomy and Culinary Arts Department

Baking powder contains baking soda, which is an alkali substance and an acidic ingredient in the same package. When liquid is added, they come together and give a reaction to produce carbon dioxide.

Baking powder vs Baking sodaOriginal Source: Faculty of Fine Arts, Gastronomy and Culinary Arts Department

Baking soda is a basic substance and it does not contain an acidic ingredient in the same package, therefore, it requires an acidic ingredient in the recipe to produce carbon dioxide.

The dough has a gas (2020) by Prof. Dr. Sibel OzilgenOriginal Source: Faculty of Fine Arts, Gastronomy and Culinary Arts Department

#3: Fermentation

Fermentation is a major step in making some baked products, such as bread. During fermentation, biological leavening agent, the yeast ( mainly Saccharomyces cerevisiae, baker’s yeast), converts the sugar present in the flour into distinctive flavor and aroma componds, and carbon dioxide. The dough rises carbon dioxide gas production.

Holes in the bread (2020) by Prof. Dr. Sibel OzilgenOriginal Source: Faculty of Fine Arts, Gastronomy and Culinary Arts Department

In the dough, gas produced by either chemical or biological leavening agents are trapped by gluten network structure. During baking, gas expands with increased heat. Therefore, the volume of the food increases. At the end of the baking process, the gas bubbles are transformed into semi-rigid structure, and small holes are formed.

Tender and crumbly! (2020) by Prof. Dr. Sibel OzilgenOriginal Source: Faculty of Fine Arts, Gastronomy and Culinary Arts Department

#4: Textural properties

Tenderness and flakiness are the primary quality attributes of baked food products. In batter or dough, lipids physically prevent a contact between water and gluten (flour protein) by coating the gluten molecules. Therefore, products become more tender and crumbly, the lipid said to shorten the dough. 

Flaky (2020) by Prof. Dr. Sibel OzilgenOriginal Source: Faculty of Fine Arts, Gastronomy and Culinary Arts Department

Flakiness is characterized by the thin dough layers within the pastry. The lipid placed in between dough layers melts during baking and leaves empty spaces. Steam collected in these empty spaces lifts the layers of the dough.

Maillard in Turkish simit (2020) by Prof. Dr. Sibel OzilgenOriginal Source: Faculty of Fine Arts, Gastronomy and Culinary Arts Department

#5: Maillard reaction

Maillard reaction is responsible for the brown color and nutty flavor of some foods such as cakes, cookies, bread crust, Turkish simit (shown in the photo), fried potatoes, roasted meat, toast, and coffee. Maillard reaction is a browning reaction caused by the reaction of reducing sugar proteins and amino acids in foods, especially during heat treatment.

Credits: Story

https://www.routledge.com/Cooking-as-a-Chemical-Reaction-Culinary-Science-with-Experiments/Ozilgen/p/book/9781138597129

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