Also Known As Browning
What is the Maillard Reaction?
The Maillard reaction, or browning, is what gives baked goods color. It occurs when proteins undergo a chemical reaction with reducing sugars when heat is applied, creating flavors, aroma, and crust coloring in any baked goods possible of producing a crust.
Proteins, peptides and the free amino groups of amino acids react with free reducing sugars during the baking process to create this effect in bread, rolls, crackers, cakes, biscuits and many more baked goods.
Lactose, Maltose, Fructose, and Glucose are the common reducing sugars found in breads. Flour contains most of the free amino acids such as lysine, alanine, cystine and proline. The reducing sugars and amino acids react together in three distinct stages to complete the Maillard reaction.
The initial stage is undetectably colorless on crust and enables the sugars as well as the amino acids to condensate. Moving into the intermediate stage which ranges from colorless to light yellow crust, the sugars dehydrate and become fragments, at the meantime the amino acids begin to degrade as well.
The final stage is where the most color is produced and exhibited as golden brown on the crust of the baked item. Polymerization of Aldehyde-amine compounds and formation of heterocyclic nitrogen compounds occur in the last stage. Once each stage has passed, the Maillard reaction is complete and many aromatic and flavor compounds are produced yielding a high quality baked good that exhibits positive final product attributes such as crust color, crumb grain, volume, and mouth feel.
The Maillard reaction can occur at room temperature around 20-25 ℃ (68-77 ℉) in the presence of oxygen. When the temperature is over 30℃ (80 ℉), the reaction rate starts to increase. With every 10 ℃ (50 ℉) difference, the reaction rate would increase at least 3 times. Over the temperature of 80 ℃ (176 ℉), the reaction rate will be consistent and unaffected by temperature or oxygen level.