What is Baking?
Baking is the final step in making yeast-leavened (bread, buns, rolls, crackers) and chemically-leavened products (cakes, cookies). It’s a thermal process that uses an oven, which transfers heat to the dough pieces via:
- Conduction through heated surfaces
- Convection through hot air
- Radiation from heat sources such as flames
The heat in turn activates a series of physicochemical changes, responsible for transforming the raw dough into a baked good with a firm, dry crust and a soft crumb.
Baking is probably as ancient as human kind. The first civilizations in recorded history, the Egyptians and Mesopotamian people, cultivated wheat. They learned the art and craft of baking bread after discovering that wheat kernels could be eaten in a palatable form by grinding and turning them into flour, and then adding water to create paste which could be cooked and consumed. At the time, fire and manual work were key for the development of primitive baking processes.1
How does it work?
Baking sets the final structure to baked goods. It involves simultaneous heat and mass transfer phenomena. The heat travels from the surrounding air into the interior of the dough or batter while moisture and other liquid compounds travel/escape from the core towards the exterior or surrounding air due to evaporation.2
While both yeast and chemical leaveners can result in gas development and volume build-up, yeast is essential for the development of unique flavors in breads and some baked goods.
Baking of yeast-leavened bakery products (dough-based systems)
Coming out of the final proofer, the bread dough is well aerated with a typical internal temperature close to that of the proof box, around 35°C (95°F). As the dough pieces enter the oven, their surface temperature begins to increase and heat transfers slowly towards the core of the product. The oven temperature can be set, according to the type of product being processed, at any point between 200–300°C (390–570°F).
In general, there are three major stages in the baking process: expansion of the dough, drying of the surface, and crust browning. These can be subdivided into the following stages (in the order of temperature increase):2,3,4
- Formation and expansion of gases (oven spring). A rapid rise in volume takes place at the beginning of baking at a core temperature of 35–70°C (95–158°F). This rise creates the oven spring. Five events occur simultaneously to produce the oven...