Ever wonder what puts the wonder in Wonder Bread?
This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down On Science, saying would you believe … bubbles?
High-fiber-gluten-free bread may be good for us … but secretly, we crave Wonder Bread. Why? University of Manchester chemical engineer and bubble-ologist Grant Campbell explains.
When mixed with water, yeast and salt, wheat is unique in being the only edible grain that can trap carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide bubbles create pockets of gas that raise bread to its fluffy, delicious goodness.
So treasured is this culinary chemical reaction that bread all over the world is characterized by its fluffiness, or--as engineers call it--aerated structure. Healthier breads include bran from the wheat grain, but the bran pops the bubbles, creating a denser and, well, less Wonder-ful texture.
So the challenge on the food scientist’s plate is to get that healthy bran into bread without bursting its bubbles.
Until then, perfection will have to be defined by what’s on the inside. Mmmm … Nutella.
The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.