The Loh Down On Science

Cake Walk

Oh no!  They’ve put Betty Crocker in a lab!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

And on the physics of cake.

Meet researchers from Leuven Food Science and Nutrition Research Centre in Belgium. They investigated the role of each ingredient during the cake baking process. What’d they cook up?

A treatise (emphasis on treat) on what happens inside a confection during its creation.

Picture a batter of flour, sugar, egg, and butter. Add heat. Starch particles absorb water, swell, and gel. Boom! The edible building blocks of cake are born.

Egg proteins? They coagulate, serving as mortar. As this solidifies, the fats in butter trap moisture and air. This keeps crumbs tender, their environment, airy--like a sponge.

The sugar? Besides its tongue-fluttering flavor, it slows the process down. Each ingredient has time to do its thing. This way, as goo turns into goodie, it expands and rises properly, locking in all its scrumptious goodness.

As to the complex differences between chocolate, marble, and red velvet? More scientific research is always needed. Where do I volunteer?

 

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.

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