Baking is an ancient art of preparing food which makes use of low temperatures, usually in an open oven, but can be done also on hot rocks, or in hot ashes. The commonest baked food is bread but other forms of cooking are also done. Heat is transferred from the surface of baked breads, cookies, and cakes to their core. The core of these food items is called “browned butter” or “butter.” Baking cannot be performed by mechanical means alone, but must be performed with the aid of baking powder and baking soda or oil.
For making biscuits, cinnamon rolls, foccacia or scones, you require a baking powder mixed with baking soda and a yeast. Yeasts are available commercially in the form of powdered forms or rolled grains, which are also known as “baking powder.” The baking powder is mixed with water and yeast, and sometimes also with butter or milk for preparing biscuits. The yeast is used as a food for making bread. It is not necessary to use yeast for making cake or pastries.
Flour is also required for baking. Wheat flour is available commercially in different varieties. It has a fine texture and good flavor and is therefore preferred for cooking purposes. The main difference between wheat flour and pastry flour is that the former is coarser grained and the latter has a finer texture and therefore produces more elastic cakes and biscuits, whereas wheat leaves behind a tough coating.
Apart from baking powder and baking soda, vital ingredients are baking powder and butter. A basic mixture of all three is prepared and mixed with yeast and warm water for rising dough. Dough should be kneaded carefully so that the gluten doesn’t stick on the sides. Once the dough has formed, it can be rolled out and cut into desired shapes such as rectangle, square, circle, or any other shape.
Baking soda is the main ingredient used for flavoring cookies and cake. It gives the cookies a light flavor without clogging the digestive system of a person. Lemon juice or lime juice is used for making jams and jellies. Almond and coconut oil are both used for making cakes and cookies. Each of these ingredients has different types of flavors and nutritive values and are used individually or together for imparting specific characteristics to the baked products.
In the past, baking was done by heating a fire and keeping the flame close to the baking dishes. As time passed by, special techniques were developed for making cakes and biscuits more aesthetically attractive. In recent times, baking techniques have undergone radical changes. New machines are designed for baking which are very economical. Today baking is carried out by gas, electricity and microwave ovens and is now a very popular activity among all sections of society.