Chemistry

While chemistry is present in so much of patisserie, it takes on an especially important role when using thickening and gelling agents.

Best known for their uses in “molecular” cuisine, each of these agents have unique properties that, when used properly, deliver interesting, unusual and exacting results.

Most gelling and thickening agents are hydrocolloids, and include:

A notable, non-hydrocolloid with thickening properties is Lecithin, which is often used to add elasticity to flour-based dough and to stabilize foams.

Starches are also often used to thicken. They include:

  • Amylose-rich
  • Amylopectin-rich
  • Cereal
  • Root (e.g., potato, arrowroot, tapioca)
  • Modified
  • Instant

With the exception of instant varieties, all starches must be cooked to activate them. If they are undercooked, they tend to be too thin, gritty, and are prone to weeping; overcooked, again they tend to be too thin and are stringy and extremely clear.

As I’ve indicated previously, chemistry isn’t my strongest suit. And I remain undecided about “molecular gastronomy.” Nevertheless, having the chance to play with these products and witness their seemingly impossible results has been a treat.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s