What Type of Simple Chemical Reaction Occurs in Cakes?

Written by sawyer howard
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  • Introduction

    What Type of Simple Chemical Reaction Occurs in Cakes?

    Mixing ingredients in a bowl is only the beginning of what it takes to make a cake. The real work comes after all the ingredients are mixed and the batter is in the oven. Without the proper chemical reactions, that hard mixed batter would never produce a proper cake ready for icing.

    Without a precise balance of ingredients, cakes will be too dry, too wet or won't rise. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

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    Flour provides the structure for the cake. The gluten, a type of protein in the flour, becomes elastic and thick when exposed to water. The heat created by the oven provides energy to the proteins that causes them to expand. Additionally, water and heat cause the starch in the flour to gelatinise, allowing a firmness that further contributes to the structure of the cake.

    All-purpose flour or plain flour is usually used to bake cakes. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

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    Among other things, eggs act as a binding agent. In their raw state, eggs contain strands of proteins that are curled in on themselves. When exposed to heat, these proteins uncurl and begin attaching to other proteins nearby, creating a web of linked proteins and helping to bind the cake together.

    Eggs are used for binding in most baked goods, as well as other foods like meat loaf. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

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    Baking Powder/Baking Soda

    Baking powder is responsible for the cake rising. Made of baking soda, a base, and cream of tartar, an acid, baking powder creates a chemical reaction that produces carbon dioxide bubbles in the batter as it cooks. Baking soda may also be used for this purpose, but an acid, like orange juice, must be added as well to create the reaction.

    The main reason cakes, and cupcakes, rise is because of the CO2 bubbles pushing up through the batter. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

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    In addition to adding a sweet taste, sugar helps to keep the starch and proteins in the flour and eggs from hardening the cake too much. It does this by competing for the liquid in the cake, limiting the amount of water the flour can absorb and thereby limiting the gelatinisation process. Sugar also acts as a browning agent in the Maillard Reaction. The Maillard Reaction is activated by heat and occurs when the sugar comes in contact with amino acids, producing a caramelising effect.

    Sugar is mainly thought of as a popular sweetening agent. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

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