Raising agents play a very important role in baking to achieve the right texture of baked goods.
It is a substance or process which helps to generate, release or entrap steam, gas (CO2, NH3), or air in a dough or batter either during cooking or mixing to increase the volume or surface area of those in order to get a lighter product after baking or cooking.
Types of Raising/Leavening agents or process
Biological Raising agent
Chemical Raising agent
Natural Raising agent
Mechanical Raising agent
The combination method of Raising
BIOLOGICAL RAISING AGENT
Yeast is known as a biological raising agent in the bakery, which is mainly used for different fermented dough and batters mainly in bread.
Saccharomyces cerevisae is the biological name for the most used yeast in the industry which is also known as Baker’s or Brewer’s Yeast.
Yeast is a single-celled fungus, capable of reproduction by a budding process in presence of four elements: moisture, food, air, and warmth, yeast can be kept alive but inactive by removing any of that one. The main purpose of using yeast in baking is to serve as a catalyst in the process of fermentation.
When all the four criteria are present yeast converts carbohydrates into CO2 and ethyl alcohol (C2H5OH) with the help of four enzymes. These enzymes help to convert complex sugar into simple sugar and then also convert simple sugar to CO2 and alcohol.
NAME OF ENZYME
Converts maltose to dextrose
Inverts cane and beet sugar/sucrose to dextrose or fructose
Converts inverted sugar and dextrose to CO2 & C2H5OH
Converts fats to fatty acids
Softens flour protein i.e. gluten to give better stretch-ability.
CO2 is the primary raising gas that enhances the volume of yeasted bread, and the alcohol evaporates during the baking process leaving behind a delicious flavour and distinctive bread aroma. The activity of the yeast can be controlled by the addition of salt.
Yeast works best in the temperature range of 35o to 450 C and it completely dies temperature above 65o C.
Types of Yeast available in the market:
FRESH/WET/COMPRESSED YEAST: It is sold in cake form. It has a beige colour, crumbly texture, and smell like overripe or slightly rotten pineapple. In fresh yeast the warmth has been removed by freezing to make it inactive. This contains 40% yeast and 60% moisture. The shelf life of this yeast is 10-14 days in the refrigerator. Freezing of this yeast is not recommended as water can become frozen and expanded to rupture the yeast cells. When fresh yeast gets spoiled it becomes dark in color and soft as it loses the ability to hold moisture.
ACTIVE DRY YEAST: it is kept alive and inactive by removing moisture from it. This has a remarkably good shelf life; almost one year. It is available as small round grains. Very popular among home bakers.
INSTANT DRY YEAST: it can be used directly with the flour; the making of yeast ferment is not required for this variety. It is sold in vacuum packets as this type of yeast is kept alive and inactive by removing both air and moisture.
CHEMICAL RAISING AGENTS
Few very popular chemicals raising agents are
BAKING SODA: Sodium Bi Carbonate (NaHCO3). It reacts in a moist acidic medium to release CO2 as major raising gas. It will not work if no acidic ingredients are in the recipe. Acidic ingredients can be like fruit juice, sour cream, buttermilk, cocoa, vinegar, etc.
Too much baking soda can cause a soapy taste in final products. Baking soda must be stored in a cool dry place in an airtight container.
BAKING POWDER: Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate, but it includes the acidic agent already (cream of tartar), and also a drying agent (usually starch) which helps the powder to avoid humidity and prevent releasing of gas inside the container. To make the baking powder more affordable, mono-calcium phosphate can be used in place of the tartaric acid.
CREAM OF TARTAR: this fine powder is a residue from wine fermentation casks. It doesn’t directly work as a raising agent but helps to activate the baking soda and also an important part of baking powder. Cream of tartar also helps to strengthen egg protein so that it can hold more air after whisking.
AMMONIUM CARBONATE/ SALT OF HARTSHORN/SAL VOLATILE: Very useful raising agent generates ammonia and CO2 during baking. But the repulsive smell of ammonia is the main problem to use this. Mainly used with strong flavoring agents or in a product which is baked for complete dryings like cookies or biscuits.
Georges-Auguste Escoffier (1847–1935), the greatest chef of his time, is still today revered by chefs and gourmets as the father of twentieth-century cookery. His two main contributions were (1) the simplification of classical cuisine and the classical menu, and the reorganization of the kitchen. Escoffier rejected what he called the “general confusion” of the old menus, in which sheer quantity seemed to be the most important factor. Instead, he called for order and diversity and emphasized the careful selection of one or two dishes per course, dishes that followed one another harmoniously and delighted the taste with their delicacy and simplicity. Escoffier’s books and recipes are still important reference works for professional chefs. The basic cooking methods and preparations we study today are based on Escoffier’s work. His book Le Guide Culinaire, which is still widely used, arranges recipes in a simple system based on main ingredient and cooking method, greatly simplifying the more complex system handed down from Carême. Learning classical cooking, according to Escoffier, begins with learning a relatively few basic procedures and understanding basic ingredients.
Escoffier’s second major achievement, the reorganization of the kitchen, resulted in a streamlined workplace that was better suited to turning out the simplified dishes and menus he instituted. The system of the organization he established is still in use today, especially in large hotels and full-service restaurants.
NATURAL RAISING AGENT
Steam or water vapour is the natural raising agent and it works on almost all bakery products. The moisture presents in dough or batter during cooking converts into steam which creates a pressure upward to make a lighter and fluffy products. Eg: pita bread pockets, Indian chapatti, panipuri etc.
MECHANICAL RAISING AGENT/PROCESS
WHISKING: this a process where using balloon beater/hand whisk liquid (mainly egg, egg white, cream, or water – protein solution) are agitated to incorporate air bubbles to make the liquid foamy or light, for example; whole egg sabayon for sponge cake or Spanish omelet, whipped cream for mousse, soufflé or other desserts.
To understand why introducing air bubbles makes egg proteins uncurl, you need to know a basic fact about the amino acids that make up proteins. Some amino acids are attracted to water; they’re hydrophilic, or water-loving. Other amino acids are repelled by water; they are hydrophobic, or water-fearing. Egg-white proteins contain both hydrophilic and hydrophobic amino acids. When the protein is curled up, the hydrophobic amino acids are packed in the centre away from the water and the hydrophilic ones are on the outside closer to the water. When an egg protein is up against an air bubble, part of that protein is exposed to air and part is still in the water. The protein uncurls so that its water-loving parts can be immersed in the water—and its water-fearing parts can stick into the air. Once the proteins uncurl, they bond with each other—just as they did when heated—creating a network that can hold the air bubbles in place
CREAMING: Creaming is one of the most important mixing methods used in the different recipes. It incorporates the maximum amount of air bubbles created by dry crystalline sugar, typically fine granulated white table or super-fine, or brown sugar, beaten with a plastic solid fat (stick butter or margarine, shortening or lard), so a recipe will rise in the oven and be light in texture when baked. The cake rises from these air bubbles incorporated expanding from the heat of the oven, steam generated from the liquid ingredients, and from carbon dioxide generated from the chemical liveners or baking powder and/or baking soda. Recipes mixed with the Creaming Method, are typically SHORTENED (BUTTER) CAKES and some COOKIES. You will recognize it when the recipe indicates: “Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy”; or “Beat butter and sugar together until light in colour and creates soft peak”;
This can be done by beating the fat and sugar/flour together or by rubbing fat with flour/sugar on a surface following a circular motion.
LAMINATION: This method is designed to produce a laminated structure in which thin layers of tough fat are interleaved with equally thin layers of dough. When we bake the pastry; the thin layer of the fat melts and form oily layers between two leaves of dough preventing them from sticking together, or simply it lubricates the doughy layers. As the heat penetrates more, the water in the doughy layer as well as in fat layers changes into steam. The steam finds its way between the various layers of dough and causes expansion of elastic gluten strands or films of the dough by pushing lubricated doughy layers apart from each other. This produces a great increase in the volume of the piece of the pastry. Later the gluten of the flour is coagulated while the excess water is dried out, so by that time it is properly cooked and able to retain the shape and fluffy volume.
Example: Puff pastry, croissant, Danish pastry, Indian lachha bread, etc.
SIEVING: While sieving flour or powder sugar those powder fall on the surface forming a pile which entraps air, this also considers as a minor raising process.
While a baking product is made using more than one of those major methods of raising they are known as raised by combination methods.
Few popular examples:
Danish Pastry: Lamination and biological
Cakes: creaming, whipping(mechanical), and chemical