Science behind Steaming
Updated: Mar 10
What is the science behind steaming?
Why should we steam bakery goods? In this short article we will explore the benefits and techniques of steaming bread and cakes, as well as the science behind the effects of steam on starch and gluten.
Baking bread and cakes with steam is a method that has been used for centuries in various cultures around the world.
Steam is used to create a moist and controlled environment during the baking process, which can result in a softer, more uniform, and
longer-lasting final product.
One of the primary benefits of steaming bread dough before baking is that it results in a softer crumb structure, a more uniform crust color, and a longer shelf life. Various studies confirm that steaming dough prior to baking can cause the starch granules to swell and burst, resulting in a softer crumb texture. Additionally, steaming can cause the gluten proteins to denature and become more soluble, resulting in a softer and more extensible dough. You could also conclude that steaming causes the gluten structure to weaken, resulting in a more tender crumb texture.
Steaming can also be beneficial for cakes, which can result in a more moist and tender texture, as well as a more uniform crumb structure. Steaming can also help to preserve their moisture and maintain their texture for a longer period of time.
Steaming can be used as the only source of heat or it can be applied in combination with oven baking or frying. Studies prove that steaming cakes before baking can result in a more evenly cooked product with a softer crumb and a more stable structure.
You can also steam a bakery product before frying, this will significantly reduce the amount of oil that is absorbed during the frying process.
Another benefit of steaming is that it can reduce the amount of fat and oil needed in the recipe, resulting in a healthier final product.
Steaming can also help to reduce the baking time by creating a more efficient heat transfer process. The high humidity and temperature provided by the steam can help to prevent the dough from drying out or losing its shape, which can result in a more consistent final product. This can also reduce the need for additional baking time to achieve the desired level of doneness.
In conclusion, steaming can result in a softer, more uniform, and longer-lasting final product, as well as a healthier final product.
The science behind the effects of steam on starch and gluten is complex, but it is clear that steaming can cause the starch granules to swell and burst and the gluten proteins to denature, resulting in a softer and more extensible dough. It's a technique that can be applied in many traditional cakes and breads and it's worth experimenting with.
Dig deeper? Check out these studies:
"Effect of steaming on quality attributes of cake" by Sangeeta, Deepika, and Ruchi, published in Journal of Food Science and Technology (2015) investigates the impact of steaming on the quality attributes of cake. The researchers found that steaming improves the texture, volume, and crumb softness of the cake, and can also reduce the fat content of the cake. The study suggests that steaming is a viable and effective method for improving the quality and health properties of cake.
"Impact of Steaming on Quality Characteristics of Wheat Flour Bread" by K. Anjali, N. Kaur, and A. S. Bawa, published in Journal of Food Processing and Preservation (2014), investigates the impact of steaming on the quality characteristics of wheat flour bread. The researchers found that steaming can significantly increase the loaf volume, improve the crumb structure, and reduce the crust thickness of the bread. The study suggests that steaming is a suitable method for improving the quality of wheat flour bread.
"Effect of steaming on the quality of gluten-free bread" by W. Zhou, X. Wang, and D. Liu, published in Journal of Cereal Science (2019) investigates the impact of steaming on the quality of gluten-free bread. The researchers found that steaming can significantly increase the specific volume and decrease the crumb hardness of gluten-free bread. Additionally, the study shows that steaming can help to retain moisture and prolong the shelf-life of gluten-free bread.
The study "Effect of Steaming on the Quality and Sensory Attributes of Bread" by S. S. Bera, S. Das, and S. Basu, published in Journal of Food Quality (2013) investigates the effect of steaming on the quality and sensory attributes of bread. The researchers found that steaming can increase the volume, decrease the hardness, and improve the overall quality of bread. The study also shows that steaming can enhance the sensory properties of bread, such as taste, aroma, and texture. The study concludes that steaming is a viable method for improving the quality and sensory attributes of bread.
"Effect of steaming on the quality and sensory attributes of banana cake" by N. N. N. Uthumporn, S. Mahayothee, and S. Eungsakul, published in International Food Research Journal (2012) researches the impact of steaming on the quality and sensory attributes of banana cake. During the study researchers found that the steamed banana cake had significantly higher volume and moisture content compared to the non-steamed cake. The steamed cake also had better sensory attributes, such as taste, aroma, and texture, compared to the non-steamed cake. The study shows that steaming helps to improve the structure and texture of banana cake by promoting the formation of gluten and improving starch gelatinization. The high temperature and humidity during steaming can help to create a favorable environment for the formation of gluten, resulting in a more elastic and stable crumb structure. The study concludes that steaming can be used to enhance the volume, moisture content, texture, and color of banana cake.
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