Liquid Ingredients

Shelf life of liquid baking ingredients

Ever asked yourself, while whipping up a batch of cookies or brownies, why all the recipes tell you to mix liquid and dry ingredients separately? Well, there actually IS a method to the madness, as points out. The short answer is this: You want other dry ingredients (baking powder or soda, salt, etc.) evenly dispersed throughout the flour before adding the liquid mixture, which, when added, begins the formation of gluten. If the dry ingredients are well mixed, less stirring is needed when the liquid and dry ingredients are combined. More stirring leads to more gluten formation; for some recipes, that’s exactly what you don’t want.


Gluten is, it turns out, a HUGE factor in baking. If you're truly interested in the science behind it all, it is neatly boiled down for you at Here's a most concise summary:


1. Gluten is one of the main "strengtheners" in baking. (Egg whites are another.)

2. Gluten is formed when the two proteins in flour--glutenin and gliadin--are added to moisture.

3. Different types of flours contain different amounts of these proteins, and thus vary in the degree and efficiency with which they form gluten (or what Baking 911 refers to as a "magical and elastic gluten network.’)

4. Different types of foods, then, require different levels of gluten. Cookies, cake batter, and pie crust dough require fairly "weak gluten" while bread dough needs strong gluten.


Which brings us to liquids. They're not there just to soften everything or add flavor; they serve to "hydrate the flour, for gluten formation, and to hydrate the starch, for gelatinizing, which results in formation of the basic structure of a baked product." When using oil, the goal is to "coat each particle of flour, which causes a lack of contact with moisture and helps prevent gluten development."


If this isn’t totally clear, don’t worry about it. Just follow the directions in the recipe.


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