Last week’s blog post sparked a lot of discussion and debate on the topic of vegetables in (sweet) baking. It seems that everybody has an opinion, some are surprised with the idea, some are keen to try it and many already have and offered some great recipes. I have really enjoyed baking with various vegetables myself… and seeing the response of my taste testers, but more of that next week…. this week I promised to discuss how vegetables contribute more than just sweetness to the baking.
What else is there?
So what does starch contribute to baking ?
Starch is referred to as a complex carbohydrate. The carbohydrate bit means it is made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. The complex part means that the structure of starch is a long chain of these carbohydrates molecules all linked together in a chain. The carbohydrate is starch is the sugar glucose and starch is composed of a chain of hundreds of glucose molecules.
Starch is typically tasteless and odourless, its contribution in baking is a structural rather than flavoursome one. In the presence of heat and moisture starch granules will begin to swell and thicken. These swollen starch complexes form a scaffolding like network within the mix. When gluten is present it breaks down with heat and the starch absorbs the water it releases making the gluten dry and rigid, strengthening the structure even further. This starch-gluten structure gives baking its texture and rigidity and allows it to keep its shape once out of the oven.
When vegetables are used in baking the amount of flour required is reduced. This substitution of a natural starch in place of a refined one not only makes for a lighter, less stodgy cake, it also improves the nutritional content. Vegetables are packed full of vitamins, minerals and fibre. These all contribute to the positive health of our skin, hair, digestive system, mood, cholesterol levels and brain power.
What about a bit of water?
Beetroot gives a lovely texture to Dee’s Chocolate cake!
The final word
Tune in next week for Part 3 of the series where I will be sharing lots of recipes and letting you know what people thought.
In the mean time… if you have any comments, tips or experience to share please leave a comment below; I always love to hear from you and will be sure to reply!