In particular, chemistry is not grilling steaks, but trying to understand what goes on when steaks are
grilled. And it is not true either that cooking is chemical analysis: chemical analysis tries to understand
the chemical composition of food, it does not cook food. Making and studying are different jobs.
More generally, craft, technology and science are different activities, with different objectives.
However, scientific knowledge is useful, because it remains true that the phenomena involved in the
kitchen (browning of the steak during cooking, thickening of the mayonnaise sauce during making,
etc.) are chemical and physical transformations. As science is invited in the culinary curriculum, let’s
first look for the main phenomena that have to be considered. Ten only should probably be taught in
all culinary schools:
V/II - 1 (of 3)
What we make from culinary ingredients: Bread and other flour water mixtures
Many dishes prepared in the kitchen are made of a basic mixture of flour and water, known in cookery
as dough. Often in cooking this basic dough is mixed with other ingredients such as a raising agents,
eggs, sugar, and milk to make a large range of diverse products. These include breads, cakes, pastas
and quiches. Each of these products has a different ratio of flour and water, and is mixed with one or
several other agents to give all these products their associated textures on cooking.
Product % water % flour Other products
Bread 35 55 Salt, yeast
Cakes 20 25 Butter, eggs, sugar
Pasta 20 75 Eggs
Pastry 15 50 Butter
When the dough is cooked, the starch granules in the flour will swell, the flour proteins will coagulate,
and the resulting dough will gradually become hard as the amount of free water is reduced. Details for
the preparation and cooking process are given the below for making bread; the other introduced types
of dough are discussed in the following sections.
Bread is made from mixing flour, water, yeast and a little salt. Yeast is a living organism, made up of