Staling is the change in texture and aroma of baked goods due to the change in structure and the loss of moisture by the starch granules. Stale baked goods have lost their fresh-baked aroma and are firmer, drier, and more crumbly than fresh products.
Prevention of staling is a major concern of the baker because most baked goods lose quality rapidly.
Staling can be slowed by these techniques.
1. Protecting the product from air.
Wrapping bread in plastic and covering cakes with icing are two examples.
Unfortunately, hard-crusted breads, which stale rapidly, should not be wrapped, or the crusts will become soft.These bread products should always be served fresh.
2. Adding moisture retainers to the formula.
Fats and sugars are good moisture retainers, and products high in these ingredients keep best.
Some of the best French bread has no fat at all, and if it is not served within hours of baking, it will begin to stale. For longer keeping, bakers often add a very small amount of fat and/or sugar to the formula.
Baked goods frozen before they become stale maintain quality for longer periods. They should be served very soon after thawing. Frozen breads may be reheated with excellent results if they are to be served immediately.
Refrigerating actually seems to speed staling rather than slowing it. Only baked goods that could develop health hazards, such as those with cream fillings, are refrigerated.
Loss of crispness is caused by absorption of moisture, so it is,in a sense,the opposite of staling.This is a problem with low-moisture products such as cookies and pie crusts.The problem is usually solved by proper storage in airtight wraps or containers to protect the products from moisture in the air. Prebaked pie shells should be filled as close to service time as possible.
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