Starches

In addition to flours, other starch products are also used in the bakeshop. Unlike flour, they are used primarily to thicken puddings, pie fillings, and similar products.The principles of thickening with starches are covered in Chapter 8.

The most important starches in dessert production are as follows.

1. Cornstarch has a special property that makes it valuable for certain purposes. Products thickened with cornstarch set up almost like gelatin when cooled. For this reason, it is used to thicken cream pies and other products that must hold their shape.

2. Waxy maize and other modified starches also have valuable properties.They do not break down when frozen, so are used for products that are to be frozen. Also,they are clear when cooked, and give a brilliant, clear appearance to fruit pie fillings.

Waxy maize does not set up firm like cornstarch but makes a soft paste,which has the same consistency hot and cold.Thus,it is not suitable for cream pie fillings.

3. Instant starches are precooked or pregelatinized, so they thicken cold liquids without further cooking.They are useful when heat will damage the flavor of the product, as in fresh fruit glazes (such as strawberry).

We have said that one of the main functions of fats in baking is to shorten gluten strands and tenderize the product.We can summarize the reasons for using fats in baked items as follows:

• To tenderize the product and soften the texture.

• To add moistness and richness.

• To increase keeping quality.

• To assist in leavening when used as creaming agents or when used to give flakiness to puff pastry, pie dough, and similar products.

Any fat acts as a shortening in baking because it shortens gluten strands and tenderizes the product. However, we usually use the word shortening to mean any of a group of solid fats, usually white and tasteless, that are specially formulated for baking.

Because shortenings are used for many purposes, manufacturers have formulated different kinds of fats with different properties. Following are the three main types of shortening.

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