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03 November 2020

Theleavening is a fundamental biological process in the preparation of many foods, such as bread, pizza, cakes and other baked goods, which transforms a dense and compact dough into a soft, fluffy and palatable final product. The magic ofleavening lies in the activity of microorganisms, mainly yeasts, which act on the ingredients of the dough, producing gases that increase its volume.

BUT LEAVENING-WHAT IS THAT?

BUT LEAVENING-WHAT IS THAT?

Lavening begins when yeast, a single-celled fungus, is added to the dough. The most commonly used yeasts are theSaccharomyces cerevisiae, for baked goods, and theSaccharomyces pastorianus, for beer and wine production. These microorganisms feed on the sugars in flour, converting them into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide through a process calledalcoholic fermentation. It is the carbon dioxide produced that causes the dough to swell, creating the characteristic air bubbles that make bread and other leavened products soft and light.

BUT LEAVENING-WHAT IS THAT?

There are 3 types of leavening:

  1. Physical Leavening. Physical leavening is a process that does not involve chemical reactions or the activity of microorganisms such as yeasts, but relies on the introduction of air, or steam, inside a dough. A classic example ofphysical leavening occurs when egg whites are beaten to stiff peaks: beating the egg white incorporates many small air bubbles that, once in the oven, expand due to the heat, making the final product fluffy and light. This type of leavening is typical of some cakes that include whipped egg whites, where there is no need to add yeast because the volume and fluffiness are guaranteed by the air trapped during whipping.
  2. Chemical Leavening. Chemical leavening is a process that causes doughs and compounds to swell and rise without the use of microorganisms, such as yeasts. This type of leavening occurs through the chemical reaction between two substances: an acid and a base. When these two substances meet, in the presence of moisture (such as water in the dough), they react to produce carbon dioxide (CO2), which forms bubbles inside the dough, causing it to swell and become fluffier and lighter. Thechemical leavening is widely used in the preparation of cakes, such as cakes and muffins, due to its ability to act quickly and require no waiting time for leavening.
  3. Organic Leavening. Organic leavening is a natural process that causes doughs, such as bread or pizza dough, to swell and rise. This occurs through the action of live microorganisms, mainly yeast and lactic acid bacteria, which feed on the sugars in the dough. As they eat these sugars, they produce carbon dioxide (CO2) and ethyl alcohol through a process called alcoholic fermentation. The carbon dioxide that forms creates bubbles within the dough, causing it to swell and become fluffier and lighter. Theorganic leavening not only helps to give volume and fluffiness to baked goods, but also helps to improve their flavor and digestibility

NATURAL OR ORGANIC LEAVENING?

Between the termsbiological leavening andnatural leavening there is some confusion; they are often understood to be the same process, but they are not the same thing.

  • Natural leavening is a natural process that occurs through the activity of microorganisms such as yeasts and lactic acid bacteria, which convert the sugars in the dough into carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol through alcoholic fermentation.
  • Natural leavening refers to the use ofmother yeast or mother dough: a dough of water and flour leftto ferment naturally. This type of yeast is composed not only ofSaccharomyces cerevisiae (the brewer's yeast), but includes a variety of species ofSaccharomyces,Candida and several lactic acid bacteria such asLeuconostoc,Lactobacillus andWeissella. These microorganisms work together to ferment doughs, and the result is a baked product with a richer and more complex flavor and texture, as well as better shelf life.
NATURAL OR ORGANIC LEAVENING?

Whilebiological leavening describes the general process involving living microorganisms,natural leavening focuses more specifically on the use of a sourdough starter that contains a variety of microorganisms and contributes to a distinctive flavor creation and texture of the final product.

5 THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR FOR GOOD LEAVENING

Various factors can influence the effectiveness of leavening, including:

  1. Temperature.The optimal temperature for leavening is between 25°C and 30°C. Temperatures that are too low slow down the process, while those that are too high can kill the yeast.
  2. Type of yeast.There are various types of yeast, including fresh, dry and instant yeast, each with specific characteristics and activation times.
  3. Quantity of yeast.The amount of yeast used affects the leavening time; more yeast can speed up the process, while less yeast takes longer.
  4. Humidity. A humid environment is favorable for leavening: if your environment is very dry, we recommend putting a small bowl of water in the oven during baking to maintain a good percentage of moisture.
  5. Additional Ingredients.Ingredients such as sugar can promote leavening, while salt can slow it down-that's why it's important not to mix yeast and salt directly.

Theleavening is a complex process on which the success of a cake or bakery depends, but it's also a culinary adventure that everyone should try at least once in their life! Yes, there are various factors to consider, but don't be intimidated!

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced cook, remember: every great journey begins with one small step. Make this moment your own, turn on the oven and get ready to wow yourself and your friends with your fluffy, light baked goods. The art of leavening awaits, are you ready to take on the challenge?

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