Scientists in the Netherlands report an advance toward unraveling one of the culinary world's long-standing puzzles: How to maintain the crispy quality of bread crust. The findings could help prolong the coveted crunchiness of bagels, French bread, and other bakery products, the researchers say.
In the new study, Neleke van Nieuwenhuijzen, Marcel Meinders, Ton van Vliet, and colleagues point out that scientists have known for years that dry bread crust starts losing its crispness when water migrates into the crust, resulting in a perceived loss of freshness that turns off consumers. Details of the mechanisms involved in this effect, however, have remained a mystery until now.
The scientists baked wheat bread under different moisture conditions, vapor pressures, and temperatures and then studied the water content and texture of the resulting crusts using sensitive laboratory instruments.
They found that water content and water movement in the bread during and after baking were the key factors that determine the crispness of crusts and its retention. By modifying these factors, bakers can optimize bread ingredients to produce crisper, longer-lasting crusts, the researchers say.
- van Nieuwenhuijzen et al. Water Content or Water Activity: What Rules Crispy Behavior in Bread Crust? Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2008; 0 (0): 0 DOI: 10.1021/jf800522c
- van Nieuwenhuijzen et al. Water Uptake Mechanism in Crispy Bread Crust. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2008; 0 (0): 0 DOI: 10.1021/jf800537b
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