Scientific Principles and Techniques Used in Modern Pastry

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the process of coagulation
  • Describe the process of gelatinization
  • Describe the process of crystallization
  • Describe the use of hydrocolloids
  • Describe the process of spherification
  • Describe molecular gastronomy techniques used in the pastry shop
  • Describe the use of low temperature and sous-vide cooking in the pastry shop

Today we understand more than we once did about how ingredients of food scientifically interact with one another and how to change them to make them different using methods such as jellifying, powdering, foaming—methods common to what is known as molecular gastronomy. As a result, modern pastry chefs are making amendments to time-honoured recipes to suit the modern palate. They are not cutting corners to make a less professional or delicious product. They are using new technology and knowledge that was not available 100 years ago, and they want to explore the creative side of pastry.

This creativity sometimes comes with an expectation of total freedom in the kitchen; an expectation that one will be able to create without following any rules or requiring traditional recipe formats. While it’s good to foster a creative mindset, it’s also important to acknowledge that creativity in baking must also adhere to certain scientific and professional guidelines in order to make well-executed, consistent, and delicious products. Chefs and cooks who embrace these new techniques are putting out products that may be unusual to the eye or palate and may even touch the other senses or be experimental in technique, but they are still keeping to the basic scientific principles that make baking as enjoyable as it has always been.

Many of these scientific principles are ones that cooks, bakers, and pastry chefs have been using for centuries, but in some cases have not referred to them by name, or in other cases have recently discovered different ways of achieving the same effect using new techniques, ingredients, or equipment.



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Modern Pastry and Plated Dessert Techniques Copyright © 2015 by The BC Cook Articulation Committee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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