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Why is water the most vital ingredient when you’re baking?

Baked foods have a structure that is intricate and sensitive, as it is composed of flour, eggs, butter, sugar, and other components.
Each component contributes to the formation of this intricate web in a number of different ways. As an illustration, eggs can be used to tenderise, emulsify, aerate, and add flavour, whereas butter can be used to aerate, tenderise, and provide flavour.

The fact that every component contains some amount of water is the one thing that unites all of the components and yet is sometimes disregarded as an important contributor to the overall texture of the final product. Even flour has anywhere from 7 to 14 per cent water, which is far higher than the water content of eggs (which is 76 per cent).

It goes without saying that water is essential to the process of baking, just as it is to life. Baking requires a number of different ingredients, the most important of which is water. Without water, the process of baking and eating baked goods would not be a very pleasant experience, and it might not even be possible.
In baking, the function of water goes beyond simply assisting the components in forming a structure and binding together.

The contributions made by water and any other form of liquid, including milk, heavy cream, coffee, orange juice, and even fruit puree, can be thought of as the basic brick of baking science. As we will see in the following list and as we continue our trip through this book, water is at the centre of numerous interactions, including those that are chemical, biological, and even physical in nature.

Perfect moisture and consistency are achieved by adding water.
In the world of baking, liquids have a special name: moisturisers. They impart nice wetness to our baked goods, contributing to their overall deliciousness.
The leavening process is aided by water.

During the baking process, water transforms into steam, which contributes to the leavening of our baked goods.

In addition, water is necessary for the chemical reaction of baking powder, acid, and baking soda, as well as the biological response of yeast, all of which are responsible for the leavening effect that is produced in our baked goods.

Water changes sugar.

Because sugar can be dissolved in water, the consistency of the sweetener can change from being grainy and astringent to being crisp and brittle or moist and smooth.

Water makes viscosity more viscous.
The degree to which a liquid is thick and resistant to flow is measured in terms of its viscosity. When a liquid is very thin, like water, for example, the molecules in the liquid move very quickly past one another. It is generally agreed that this category of liquid possesses a modest viscosity. On the other hand, if a liquid is thick like applesauce, then its molecules do not have much room to run fast or easily pass one other, and the liquid is deemed to have a high viscosity. Applesauce is an example of a viscous liquid.
When water is added, starches such as cornstarch, potato starch, and even flour absorb it and swell up. This increases the viscosity of our dough or batter, which in turn thickens, stabilises, and provides structure to our baked dish.

Elasticity can be produced by water.
Only in the presence of water is it possible for a robust and elastic gluten net to form. Gluten is a type of protein that can be found in flour. When gluten is combined with water in a mixing and stirring process, the small molecules in the gluten molecule stretch and connect with each other, resulting in an elastic structure that keeps baked goods from crumbling and falling apart. Read on to find out more about gluten and the function it plays in baking.

Baked foods are more stable when water is present.
The process of emulsification benefits from the addition of water. The process of emulsification involves combining two components that, on their own, are unable to combine, such as water and fat. When we emulsify, the water acts as the “receiver,” which means that the fat is combined with the water. With the assistance of an emulsifier, we are able to accomplish this by producing a large number of very small bubbles that are able to persist in the water. When we don’t have enough water to keep the fat bubbles separated, the bubbles have a tendency to clump up and break the emulsification. This happens when we don’t have enough water. When our combination begins to curdle, we notice it.

Baking goods that contain water are less likely to catch fire.
Heat is not only absorbed by water but also conducted by it. The molecules of water are able to take in heat at a higher rate than those of other substances, and as a result of the increased energy they get, they become more mobile. As a consequence of this, they impart some of their energy, in the form of heat, to the many molecules that surround them. However, because the temperature of water can never rise over 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius), this is an excellent method for avoiding our baked items from scorching and burning.

The flavour is carried in the water.
Because of the large proportion of water found in lemon juice, applesauce, coffee, raspberry puree, bananas, and even sour cream, any of these ingredients can be employed as a source of liquid in our baked goods while also imparting a flavour that is uniquely their own.

What is the best way to include liquids into our baked goods?
Now that we understand why the baked goods we’re making require water, let’s find out how much of the liquid we should use and how we should incorporate it.

The formula for the dish you want to bake, as well as the proportion of each component that is water, will determine how much liquid you need to use in the baking process.
The majority of recipes call for the addition of water somewhere within the list of ingredients. A high amount of water can be found in a variety of ingredients, including fruit puree, milk, sour cream, and even cream cheese.
You may find out the proportion of water that a component contains by doing a quick search on Google.
Take, for instance, cream cheese, which is a key ingredient in this recipe for Orange Cream Cheese Cake. The amount of cream cheese called for in the recipe is one cup (or 232 grammes). Because cream cheese contains between 50 and 55 per cent water, we have a total of one-half cup (120 millilitres) of water in our cream cheese.
Therefore, there is a total of $$ cup (200 ml) of liquids in the recipe that was indicated above. This is comprised of the one-half cup (120 ml) of water that comes from the cream cheese, in addition to the one-third cup (80 ml) of orange juice.
The emulsification of the fat that is present in the butter and cream cheese is helped along with the water that is present in the cream cheese. Orange juice is added to the butter, which not only adds flavour but also helps produce gluten, provides additional moisture, and aids in the process of bringing the elements together to form a cohesive whole. Not only can we add flavour to our baked goods by using orange juice as a liquid ingredient, but we can also add moisture.

This cake has an incredible flavour that is both zesty and creamy, and it gets its flavour from the delightful dance of flavours that comes from the cream cheese and the orange juice. The cream cheese provides a flavorful counterpoint to the naturally sweet orange juice, which can be detected in each delicate, luscious, and tangy morsel.

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