In the Christmas bakery

At the beginning of December at the latest the delicious time begins again, in which it smells temptingly of gingerbread, speculatius, butter cookies and other Christmas delicacies from many kitchens.

Flour, butter, sugar or honey, eggs, spices, nuts and seeds in varying proportions are the basic ingredients of old and new recipes. With the exception of macaroons, in which the beaten egg white provides for loose pastries, still baking agents must be added. They ensure that the delicious works of art come out of the oven tenderly and loosely and not hard and firm.

Traditionally relaxed

In principle, baking powder could be used for almost any type of pastry. Similar to the carbonic acid, which brings the air bubbles into the sparkling mineral water, baking powder contains powdery carbonic acid, which becomes gaseous during baking and blows air into the dough. But those who rely on the traditionally used driving force of deerhorn salt and/or potash also gain a little more "typical taste". Originally, deerhorn salt was actually extracted from the ground horns of a deer or other horn substances. In the meantime, the production is being carried out using food technology. Also known as the ABC drive (abbreviation for: AmmoniumBiCarbonate), it acts like baking powder, but gives the dough a slightly ammonia-like taste, which is considered typical for flat pastries such as gingerbread or - all year round - American.

While baking powder and deer horn salt develop their driving force solely through the heat, in pastries that are loosened with potash, the microorganisms naturally present in the dough must first form acids, which then release the dough-loosening gases from the potash. Therefore, potash is only suitable for gingerbread dough, which rests at least one night or even longer before it is baked. It is advisable to combine potash with deer horn salt or baking powder, because there is not always enough acid during resting to achieve the required loosening.

Cleverly combined

At the same time, the taste begins to develop during the rest period. However, this will only really succeed if all the ingredients form a close bond in the heat of the oven. Only then are the fat-soluble flavours of the spices released. That's why the tempting fragrance emanates from the oven, but most of the aroma remains in the pastry itself. A slight browning, caused by the so-called Maillard reaction, also contributes to taste formation. The sugar and protein substances in the pastry react with each other and form the popular caramel or roasted taste.

Other undesirable tanning products, such as the health-endangering acrylamide, only form in significant quantities at temperatures above 180 degrees Celsius. It is therefore advisable to bake Christmas specialities below this temperature for healthy enjoyment.

Written by Brigitte Neumann