What we did in class this term

Another term of delicious food chemistry – some of our activities…

More whole grains at Oregon State

I’ve been having a work “vacation” – working with Craig Ponsford at the “Ponsford’s Place”  Innovation Center [link] to fine-tune our barley bread formulations.

We uncovered some interesting processing challenges that point to the particle size of the barley flour as being a suspect.

We played with the water because barley has so much great soluble fiber as mixed linkage beta 1-3, 1-4 glucans that it soaks up water like a sponge. These breads had 50% by flour weight whole-milled barley flour and respectively left to right 90% or 100% [flour basis] water. 100% water on this basis is equal weights of flour and water, and still it made bread.

Oregon State University’s “Streaker” hull-less barley going into the mill.

Adventures in whole-grains at Oregon State – barley breads

What barley foods can do for you…

They can keep you satisfied with outstanding flavor as well as keep you healthy and regular, as our whole-grain experiments in fine food here at Oregon State University are showing us.

Sourdough barley boules: 50% of the flour is barley in the style of a light rye via Michel Suas’ “Advanced Bread and Pastry

Barley baguettes made with a yeasted biga – again 50% of the flour is wholegrain barley and of that 10 to 25% [depending on the day] is our own “Wintwax” winter-habit hulled waxy variety. The rest is our beautiful mutli-colored hull-less winter food barley, also milled as a whole-grain on our stone-mills. Both varieties were bred here at Oregon State University by the denizens of Oregon State University’s BARLEYWORLD. The lack of AMYLOSE in the waxy barley flour gives an outstanding softness and moistness to the crumb. Too much though leaves the bread too soft to support itself: we need that retrograded amylose network. Too much waxy starch also reduces the flavor formation in the crust: clearly messing with the water activity too.

Off to make a “Willamette Valley Sourdough Barley” the autolyse is ready to mix.

Poolish barley baguettes soon as well as great 100 % whole-grain breads made from wheat varieties bred and grown in Oregon by the Oregon State University wheat breeding team, the hard red winter wheat Norwest553 primarily,  and of course wholegrain barley bread by the Oregon State University barley breeding team.

My favorite food – bread

Great discussion of the bread-making process by award winning, erudite, and articulate baker Craig Ponsford. Craig is a past chairman of the board of  the Bread Bakers Guild of America and won the French and Specialty Breads category in the 1996 Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie in France, the win helping to energize the artisan bread movement in the USA. Craig is incredibly generous of spirit as I have luckily come to know over the last year.

[Tom McMahon was the founder of the BBGA]

CRAIG’S “OBSESSIVES” VIDEO at Chow: a beautifully straight-forward exposé of the craft

Craig just opened a new place in San Rafael CA. PONSFORD’S PLACE. It’s worth visiting the website, but if you’re in the area visit the bakery.

You can also see Criag in action at http://communitygrains.com/using.html making a whole-wheat ciabatta [formulation here].

On the theme of community grains keep your eyes out for the Kneading Conference West in the state of Washington September 2011, where if plans go right I will be presenting on formulating barley flour into hand-crafted breads. This is a new extension of the well regarded Kneading Conference in Maine. The barely work is part of our push to reintroduce barley as a mainstream food. The major partner in this is our barley breeding program led by Pat Hayes.

Other proponents of barley as food can be found at…




Both sites have info and recipes to help make barley a part of your day.

Why would you. Well apart from great taste it’s good for you.


Pretzel logic

Final lab session of our Food Chemistry class this year.

20100311 AR pretzel ANNOT

An experience of the effects of pH on browning reactions.

We make a variant of traditional soft pretzels, using a rather leaner formula than often used [for us no milk or eggs]. The loss of lactose from the milk and glucose from the egg might have contributed to our failure to get the same level of color development we saw last year when we used a full rich formula with egg and milk.

20090312 pretzels

Still it is a great way to experience the effect of pH shift on the color and aroma generated by primarily Maillard browning, allthough at pH 14 in the 4% NaOH, other reactions are very likely.

2010 formulation


2009 formulation

untitled 2009

A poolish is a 50:50 mixture of flour and water BY WEIGHT with about 0.1% of the flour weight as dried [instant] yeast [NO SALT] that is allowed to ferment around 16 hours before being added to the final dough.

Harold McGee talks with Michel Suas about the need [or not] for kneading

New from Harold McGee, “Better bread with less kneading

Talking about the interactions of the amount of water in the dough, kneading amount, whole wheat flours, water absorption capacity of the flour, and the amount of yeast. But read McGee’s post – I don’t want to steal his thunder and he has covered the topic nicely already.

Michel Suas is the founder of the San Francisco Baking Institute where I spent a couple of weeks in the summer of 2008 learning artisan baking techniques.

This is one of the fruits of my SFBI experience

Related posts: http://blogs.oregonstate.edu/deliciousnessw09/2009/04/15/no-knead-breads/


Outstanding !!!

Posted Jan 4 2010 by kscereallab on youtube. This is just one of a group of videos showing the gelatinization of the starch granules of a number of plant species. From the channel name I am guessing with some certainty that this is the cereal lab at Kansas State U, my wife’s alma mater.

I have been looking for ways for the whole class to see this (starch gelatinization) at one time. And because I don’t have the technology available to film what I am seeing in a microscope, this is really a great help. It appears as though the filming was done using a microscope fitted with a hot stage. Thanks KSU !

I guess I would have been exceptionally pleased if they had been able to somehow log the temperature rise as they filmed the granule behaviour.

Looks like a great application for mobile-phone-based microscopy as reported here in July last year.

Wheat starch

See more at http://www.youtube.com/user/kscereallab

Teapots, fluid dynamics, and baked potatoes – but what are we to do with the buttery taste?

Beating the teapot effect

(Submitted on 17 Oct 2009)

Cyrill Duez’s team show that superhydrophobic surfaces stop the tea from wetting the inner surface of the spout and pretty much stop the dripping.

Richard Alleyne, science correspondent for the UK Telegraph newspaper, says this backs up the old adage that putting butter inside the spout stops the drip.

But no-one is saying what we should do with the buttery taste – maybe get used to it like the Tibetans have with tsampa (toasted barley flour, green tea, and yak butter) – see picture on the last page of the linked PDF file

Of course all this leads to some interesting side trips on the internet, this time to the web page of Lydéric Bocquet an the Liquids @ interfaces’ group at the Laboratoire de Physique de la Matière Condensée et Nanostructures, Université Lyon 1, and a link to a paper of his from The American Journal of Physics from 2007 called “Tasting edge effects“. The paper  backs a hypothesis that, to quote him, “the baking of potato wedges constitutes a crunchy example of edge effects” .  He goes on to say in the abstract- “A simple model of the diffusive transport of water vapor around the potato wedges shows that the water vapor flux diverges at the sharp edges… This increased evaporation at the edges leads to the crispy taste of these parts of the potatoes“.

All I can say is, thank goodness this happens and that baked potatoes have extra tasty edges, all a function of increased drying rates that speed Maillard browning.

FotoosVanRobin via Flickr

Coffee stains explained

And an hour later  – even more interesting things – like the paper 12 years ago in “Nature” that explained the nature [pardon the unintentional but awful pun]  of the rings in coffee stains via a flow from the interior of the liquid to the exterior, bringing suspended material with the flow and depositing it at the edge of the drying droplet. And coffee is a good example because oft he amount of dispersed but not dissolved material in the cup. It would be interesting to see if the effect is more pronounced with espresso than drip filter given the far higher level of suspended solids in an espresso cup.

Capillary flow as the cause of ring stains from dried liquid drops”  Robert D. Deegan et al

Nature 389, 827-829 (23 October 1997) | doi:10.1038/39827 – even folks without a full text subscription should be able to access the abstract via this link .

Who’da thought Nature would be interested in coffee stains – still,  the journos and editors, they probably live on coffee.

Open you fermentation horizons & mobile microscopy

A new post “Forays in Fermentation” from Jeremy at the Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog, via Research Blogging highlights two recent papers on fermentation that go beyond the usual beer/wine paradigm that I see in some students that choose our fermentation option.

The papers are

  1. Nout, M. (2009). Rich nutrition from the poorest – cereal fermentations in Africa and Asia Food Microbiology DOI: 10.1016/j.fm.2009.07.002 []
  2. Poutanen, K., Flander, L., & Katina, K. (2009). Sourdough and cereal fermentation in a nutritional perspective Food Microbiology DOI: 10.1016/j.fm.2009.07.011

We have used idli (rice & mung beans & a small amount of fenugreek) and injera (teff –  Eragrostis teff) as demonstration fermentations in the Topics in Fermentation – Science of Baking class. They are quite interesting. The idli ferment smells for all the world like yoghurt, apparently from a colonization of lactic producing bacteria. We kicked off our injera by chewing some of the grain and returning it to the mix, giving an inocculum of acid forming bacteria [better not done immediately after cleaning your teeth] and amylase from saliva to provide the two essentials – fermentable sugars and fermentation organisms.

The paper by Nout looks like a good read.

Microscopy comes to Web 2.0

I have been looking for ways to streamline our experience of viewing the diversity and behavior of starch granules outside the traditional transmission microscope exercise we have done in Food Chem labs – most students, and I, who don’t use microscopes everyday, often have trouble setting them up, and as an instructor, with multiple microscopes in a lab, I don’t know if students are seeing what te ought to be.

A new development in clinical microscopy…

Breslauer, D., Maamari, R., Switz, N., Lam, W., & Fletcher, D. (2009) Mobile Phone Based Clinical Microscopy for Global Health Applications. PLoS ONE, 4(7). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006320

for adaptation to a mobile phone (or I guess, my FlipCam) would let us all see a share our visions of starch granules, and share in real time the excitement [well, I am a food chemist] of seeing starch granules literally explode when we douse them with 1 normal hydroxide.

For more see Dan Gorelick’s post at Science Planet , which I also found via my RSS feed from Research Blogging.