I'm reporting to you today from here in the Labora-Torrey. I'm bringing you a little lesson in chemistry--kitchen chemistry to be exact.
Today's lesson is titled: "How Now Browned Cake?"...also knows as "The Maillard Reaction 101"
For those of you just tuning in, yesterday I shared the beautiful pound cake I created. It is YUMMY.
Today it got YUMMIER!
For breakfast (yeah, you heard me) I had a couple of slices of pound cake prepared in my VERY FAVORITE way.
Slathered in butter...and browned to perfection in a skillet.
That oh-so-tasty toasty brown coating is called the "Maillard Reaction".
The Maillard Reaction (so named for the chemist who first described it in 1912--Louis Camille Maillard) is what happens when food is cooked directly over pretty high heat (i.e. not boiled in a liquid). I'll get into the chemistry bits in a moment.
Suffice it to say, it's what makes foods that are "browned" so darn tasty. Think pan-fried potatoes, caramelized onions, our friend toast, anything that is cooked on a grill, and everything baked to golden-brown goodness in an oven--bread, cookies, and even pound cake.
Now for the sciency part.
The Maillard Reaction is a form of non-enzymatic browning where the reactive carbonyl group of the sugar reacts with the nucleophylic amino group of the amino acids forming a complex mixture of poorly characterized molecules responsible for a range of delectable odors and yummy flavors.
In cooking, The Maillard Reaction is very desirable. Unfortunately, this reaction can also occur in the human body...and when it does, it wreaks havoc. It is linked to many degenerative diseases of the eye, like Diabetic Retinopathy, and Macular Degeneration.
But that is a whole other can of peas I'm not getting into.
Today, I'm focusing on the kitchen version of the Maillard Reaction--the GOOD kind of Maillard reaction.
Just look at that yummy, browned pound cake.
Together with a steamy cup of Masala Chai...it's the breakfast of champions for this chick.