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Monday, May 18, 2015

Keep Calm And Bake On

Do you have a weakness for cookies, cakes, donuts, muffins, biscuits, pies, cupcakes, breads, scones, pastries, or even all of the above? If so, you will want to admit defeat to your sweet tooth and indulge in a baked good on May 17, also known as World Baking Day!
For many years, people have been baking and consuming many of these scrumptious baked goods. But what makes these sweet treats so tasty and hard to resist? Simply stated, most baked goods consist of a combination of flour, sugar and eggs. Now that you have the components for your delicacies, you are probably wondering where those ingredients are coming from…besides the grocery store, because we know that five-pound bag of flour didn’t sprout out of the shelf!
To begin your baked good, you will need flour. Flour is one of the end products of a wheat crop. Most baked goods require flour made from a certain variety of wheat called “soft red winter wheat.” This distinct type of wheat makes up only 20% of the U.S. wheat crop and mostly grown in states east of the Mississippi River. Many of these states also grow a similar wheat variety called “soft white wheat.” These wheat varieties contain low to medium levels of protein and a soft endosperm, which make them excellent for baked good products.
Next you would probably add a type of sugar to your baked good for a sweet taste. The most common type of sugar added to goods is white granulated sugar. This sugar is comprised of fine crystals that don’t cake together (no pun intended!) and make it perfect for measuring and sprinkling onto food. We get these flawless little crystals from raw sugar and performing a process known as refining. When raw sugar is refined, the molasses is removed by immersing the sugar crystals in a concentrated syrup that softens and removes the sticky brown coating without dissolving them. Because sugar cane crops require a certain temperature and environment, most of the sugar grown in the U.S. is from Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana and Texas.
After your sugar is added, the eggs are next. The leading chicken egg producer in the U.S., ranked by the number of hens represented in the thousands, is Iowa, with 58,330 hens. Chicken eggs contain a significant amount of protein and are widely used in baking for their addition of structure and texture to the end product.
Now that you have the details on where your baked good ingredients came from in the U.S., flour those rolling pins and grease the pans for some sugary pleasures and celebrate World Baking Day on May 17!

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