Functions of Ingredients

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It's easy enough (sometimes!) to pick up a cookery book, buy some ingredients and cook a couple of different dishes, but have you ever stopped to think exactly what you're putting into those pots and pans?

Why use flour to make bread? Why use eggs to make a meringue?

This Learn-It will help you learn the functions of each ingredient - what they actually do...

Wheat flour is the most important ingredient in home baking. There are many different types of flour, such as stone ground, wholemeal and cookie flour. Flour as an ingredient has many different and important functions?

  • Provides fibre (especially if wholemeal)
  • If Self-Raising, makes mixtures rise
  • Thickens sauces
  • Forms the bulk of bread, pastry and cake mixes
  • If wholemeal, provides colour and texture
  • Gluten in flour produces a stretchy dough
  • Provides carbohydrate, Vitamin B, calcium and iron

Ever tasted a sugar-free cookie? Not nice. Some people may even cringe at the thought of having no sugar to dip their strawberries into! Well, although it does it well, making things sweet isn't the only thing that sugars good for. Yes... really!

  • Provides sweetness
  • If brown, provides colour and texture
  • Large amounts prevent micro-organism growth (for example, jam/marmalade)
  • Caramelises to produce a brown colour
  • Retains moisture
  • Helps to trap air in cake mixtures
  • Provides carbohydrate

From an Egg Mc Muffin, to a lemon meringue pie... You can use them for anything!

  • Hold air when beaten
  • Coagulate (sets) when heated
  • Add colour to mixtures
  • Thickens sauces, custards, etc.
  • Glaze bread, scones and pastry
  • Bind ingredients together
  • Provide protein, fat, iron and Vitamins A, B, and E

They may not be that good for you, but fats and oils are definitely essential ingredients in many, many dishes.

  • Provide flavour
  • Keep products moist and extend shelf-life
  • Add colour to foods
  • Make pastry 'short' by coating the flour to stop gluten developing
  • Hold air when creamed with sugar
  • Oil forms an emulsion with liquids (for example, mayonnaise)
  • Provide energy and Vitamins A and D

Give the functions of each of the ingredients in a Lemon Meringue Pie by dragging the functions next to the relevant food item:

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