- How can we measure the qualities and desirability of a finished recipe both quantitatively and qualitatively in order to determine the success of our recipe experimentation?
The first step to creating a truly successful recipe is to first figure out what the driving question is, and then base both the quantitative and qualitative results around that. For my group, and see as we were studying how to create the fluffiest pancake, was to ask how much leavener (baking powder or soda) would allow for the best possible reaction within the pancake. For our quantitative test results, it was a clear choice for us to be measuring the height of the pancake. When the lactic acid within one of our key ingredients, buttermilk, would react with our leavener, baking soda, the result would be a formation of carbon dioxide gas. Although trying to escape, the carbon dioxide gas would ultimately become trapped because of a phenomenon called the protein matrix. The protein structure within wheat flour has a formation similar to a spider's web, and it is the right size to keep the bubbles of carbon dioxide trapped. In the end, and with the rise of the pancake due to the gas within, we were able to measure the height of the pancake in order to see how it reacted with the varying amounts of baking soda which we added. Our second form of quantitative measurement came from finding the actual density of the pancake. We knew that with the combination of a tall pancake and pancake with low density we would be creating the perfect fluffy pancake. This is, of course, because a larger pancake with less density would be containing a much higher concentration of carbon dioxide gas bubbles within. A successful recipe is finding what answers your essential question, and by using these quantitative measurements it would be possible to determine what would make the fluffiest pancake and thus determine that this recipe and our methodology was successful.
In order to solidify our quantitative results, we decided to create a qualitative test for our peers that asked them to determine the density, taste, and fluffiness of four separate pancakes (A, B, C, D). Because we wanted this test to come purely from the sense of taste, we prohibited the test subject to only knowing the letter assigned to each pancake, and not it’s contents. Although we used numbers to allow the test subject to answer, as we asked them to rate the fluffiness, density, and taste on a scale of 1-5, this is still considered qualitative. With the number ‘3’ meaning ‘Neutral’, the numbers ‘1’ and ‘2’ signified whether the pancake was not fluffy and the numbers ‘4’ and ‘5’ signified whether it was. The number ‘3’ signifying ‘Neutral’ is a qualification which allows our method of testing to be considered qualitative. In a final combination of both quantitative and qualitative testing, we were able to accurately determine the qualities and desirability of our pancakes in order to refine our recipe towards becoming successful.
- In what way(s) is cooking like doing science and in what way(s) are they different? How are a cook and a food scientist similar or different?
Another important similarity is that both cooks and scientists use stoichiometry in order to keep tests and recipes consistent. If one wants to add more of a specific ingredient, often times he or she must add more of the other ingredients to keep the recipe the same. The only exception for this is when cooks and scientists feel like improvising and begin to get creative with the amount of substances within their recipe or experiment. This ultimately leads me into the biggest dissimilarity, which the change in freedom between cooking and science. With our project we had to cook the same way each time, controlling every aspect. However most cooks will be less careful about the way in which they are cooking their food. We consistently had to keep our pancakes within a mold so that they would not deform, however most would let them take their natural shape. Science allows for much less room for error. In some ways this is also shared by cooks, as mistakes in both science and cooking will lead to revisions and an analyzing of what went wrong.