German Baking

Waterloo Region has a long history of German immigration and influence since its initial settlement, leading to place names like Berlin (now Kitchener), New Hamburg, Baden, and local events like Oktoberfest.  Around the area you can find various places with German-style cuisine and products including at the bakery featured in this local news video link:   From personal experience, their Christmas Stollen bread and chocolates are highly addictive.  But what does this have to do with chemical engineering?

Baking, and cooking in general, uses a lot of chemical engineering principles.  There is the proportioning of the materials (reactants), pH adjustment (with lemon juice for example), mixing and blending operations, temperature control and heat transfer for cooking, use of microbiology (yeast) for leavening, use of chemical rising agents (baking powder), and use of the Maillard reaction for browning.

Of course you don’t need a chemical engineering degree to cook or bake in your home.  But when it comes to large scale industrial food processing it certainly helps, and it is a field where you will find some chemical engineers.  To help with that career path, we have an elective course in Food Process Engineering available.  It covers a variety of important topics like food safety, sterilization, and processes like freezing, all at industrial scales.  As a simple example, here is a video explaining heat transfer principles for a potato.


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