Cooking Literacy: Meringues as Culinary Scaffoldings


As simple as some baking recipes may seem, it is imperative for the cook to realize that baking is a complex phenomenon where scientific insight may provide a significant benefit. At the same time, scientists have to embrace the notion that cooking and baking are deemed of serious and systematic investigation—as they continue to be clouded with plenty of culinary mysticism. With this contribution, we aim to offer an example as to support these statements. Egg white proteins are the main structural components of meringues and as such, their chemistry and the way they behave during whipping in the presence of sugar(s), acid(s) and cations, notwithstanding the effect of the age of egg-whites and their whipping temperature, will affect the quality of the foams produced and ultimately of the dish they form a part of. We critically review the available and relevant body of knowledge around the biophysics and chemistry of culinary egg white-based foams. In doing so, we also propose a series of experiments that will help elucidate the mechanism(s) by which copper and cream of tartar stabilize egg white foams.

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We appreciate the critical comments from Dr. Johannes Schlebusch and Andy Johnston during the preparation of this manuscript and the insightful comments from the reviewers.

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Correspondence to César Vega.

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Vega, C., Sanghvi, A. Cooking Literacy: Meringues as Culinary Scaffoldings. Food Biophysics 7, 103–113 (2012).

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  • Meringues
  • Egg white
  • Foams
  • Gastronomy
  • Science-based cooking