Fierce Browning-Maillard Reaction

Taste of Browning
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Chinese Yeast Buns: Steamed vs Baked

• To observe and study the affects of moisture and temperature on the Maillard reaction
• Introduce the idea of yeast fermentation as a leavening agent (to be expanded upon later)

A. Yeast Bun Dough


Stand Mixer with Dough Hook attachment
Medium Mixing Bowl
Small Mixing Bowl
Sifter or Fine Mesh Strainer
Digital Balance
Measuring Spoons


30 g Fresh Yeast (or 1 packet Dried Yeast)
500 ml Warm Water
3T Sugar
625 g All-Purpose Flour
1t Baking Powder
AN Sesame Oil


1. Place 250ml warm water in bowl of mixer. Sprinkle yeast over and allow to stand 5 minutes.
2. Add 2 t sugar and 65 g flour and mix to combine on low speed. Leave in warm area for 10 min or until bubbles form.
3. Add remaining 250 g warm water and remaining sugar to bowl. Mix to combine on low-medium speed.
4. Sift 250 g flour and baking soda together in separate bowl.
5. Add flour/baking soda mix to stand mixer. Beat until smooth first at low then medium speed.
6. Add remaining flour and beat at low then medium speed until dough becomes elastic and smooth.
7. Lightly oil medium mixing bowl with sesame oil. Remove dough from stand mixer to oiled bowl. Roll to coat all surfaces.
8. Cover with plastic film and place in warm area to rise until doubled in volume (approximately 2 hours) or allow to rise longer (3-5 hours) in cool area. Dough should not bounce back when pressed with fingertip.
9. After first rise, punch down dough to near flat again. Recover tightly, and allow to rise a second time.
10. After second rise, remove dough from bowl and place on lightly floured surface.
11. Knead lightly to return elasticity and smoothness.
12. Divide ball in half.
13. Divide each portion into 10 even portions and shape into balls, proceed with cooking steps as follows (B&C)

B. Baked Buns


2 Medium Sheet trays


10 ea Small dough balls (from Part A)
AN All Purpose Flour, for sprinkling


1. Preheat oven to 3750F
2. Place the buns on lightly floured sheet trays, evenly spaced (5 per).
3. Leave to rest for 30 minutes in warm area, until doubled in size.
4. When appropriately doubled in size, place in preheated oven and cook for 15 minutes.
5. Remove when golden brown and cooked through.
6. Eat immediately or allow to cool before storage.

C. Steamed Buns


Parchment Paper cut into 10 squares (3” x 3”)
Steamer Baskets with Lid
Pot (same circumference as steamer baskets)


10 ea Small dough balls (from Part A)
AN Sesame Oil (to lubricate parchment squares)


1. Lightly coat one side of parchment squares with sesame oil.
2. Place one dough ball on each oiled parchment square.
3. Place paper and dough in steamer basket. Space evenly and allow for expansion room.
4. Leave in a warm area and allow dough to double in size (approximately 30 min).
5. Meanwhile, fill pot 1/3 with water and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce to simmer.
6. Place steamer on pot and cook for 10 minutes.
7. Remove steamer from pot and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
8. Eat promptly or allow to cool completely before storing.


Brennan, Jennifer. 1984. The Cuisines of Asia: Nine Great Oriental Cuisines by
Technique. St. Martin’s Press: New York, NY.

Solomon, Charmaine. 1998. Encyclopedia of Asian Food. Periplus Editions (HK)
Ltd: Boston, MA

Tropp, Barbra. 1982. The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking: Techniques and Recipes.
Hearst Books: New York, NY.

The Maillard reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar usually requires heat. Baked bread (popular in western culture) is different from steamed bread (popular in eastern culture) in that steaming does not reach a high enough temperature for the Maillard reaction. The reaction generates aromatic compounds such as 5-hydroxymethylfurfural and furfural. The former has buttery or caramel flavor while the latter has an odor of almonds. The reaction also generates flavor enhancer such as alapyridaine, which increases sweetness, saltiness and umami characters (Ottinger and Hofmann, 2003). The brown bits that are produced are called melanoidins. This polymer is reported to very beneficial (antihypertensive, prebiotic, xenobiotic metabolizing enzyme, antimicrobial and antioxidative activity).

Reducing sugar is required for Maillard reaction. Chicken leg un-basted.
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Chicken leg basted with simple syrup (predominantly sucrose which is a non-reducing sugar).
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Chicken leg basted with corn syrup (predominantly glucose which is a reducing sugar).
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Chicken leg basted with honey (predominately fructose which is a reducing sugar).
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The rate-limiting step in the reaction is the first step. High pH speeds up the reaction by deprotonating the amine group in order to become more nucleophilic. Although it has been suggested that high pH shifts the primary amine group (R-NH2) to R-NH “-", deprotonation of R-NH2 is unlikely (pKa=36). High pH however can deprotonate R-NH3 “+" (pKa=10.5) to form the more nucleophilic R-NH2. Addition of baking soda can speed up browning by raising the pH.
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Both Maillard reaction and caramelization occur when onions are sautéed. Baking soda (far right) can speed up Maillard reaction where as citric acid (far left) can slow down Maillard reaction.

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Non-enzymatic browning


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  • 2017⁄06⁄07(水)
  • 23:58