Fats and oils consist of a glycerol molecule that can bind 3 different fatty acids. The type of fatty acid makes that we would classify them as saturated, unsaturated or even poly-unsaturated. Generally speaking we can say that saturated fatty acids have the tendency to be more solid at room temperature, where unsaturated fatty acids have the tendency to be more liquid. However the moment that a fat (which is solid) or fatty acids start to melt until it has completely finished melting and has become liquid (thus oil) is what we call a melting curve. This melting curve is important due the fact that every climate requires different conditions as well as that every person doesn’t like a high content of fat that remains in the mouth to be melted. On average a person’s mouth temperature is between 36-36,5°C; which normally means that for most people 80-90% needs to be melted by this temperature to avoid a fat film in the mouth.
This melting curve can be very gradual to very steep. The steeper this melting curve is, we might notice a slight cooling sensation. This tells us a few things: the point until the fat is stable is predictable, as well as the fact that steeper curves limit the usability: not every bakery items profits from an ‘icecream’ sensation. The usage of these type of fats in combination with others can create however good textures as well as suitable eating qualities. Milder climates can benefit from less harder fats (e.g. lower melting curves), where warmer climates can’t and might even need to change the fat properties for processing.
Another perspective on the melting curve comes from how the fat might behave in the bakery product during processing and in particular baking. The wrong fats in cookies might cause too much spread or not enough and cakes might not be able to fix their structure or remain too stiff, not smooth enough.
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