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Why a crackly crust is essential to a baguette’s aroma and taste

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An authentic French baguette is one of those key staples that foodies hunt for. Now scientists have gained new insight into why a crisp crust is a must for this quintessential bread. They report their findings on how crumb and crust structure affect aroma — and therefore, perceived taste — in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The smell of baked bread that's fresh out of the oven is mouth-watering, but the effect of aroma doesn't stop there. Chewing food also releases molecules that waft in our mouths, interacts with olfactory receptors and influence how we perceive what we're eating. Understanding this dynamic could help food scientists improve the taste of products. Taking the baguette as an example to explore this possibility, Anne Saint-Eve and colleagues wanted to see how its texture would affect its aroma when chewed.

The researchers had three study participants eat samples of nine baguettes, each with different crumb and crust densities, water content and elasticity. An analysis of volatile organic compounds that are exhaled through the "nose spaces" of the participants along with their chewing activity showed that firm bread and brittle crust led to more chewing and a greater rate of release of aroma molecules. The findings could help food scientists create new bread types better tailored to meet consumers' expectations, the researchers say.

The authors acknowledge funding from Lesaffre International.

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The abstract that accompanies this study is available here.

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