Picture it...

img_1533 A model of alpha-glucose above a tray of freshly made liquid caramel

Week 3 of the Great British Bake Off was bread week, and Paul Hollywood set the bakers a technical challenge of making a batch of the German buns called “dampfnudel”. These buns are steamed so that the tops are soft and white but the bottoms are caramelised and brown. Caramelisation is a common process in cookery, adding colour and depth of flavour to sweet and savoury ingredients alike, but what is the chemistry uniting caramel ice cream with French onion soup?

1.     Caramel is made by heating sugar and boiling it for a length of time – exactly how long determines the final product.  Generally, caramel is sweet, brown and may be hard, soft or liquid; this variety means that it can be found on its own as a sweet or cooked into puddings and sauces. Caramels…

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