Unraveling the Science Behind Pandebono: A Collaborative Exploration

In a collaborative effort involving CIRAD, INRA, and CIAT, a fascinating study was conducted to decipher the physicochemical intricacies behind baking pandebono, a cherished Colombian traditional bread. Harnessing cassava sour starch samples from CIAT, the researchers embarked on a journey to understand the modifications occurring during fermentation and drying, seeking a connection with the starch’s expansion property crucial for crafting pandebono.

Gas Retention: The Key to Pandebono’s Fluffiness

Pandebono’s distinctive feature lies in its expansion during cooking, a phenomenon driven by the production and retention of gas within the dough. While sweet starch fails to induce this expansion, sour starch, fermented over time, exhibits the desired gas-tight properties essential for voluminous pandebono.

Probing the World of Polymers

To unravel the secrets of gas retention, the researchers delved into the presence of polymers within pandebono dough. Nitrogen content analysis revealed low protein levels, dismissing their direct influence on viscoelastic properties. Pentosan content, originating from cassava root fibers, remained consistent during fermentation, excluding them as potential gas retention contributors.

The Role of Gelatinization in Pandebono’s Magic

Given that starch constitutes the lion’s share of pandebono, the study scrutinized the gelatinization and rheological properties of starch. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) unveiled uniform gelatinization temperatures across cassava samples, indicating that changes in crystallites did not drive the unique expansion property of sour starch.

Unveiling the Dynamics of Viscosity

Viscoamylographic assessments illuminated the intriguing relationship between maximum viscosity and pandebono’s loaf volume. Maximum viscosity decreased with prolonged fermentation and drying, correlating with enhanced loaf volume. This observation held true at neutral and basic pH levels, pointing to a potential influence on gas retention.

Intrinsic Viscosity: The Missing Link

The study further explored intrinsic viscosity, revealing a parallel decrease in viscosity during fermentation and sun-drying. This reduction aligned with the pandebono’s loaf volume, emphasizing the critical role of viscosity in achieving the desired bread texture.

Unraveling the Mystery

Despite a lack of observable differences in starch crystalline structure, the study proposed several hypotheses to explain the viscosity reduction. Oxidative degradation during oven-drying or interactions with molecules like lactates or lactic acid derivatives emerged as potential factors. Lactates, known starch plasticizers, may contribute to the sought-after properties of sour starch.

Conclusion: A Tapestry of Possibilities

While the exact mechanisms are yet to be fully unraveled, this collaborative study paints a vivid picture of the physicochemical dance within pandebono. From the subtle interplay of polymers to the enigmatic world of viscosity, each element contributes to the artistry of crafting this beloved Colombian bread. As the scientific community continues to explore these intricacies, pandebono remains not just a culinary delight but a canvas for scientific curiosity and discovery.

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