When I was a kid I had an irrepressible passion for puddings. I loved bonet (a Piedmontese chocolate pudding) and, certainly, panna cotta, but doubtlessly my favorite one was crème caramel (prepared by my maternal grandma by rehydrating some ready-made industrial lyophilized pudding with hot milk et...voilà :)).
I was so intrigued by that liquid mass becoming solid, or better, jellifying. What was the trick behind that magic? Thanks to my passion for panna cotta and gummy bears, I became acquainted with gelatin and started to master it for real! I understood that gelatin was related to jellification and its addition to certain preparations was essential to have a pudding-like cake (try to make panna cotta without gelatin!).
However, certain puddings as crème caramel and bonet do not need gelatin. We have just to add eggs to milk and all the other ingredients. My grandma used to say that “eggs are like a glue” and she wasn’t that wrong, I must say.
I discovered then that eggs contain “jellifying” proteins. Do you remember our discussion about gels and what happens to collagen fibers, the gelatin's protein? Well, the same thing occurs to egg proteins: they lose their structure following a heat treatment to then associate in a net that traps water. Briefly, a gel.
Here explained the magic trick: eggs are responsible for the jellification of pudding, and not just that! Did you know that the filling of quiches, the tasty savory French pies, is an egg-based gel? What a great thing eggs are! What would be do without them the kitchen?!?
The world of gels is so wide to inspire me with a lot of recipes to share :) I am going to post the very first one of the series on Thursday.
V. Kiosseoglou, Current Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science, 8, 2003, 365–370