London, Oct. 2 (Reuters): British scientists say they may have worked out why the cookie crumbles.
Every year, biscuit-makers throw away thousands of biscuits because they emerge from the oven cracked or broken. Thousands more reach the supermarket shelves but then crumble in the hands of their would-be eaters.
It is widely assumed that biscuits crumble because they are roughly handled before they reach the consumer.
But researchers at Loughborough University in central England say the problem may be due to cooking techniques and humidity.
“When you take (a biscuit) out of the oven, it likes to absorb moisture from the atmosphere,” Loughborough University’s Ricky Wildman told BBC Radio.
“If the humidity of the atmosphere is set incorrectly, some parts of the biscuit are trying to dry out while some parts of the biscuit are trying to suck moisture in.
“Certain parts are contracting, others are expanding. This sets up internal forces within the biscuit and it effectively self-destructs.”
He described the process as like “an earthquake running through the biscuit”.
“It’s very exciting,” he added.
Wildman’s research team says biscuit-makers should monitor the humidity in their factories more closely and bake their biscuits for longer at lower temperatures.
He said the research has serious implications for an industry worth $2.5 billion a year in Britain alone.
“The economic costs to manufacturing are quite considerable,” he said.