Our Journey

We started Day 1 with more of a familiarizing stage as we toured Singapore Polytechnic, visiting the Pilot Plant, Mix & Bake Lab and also the Cooking Studio. We also listened to presentations regarding what we can expect from the coming days and split ourselves into groups and each group was given a problem to solve.

The highlight of Day 2 was the talk on Molecular Gastronomy and we learnt much from it as we held minimal knowledge of what it comprises before the talk. After which, we were given time to work on our problems, sourcing for possible solutions online before heading to the lab to try the solutions out in Days 3 and 4.

Days 3 and 4 was mostly spent at either the Cooking Studio or the Mix & Bake Lab for the students as we get cracking and start working on the solutions for our respective problems before having to present them on Day 5.

On Day 5, we were given time to touch up on our experiments and the powerpoint and did a presentation for the FIRC staff, who provided us with further suggestions for further improvements.

~ Zhaofeng

Our Reflection

Day 1
Today marks the start of the Engineering Week as we headed down to Singapore Polytechnic for the Food Chemistry programme. Initially, I did not know what to expect and were hoping to find out more about food technology and its correlation with Genetically-Modified food. However, after Dr Xu’s presentation and the sharing by the interns, Esther and Wei Ying, I felt that food technology comprises other things such as creating a nicer dining experience for the diners and also solving problems faced in the process of baking or cooking the food as I was given a project on “Moisture migration”, which is aimed at creating a solution to prevent the pizza dough base from being too soggy due to the toppings and ingredients on the pizza. We were also brought to the Pilot Plant, Mix & Bake area and also the Cook Studio as I was amazed at the facilities that Singapore Polytechnic provides the students with.

Day 2
Today, we were given an interesting talk about the history and the current applications of Molecular Gastronomy and before listening to Reuel’s presentation, we have no idea what Molecular Gastronomy is all about and we certainly did not know who first created Molecular Gastronomy and applied in to cooking. However, after the talk, what really surprised me was that Molecular Gastronomy was actually incorporated in many restaurants and it combines science with cooking and what I like about Molecular Gastronomy is that it actually does debunked many myths one holds dearly about cooking and is really an eye-opener for us. After which, we were allocated time to research on the solutions and methodology on our projects and I have received some useful knowledge when searching for information as we found out that food gums were normally used to retain water as it has great water-binding properties and we decided at once to use it as our solution.

Day 3
Today is the start of the experiment and Jing Ling and I came up with the idea that we should learn how to bake a proper pizza before we added the ingredients as we felt that we had limited ingredients. However, we began to understand how tough baking a pizza was as we did not have any baking experience and we did not know the proportions to add in order to bake a nice pizza. However, under the guidance of Wei Ying and Dr Xu, we managed to pick it up quite quickly and ended up with a few samples of pizza before the day ends. Even though the samples were not really perfect, we were able to gather some information about where we did wrong from those pizzas and made the correct modifications to bake a better pizza. From this experience, it really made me appreciate the efforts the bakers put in to bake pastries for us as even though the process looks easy, it is actually very difficult and can take up to hours, thus this experience really change my impression of the job of bakers.

Day 4
After a day of sampling yesterday, we started to bake the pizzas and test out our solutions. We adopted a systematic approach by adding the food gums into the dough, brushing layer of food gums on the pizza and also mixing the food gums with the toppings. Different combinations of food gums were used such as Guar gum only, Xanthan gum only and both gums at the same time. Time management was a huge problem for us as we did not finish testing our baked pizzas on the water activity meter and even had to rely on Dr Xu and Wei Ying to help us test the pizzas out using the texture profile analyzer. Overall, we had an enjoyable time in the lab and I never knew there were so many different methods to test for the sogginess of the pizza dough base such as using the water activity meter, the texture profile analyzer and also through sensory evaluation, which we did not adopt.

Day 5
Today was the judgment day and we had to present our solution to the staff of FIRC. Initially, I was worried about the presentation as we did not exactly achieve any decent results but we were relieved when we successfully managed to deliver the presentation and even obtain some useful suggestions from the staff of FIRC on how to further improve our project. Also, there was something that surprised me when I was working at the Mix & Bake lab as I notice the FIRC staff baking custard buns for clients and this really surprised me as I always thought that the restaurants were normally in charge of these jobs. Overall, it has been a splendid 5 days at the FIRC and it has also been an eye-opener for me as I have been exposed to many new things within such a short period of time and had definitely learnt much from this programme and gain many valuable insights.

Thank you

I would like to thank Hwachong and Singapore Polytechnic for providing me with a chance to participate and get to know more about food technology. I would also like to thank the staff and interns who had helped us at FIRC, Dr Xu, Wei Ying and Esther and also our teacher in charge, Mrs Goh, Ms Ting and Mr Paul Goh for helping us out as well.