The chemistry that underlies the browning of bread. meats, etc. was first defined in 1912 by Louis-Camille Maillard and involves the polymerization of sugars and proteins. While this reaction is obviously messy (i.e. has many different pathways), the dominant chemical mechanisms were identified in a classic paper by John Hodge in 1953 and are outlined in the figure above. As you can see, bread-browning is mainly: amine(protein)-activated carbonyl(sugar) polymerization.
- Maillard, L. C. Action of Amino Acids on Sugars. Formation of Melanoidins in a Methodical Way. Comptes rendus de l’Académie des sciences, 1912 154, 66
- Hodge, J. E. Dehydrated foods, chemistry of browning reactions in model systems. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 1953 1, 928-943
- McGee, Harold. 1984. On Food and Cooking. New York, NY. Scribner pp. 272-274,389-400.
- Potter, Jeff. 2010. Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food. O’Reilly Media
- Fleming, I. Frontier Orbitals and Organic Chemical Reactions, Wiley-Interscience, 2004
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