Science in a sandwich: boffins create 'the perfect bacon buttie' formula

UK - Scientists at Leeds University have come up with a formula to create the perfect bacon buttie – and now they’re challenging Britain’s bacon buttie fans to put the findings to the test!
calendar icon 16 April 2007
clock icon 4 minute read

With eight out of 10 Brits agreeing that the bacon buttie is a quintessential part of their culture, the formula is sure to cause a stir all over the country. Everything from how to measure the crunchiness in decibels right down to the force required by your teeth to chew the bacon was measured in the research, which was commissioned by Danish Bacon.

Here comes the science…
Top of the list according to the bacon boffins, are the two ‘C’s - crispiness and crunchiness. The research revealed that, ideally, the ‘crunching’ sound made when you tuck in to those crispy rashers should measure 0.5 decibels when eaten, and they should break when 0.4 Newtons of force is applied through chewing.

The butties were tested using a high-tech computer that measures food texture, while taste panels consisting of 50 eager volunteers judged the butties for taste, texture and flavour. Further consumer group research by Danish Bacon confirmed that the formula is a clear favourite with bacon fans – over 60 per cent gave the bacon butties prepared using the new equation the ‘thumbs up’.

The ‘perfect’ bacon buttie – a step-by-step guide

  • Cut two slices of white farmhouse bread (one to two centimetres thick)

  • Take two or three (or more!) rashers of Danish back bacon (smoked or unsmoked – whichever is your preference)

  • Place under preheated oven grill for approximately seven minutes on high (preferably 240 degrees)

  • Turn once during cooking

  • Add sauce to taste, and enjoy!

Four scientists at the Procter Department of Food Science at Leeds University spent over 1,000 hours testing 700 variations of the traditional bacon buttie. Variants included different types and cuts of bacon (smoked, unsmoked, streaky, thick cut), cooking techniques (frying, grilling, oven cooking or microwaving), types of oil (sunflower, olive, vegetable) and a range of cooking times at different temperatures. The result is a formula detailing the exact conditions and requirements for the perfect bacon buttie!

Dr Graham Clayton, who led the research team, said: “We often think that it’s the taste and smell of bacon that consumers find most attractive. But our research proves that texture and sound is just, if not more, important. While there was much debate within our taste panels on the smoked or unsmoked decision, everyone agreed that tough or chewy bacon is a turn-off. So, if you want to cook the ‘perfect’ bacon buttie at home, our recommendation is to choose thinly sliced bacon with just enough fat, grilled in a hot oven and served with dollops of your favourite sauce.”

John Howard, Marketing Director for Danish Bacon, comments: “Nearly half of all bacon rashers bought by British consumers are now eaten in a bacon buttie. Of course people have their individual preferences, but we thought it would be interesting to see whether we could pinpoint the ultimate in bacon butties.”

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