Gluten

Gluten

Gluten is a protein present in the seed of cereals such as wheat, rye and barley. AND, like all proteins, it is also responsible for tissue regeneration, for being part of the composition of our muscles, for acting in the defense of the organism and in the transformation of energy, since it is catalyzed in the presence of enzymes and hormones.
When mixed with water, the gluten swells, forming a very thin network. In other words, it is exactly this network that will give elasticity to bread doughs, making them grow well and maintain their shape. When gluten is formed, this network traps the gases released during fermentation and this causes the masses to grow.
This gas is the carbon dioxide, or famous “yeast fart”, which expands under high temperatures. In the same way, gluten, once formed and shaped, is resistant to this temperature variation. Therefore, even if its hydrogen bonds cease to exist due to water evaporation, it maintains the product’s formatting during and after the oven.
The dough needs to be kneaded for gluten formation, but with some caveats. The first is that mechanical friction must happen up to the famous veil point (point where the gluten has already formed and the dough is elastic to the point of gently stretching without it breaking) or until the dough is around 27˚C.
Therefore, it is always very important to knead your dough properly, so that the gluten networks develop well and you have a satisfactory end result! If the gluten networks are weak, the dough will not have enough elasticity to expand when the air bubbles formed during fermentation start to grow. The gas bubbles would then swell and explode, causing your bread to run out of volume.
However, if gluten network it is too heavy, that is, if you get excited and knead your bread too much, the fermentation air bubbles will not be able to expand and you will have a bread with very dense dough. A very funny example that they use out there is comparing the bread dough with a gum: the more you chew, the harder it gets!
Therefore, it is essential to pay attention to the temperature and / or the veil point in the case of breads, and only beat until homogenized after adding flour in the case of cakes. This is the recipe for success.
When the bread is baked, the gluten protein coagulates, that is, the gluten will no longer be elastic and from there the final volume of your bread will be determined. The final result of its preparation should always be a firm but soft bread inside and with a light texture!
Photo: Getty Images
Collaboration: Marcella Coser

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