The Strength in the Dough: Gluten

dough gluten protein strong dough

You use protein to bulk up. So does your dough, in the form of gluten. This storage protein unique in wheat, rye and triticale is a reserve of amino acids. When these wheats are in flour form and mixed with water, gluten takes on unique viscoelastic properties.

Gluten is elastic, viscous and extensible. It gives bread it’s springy texture, allowing dough to stretch. It also provides texture, stabilization, flavor and dough strength.

But when it’s not enough for your dough

Sometimes you need a little more strength than the gluten naturally present in flour can add. If that’s the case, try one of these ingredients:

  • Vital wheat gluten
  • Solubilized wheat gluten
  • Protein isolate
  • Complexed gluten
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein

If you use one of these, you’ll need to increase the water in your formula. And if you add to much gluten, your dough will be dry, have a bad pan flow, and too high of an oven spring.

What is vital wheat gluten made up of?

Commercial vital wheat gluten is roughly 73% protein (78% dry basis), 6% total fat, 6% moisture and <1% ash. The major components of wheat gluten consist of gluten and gliadin. Wheat gluten is sometimes referred to as a protein-lipid-polysaccharide complex because it contains, on average, 72.5% protein (77.5% dry basis), 5.7% lipids, and 10-15% starch including 6.4% moisture, 0.7% ash and minor amounts of dietary fiber.
Due to its cohesive and viscoelastic properties, gluten’s main function is a strengthener. It is also a film former, binder, texturizer, fat emulsifying agent, processing aid, stabilizer, water absorption and retention agent, thermosetting agent, and an agent for flavor and color. In bread, its interaction with starch is believed to be the main contributor to the viscoelasticity.

About the Author:

Lin Carson, PhD
Dr. Lin Carson’s love affair with baking started over 25 years ago when she earned her BSc degree in Food Science & Technology at the Ohio State University. She went on to earn her MSc then PhD from the Department of Grain Science at Kansas State University. Seeing that technical information was not freely shared in the baking industry, Dr. Lin decided to launch BAKERpedia to cover this gap. Today, as the world’s only FREE and comprehensive online technical resource for the commercial baking industry, BAKERpedia is used by over half a million commercial bakers, ingredient sellers, equipment suppliers and baking entrepreneurs annually. You can catch Dr. Lin regularly on the BAKED In Science podcast solving baking problems. For more information on Dr. Lin, subscribe to her "Ask Dr. Lin" YouTube Channel, or follow her on LinkedIn.

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