In italics, I leave the parts already covered, while I use bold for the topics introduced in each new course entry.
Bread is a product made from flour (usually wheat), water, salt, and yeast. So, we’ll start by getting to know these ingredients and the functionality of their components. But most bread also incorporates other products such as enzymes, additives, fats, or other ingredients. Furthermore, these other ingredients are present in the production of other baked goods, such as cakes or cookies, so we’ll also discuss them during the course.
In addition to the ingredients, we should address some aspects of the processing. We already know that making bread requires mixing and kneading the ingredients, shaping the dough, fermenting, and baking. But it’s also possible to incorporate a sourdough starter, for example. And other products, like cakes or cookies, require different processing methods. All of these will be covered in this course. Let’s not forget the various types of bread and baked products made around the world.
So, without further delay, let’s get started.
Before anything else, we need to get to know wheat flour a little better and its functionality in making these types of products since it’s the primary ingredient. But before we talk about flour, we need to discuss its components, starting with protein, which usually receives the most attention.
- Wheat Flour
Wheat protein can form the gluten network, which gives the dough its unique characteristics.
Starch is the predominant component in flour, yet it often receives little attention, despite its significant importance.
Although we usually refer to flour quality in terms of gluten quality or the influence of gluten on dough, there are other important parameters. There are also significant defects that flour can have that are not related to gluten. In the first entry on flour quality, we’ll cover these parameters and defects, which are not always well-known.
This is undoubtedly the most visited entry on the blog.
In a new entry in the course, we’ll delve into the relationship between wheat proteins and flour quality, as well as how they adapt to various processes.
Unfortunately, conventional measurements of proteins used in other ingredients do not provide adequate information about flour’s suitability for different processes, especially in baking or other processes where the gluten network is developed. For this reason, specific analysis equipment has been developed to simulate the processes that occur during baking.
For example, there are machines that simulate kneading:
Others simulate shaping or handling of the dough:
And there are also machines that simulate the fermentation process:
All of these machines can provide valuable information, but they need to be used and understood correctly.
However, it’s also important to understand the world of flour mills, the challenges they face, and the tools they have to offer consistent quality flour.
You should also be aware that not all processes require the same type of flour, and their functionality in making cakes or cookies is different, leading to different quality requirements.
2. Essential Ingredients
Now that we know more about wheat flour, let’s explore the roles of the other essential ingredients for bread and similar products. Although it might not receive much attention, water is the second most important ingredient and deserves our attention.
Salt is a fundamental ingredient in breadmaking. In addition to providing flavour and enhancing other flavours in the product, it also influences other aspects of the process and the final quality of the bread. However, we should also consider that the sodium in salt has negative health implications, and there is a trend toward reducing it. All of this is discussed in this entry.
After flour, water, and salt, it’s time to talk about the last of the essential components for making bread, yeast. This component is responsible for fermentation and has evolved significantly in the last century. Nowadays, we find various types of yeast on the market, which we should at least be familiar with.