Wheat flour is unique among cereal
flours. When mixed with water
, the protein in the flour forms gluten, creating an elastic dough capable of holding gas. Properly mixed, gluten produces desired loaf volume and crumb structure in baked bread.
A good quality, consistent flour is the key to the quality of the finished product. While bread
is made by many different baking
processes, the common objective is to develop the gluten. All methods are a combination of five basic processing steps.
Flour, water, yeast and other ingredients are mixed to form a dough. Mixing
develops the gluten in the flour for optimum gas retention at later stages of proofing and baking. Mixing incorporates air
into the dough. In some processes, additives included at the mixing
stage reduce or eliminate fermentation
Yeast organisms feed on sugars and produce carbon dioxide which expands the volume of dough. As fermentation proceeds, the gluten is conditioned and mellowed and becomes elastic.
Dividing is the process that separates the bulk dough into pieces of the correct weight. Rounding removes the stickness and restores a smooth surface to the dough pieces. The dough is allowed to rest after rounding in a process called intermediate proofing, which makes it easier to machine. The dough is sheeted into a flat piece, moulded into the desired shape and transferred for final proofing.
Generally, the dough is placed in a fermentation cabinet under constant temperature
and humidity. Under these conditions gluten regains its elasticity. As fermentation continues, the dough increases in volume.
Baking transforms dough into bread. In the oven, the dough expands, takes on a stable shape, develops the desired flavour, and forms a crust. After baking, the bread is cooled and may be sliced and/or packaged.
Four basic bread types:
Pan breads usually require medium protein levels since the pan supports the loaf size and structure. They are typically produced in highly mechanized operations and are consumed in most markets around the world.
Hearth breads can be small rolls or large loaves and usually need medium to high protein flour to provide the necessary volume. They are consumed in markets around the world.
Flat breads are common in the Middle East and Indian subcontinent. They are usually made from wheat with lower levels of gluten strength.
Steamed breads are a major baked product in China and other Asian countries. The flour needs to be highly refined to provide the desirable bright, white color.