Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Gluten Gelatinization - Can it retain bread texture ?

"Baking is part science, part stoneground milling and part river-running romance. But it's not the romance that will keep your baking consistently good, it's the science" - Paul Allam in the cookbook, Bourke Street Bakery by Paul Allam and David McGuinness

I enjoy living in this world of trials and errors and love seeking for answers for my questions. The science of baking is so fascinating. The chemistry of flour itself has so much to learn. This is what I gathered from my reading so far...

Gluten is a protein complex formed when wheat flour is mixed with water. The gluten development gives wheat dough an elastic structure that allows the retention of gas bubbles during yeast fermentation. When a bread dough is baked, the yeast dies resulting the air pockets giving the bread a soft and spongy texture. The chemistry of gluten changes in the presence of heat. Gluten toughen when it is heated, thus giving a variety of texture when treated at higher temperature.

Strangely, the chemistry of gluten is also well-understood by my grandmother and mum. We use boiling water in our dumpling dough for a tougher chewy texture. This principle also applies to dough gelatinisation method of making soft Asian bread. Likewise, the cooking of gluten in water roux method is thought to be the method to make soft fluffy bread without the addition of bread improver. However, this opinion has also raised lots of "debate" amongst lots of my fellow food bloggers.

My question is "Can gluten gelatinisation or cooking of gluten retain the texture of bread without the use of any bread improver?

At first, I tried to use the water roux method to cook 10% of flour in an optimized hot cross bun recipe from my Breville breadmaker instructional manual with half amount of water and proceed to make the buns with the cooked dough and the rest of the instructions without adding any bread improver. The buns were soft and tasty when they were freshly baked but were not as good on the next day indicating that the water roux method has shown no effect in improving bread texture.

Now, I'm using a great bread recipe by Lena from Frozen Wing to proceed on my next bread investigation. This original recipe used gelatinisation method and these buns are indeed very soft and fluffy when they were freshly baked but they did not retain their original fluffiness on the next day.

Nothing kills my curiosity at this stage...My next and final baking investigation is to use this similar recipe without gelatinisation method to see any differences with this bake. At the same time, I would like to see if the addition of bread improver makes any difference in texture on the next day.

Stay tune for my next post for the result of my final bread baking investigation.

Here's the recipe for the basic sweet bread dough (gelatinisation method) 
from Lena, Frozen wings

Ingredients A
100g bread flour
70g boiling water

Ingredients B
300g bread flour
100g plain flour
80g sugar
6g salt
20g milk powder
9g instant yeast

175g cold water
60g cold eggs
60g butter

1.Add the boiling water from A into flour, mix until well blended to form dough. Cover and set aside to cool and refrigerate it for at least 12 hours.
2.Mix B until well blended. Add in the cold water and eggs and knead to form rough dough. Add in A and knead until well blended
3.Add in butter till form elastic dough.
4. Let it proof for 40 mins
5.Divide the dough into 60g each and mould it round. Let it rest for 10 mins and flatten it.
6. Place onto a greased pan and proof for 45 mins. Bake at 190°C for 12-15 mins.

Happy Baking.


  1. gelatinisation sounds like a big word to me. the chemistry of baking is one of the thing that kept me hooked onto baking as well :) the bread looks fluffy and and soft. Looking forward to your findings.

  2. hi zoe, sorry to hear that your bread dried up the next day.i've tried both water roux and gelatinised method, though both produce soft breads,i personally prefer the latter cos the dough is much easier to handle and no cooking, ha! i will be looking forward to your next post. Cheers!

  3. So interesting! I've always been curious about food science, what a great peek into that world!

  4. Wow, I wish I could answer your questions, but I'm lower than a novice when it comes to breaking bread! LOL!! Loved the info!

  5. Yes, the gelatiised method can keep the bread stay soft & moist even 3 days after. I made 3 loaves on Sunday. And the bread is still in good shape & moisture untill today. I'll soon post another gelatinised method. I'll definitely keep on using the gelatinised method for my bread in future. It's much better compare to the water roux method. Hope you're having a terrific week ahead.
    Blessings, Kristy

  6. i wish bread have this great chemistry with me then i'll get my hands on it. i was tame by bread making! you did a GREAT JOB! all of it look so soft, fluffy and yummy! (: (:

  7. haha good to read more about your pursuit for the perfect bread post! im def looking to the final instalment ;) so gelatinised method is kinda like tangzhong cept u use boiling water instead of 65C?

    ive been reading some books on bread making these days too but haven't tried any recipes!

  8. The bread looks so soft from the photo. Gambatte to your bread experiment!

  9. All your experimentation sure yielded some beautiful rolls!

  10. I like your experiments very much. Only recently have I started dealing with dough and all this infor is very helpful to me. These rolls look mouthwatering!

  11. Very informative. I couldn't master the tangzhong method, even with the breadmaker, super wet to handle, so need to add more flour. I tried the gluten gelatinization method and I was happy with it, bread was soft and fluffy, stayed that way the next day. Sometimes if I'm busy, I just let it prove longer, perhaps longer period of prooving helps.

  12. Mmmmmq this is very nice proposal! Tks!

  13. Hi,

    I would like to try this recipe but I do not quite understand step#5 : Divide the dough into 60g each and mould it round. Let it rest for 10 mins and flatten it.
    (i) Do I place the "flatten dough" onto the baking tray? Normally, I shape my dough round before placing onto baking tray.
    (ii) Do you use rolling pin to flatten or use your palm?

    Many thanks,

  14. Hi Chilliqueen,

    I don't think the flattening part is crucial as long the shape of the bread is the kind that you wanted. I'm guessing this step is to the knocking step to remove air from the dough so that all will rise uniformly together at the last proving step. What I did for step 5 is first divide the dough to 60g each, then shape into round balls, let it rest for 10 min. To me, the flattening part is totally optional, if you want to flatten them, do it gently with your palm. Cheers.


  15. Hi Zoe,

    Thanks fo sharing this recipe and answer to my questions..I made this bread today and they turn out so well, the texture is cotton-like fluffy :))

    Many thanks

    1. Happy that this recipe works well for you. No worries!

      Honestly, I still have mixed feeling for using gelatinisation method for bread making. Definitely, overnight fermentation makes breads taste better but I'm still not too sure of gelatinisation method. Personally, I think it is the composition of flour, water and other ingredients that matters. In regardless and for less fuss, I will prefer to stick to the recipe as written in this book.

  16. Hi Zoe,

    Today I make this bread again but in double qty :p
    It turn out that the dough is sticky n I added quite a bit of flour to make it less sticky. However, by doing so, it had affected the bread's texture. I wonder could the stickiness be caused by too much liquid being added? My cold egg weighs 52g (without shell) so i added 8g of cold water to make it 60g. Or should I just go ahead using just 52g of egg in future?

    Many thanks

  17. Hi Chilliqueen,

    sorry for my late reply. I was very sick for the past few days. If your eggs are too small, I don't recommend you to replace any missing eggs with water... I will add in more egg instead. Cheers.