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jeudi 17 février 2022
Questions about bread
I got very interesting questions :
In your ‘Molecular Gastronomy 2006’ I found two (in fact three) very interesting articles about bread.
I am taking my chance here, since you invited your readers to ‘not hesitate’ with their questions.
Here are my questions :-)
1. (a short one)
articel 68 'Bread and crackers' you are pointing out that bread between
-20 and 0°C still undergoes alteration. Am I correct when I suggest
that (sourdough) bread can be stored in the refrigerator at 6-10°C as
well? Most bakers advise to put bread in the freezer. I like it better
in the refrigerator, because defrosting can be ommited! Also, from my
experience, it seems to me that restoring the bread in the oven for a
few minutes at 180°C gives better result from being at a starting
temperature of 10°C than of -18°C. I cannot explain why. Can you
confirm? And if so, explain?
2. (a very long one, sorry :-)
article 35 The secrets of bread, the first sentence ends with ‘(…)
proteins, which form a glutenous network as dough is kneaded’. Theories
that explain how gluten makes bread possible always are taking into
account the importance of kneading the dough, being the starting point
and condition of existence of the gluten network. But recently (and I
think even since 1980’s) more and more bakers (like Chad Robertson of
Tartine Bakery in the USA and the Respectus Panus movement in France)
are exploring traditional methods that includes abandoning the kneading
(and the use of commercial yeast), while letting the dough produce de
gluten network in a spontaneous way (and ferment with sourdough).
Instead of kneading, a slow mix of 2 minutes, just to hydrate the flour
would be sufficient. After that only time is involved, no other
ingredients. Also I believe that in preparing the sourdough starter
there must be some spontaneous production of gluten involved, in the
time that the starter develops (ripens), because in this time span the
starter is able to double its volume within a few hours, while holding
the carbon oxide in the sourdough mixture. But how is this proces going
along with the process of fermentation. How can the two processes catch
up and how to manage them? Is there a difference for the gluten between
fermenting the starter and fermenting the dough, when nor starter nor
dough is being mixed? Bioscience does not give any answers here, true?
In my opinion scientist are biased through the common practice of the
baking industry and they might focus on the wrong assumptions about
bread making. Does the practice of this new generation of traditional
bakers have consequences for scientific understanding bread making? In a
way bioscience of breadmaking is still focussing on the shortcomings of
common bakery industry related to intensive mixing practice, don't you
think? Shouldn't they shift their focus to different aspects of bread
making? Personally I would like to know more about the relation between
the proces of gluten development and the parallel proces of fermentation
through the microflora (microbiota). It seems to me that this is the
main issue that I am trying to master as a professional sourdough baker,
in my own bakery just through the empirical research of trial and
error. How can bioscience be helpfull here? Do you know of any research
about this issue in present days?
And here are my answers :
Thanks for your kind message.
Let's begin by saying that indeed the interaction between proteins
making a network are unknown. In the past, I assumed that they were
disulfide bridges, but then came a work by Tilley and others, about
dityrosine bonds being responsible of the netword... but finally, it
seems to me that the "sugar effect" shows that only weak forces are
Indeed, for this experiment,
you make a dough, and when it's strong, you simply add icy sugar... and
the structure is destroyed, probably because water molecules are more
attracted by sucrose molecules (a lot of hydroxy groups) than by
In this assumption, the new
hydration method can be explained... but as a scientist, I would say
that any theory is insufficient, and we have to look more closely to the
And I am not a specialist
of bread. Indeed, I tried always to avoid the questions of bread,
cheese, wine, because they are too difficult, and this is why I have to
apologize not being able to answer better.
the first question, I have to be more precise: at temperatures more
than -20 °C, there are changes with time. And the hotter the
temperature, the faster the changes.
Explaining your observation? It would take months or years...
one final reflection: "gluten" is a very annoying term, because it
makes people think that this is a specific material, but depending on
the particular proteins involved (year of cultivation, etc.) you will
have different glutenS ! Indeed the word gluten was introduced centuries
ago, and I am always annoyed to use it myself, and this is why I prefer
speaking of "protein network"... But wait: who ever demonstrated that
there are only proteins participating to this network ???
You see after my answer you have more questions than before. I am sorry about that.