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)
In 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 :-)
In 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 : 


Dear xxxxx
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 involved.
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 proteins.
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 phenomena.
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.
About 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...
And 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.

Kind regards


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