Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Long and Short of Fermentation.

Understanding bread fermentation can shed some light on what is needed for a gluten free dough. The reasons for mimicking glutens properties to create a dough that will trap the gases produced during fermentation and using flours that provide sugars and protein for yeast to eat, are very important when it comes to fermentation of gluten free doughs.

Fermentation, also referred to as the first rise, is the process whereby the yeast grows and produces carbon dioxide, alcohol and other compounds which enable dough to rise and modify its physical properties. The yeast digests the sugars in the flour producing alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2). The carbon dioxide gets trapped in the pockets that result from the kneading process and causes the bread to expand or rise and develop flavor.

When the fermentation is correctly achieved, depending on the quality of flour among other things, the baker will obtain the proper external and internal characteristics (grain and texture) suitable for a determined finished product.

Fermentation begins as soon as the yeast is in contact with the mixture of water and flour. During the first fermentation (bulk fermentation), the baker lets the dough rise for a first time. During that stage, the physical properties of the dough (extensibility and elasticity) are modified, thus completing the kneading action.
This is an important stage on which depends the final quality of the bread: external and internal characteristics, taste and aroma.

Fermentation is one of the critical and essential steps in bread baking. It is through the various complex biochemical reactions that are caused by the yeast cells that fermentation achieves the following goals for the baker:
  • Improves dough handling characteristics
  • Enhances gas retention in doughs
  • Enhances finished product texture
  • Provides desirable fermentation flavor
  • Extends shelf-life of final product
Critical as it is, merely having a fermentation step does not automatically guarantee desirable attributes in the final product. For that, proper fermentation control and consistency is key. Given that fermentation is caused by yeast, a living cell, the controls that need to be put in place have to be effective in influencing the environmental factors that regulate yeast activity in that dough. It is also worthwhile to point out that in a dough yeast is active from the point it is mixed with the other dough ingredients in a mixer until the point it is inactivated in the oven. The various factors that affect yeast activity and the degree of fermentation in the baking process are:
  • Fermentation time - This factor determines the amount of time yeast gets to act on the sugars present in the ferment, whether it be a sponge, brew, or a straight-dough. While the rate of fermentation declines with time at a constant temperature, it does not completely stop. However, the longer the fermentation time, the higher the degree of fermentation. 
  • Fermentation temperature - Like any other living cell, the various enzymatic activities of the yeast cell are closely tied to the temperature of the environment. Therefore, higher ferment temperatures increase yeast activity, and vice-versa. Published literature indicates that within the range of temperatures in which yeast is operative, every one degree rise in temperature increases the rate of yeast fermentation by 3-5%. Likewise, a decrease of 1°F will cause a similar decrease in the rate of fermentation. The temperature range for optimum yeast fermentation is between 75°F-85°F.
  • Specific ingredients in dough formulation:
    • Level of water - Generally, stiffer doughs take longer to ferment as compared to slacker ones. With additional water, the soluble solids are diluted and the osmotic pressure on the yeast cells is reduced. This causes an increase in yeast activity and the overall rate of fermentation.
    • Level of sugar, salt and mold-inhibitor - It is well known that yeast fermentation is retarded in the presence of high concentrations of sugar and salt. This inhibitory effect is related to the high osmotic pressure gradient created outside of the yeast cells due to high concentrations of sugar and/or salt in dough. A measurable decline in fermentation rate is observed if the concentration of sugar exceeds 5%. This effect is more pronounced with sucrose, glucose, and fructose than with maltose. When very little or no sugar is added, as in the case of French or Italian bread formulations, the primary source of fermentable sugars is derived from the flour. Flour contains approximately 0.5 - 1% of a combination of sucrose, glucose, and fructose, which are generally fermented within 1 - 1.5 hours. Yeast turns to maltose for CO2 production after these preferred sugars are exhausted. Once that happens, the rate of fermentation is limited by the amount of maltose being hydrolyzed (broken down) in the dough. The availability of maltose is directly related to the damaged starch content and amylase activity of the flour. Maltose is a disaccharide and is not broken down into its constituent glucose molecules until it is absorbed into the yeast cell. Therefore, it exerts a lower osmotic pressure than the monosaccharides and the readily hydrolyzed sucrose. Salt also inhibits yeast activity at levels above 1%. The normal usage of salt in most breads range between 1.75-2.25% to obtain desired flavor of the product. In fact, some bakers add higher levels of salt as a means of fermentation control. Satisfactory fermentation rates can usually be achieved in doughs containing high levels of salt or sugar by increasing the amount of yeast used.
    • Dough pH - The pH of doughs or preferments has little effect on yeast fermentation, unless it drops below 4.0. In general, data shows that yeast activity is fairly constant over a pH range of 4-6, which represents a 100-fold change in acidity. At the onset of fermentation, dough pH is approximately 5.5-5.8. However, during the course of fermentation, it decreases to 4.9-5.1, due to the production of carbonic acid (CO2 dissolved in water) and other organic acids. This pH drop is resisted by the buffering action of several dough ingredients. Both flour and milk are excellent buffers and help to maintain the pH range for optimum fermentation. The reason why yeast is tolerant within the broad dough-pH range, is that the pH within the yeast cell remains quite constant at about 5.8, regardless of the pH variations in the dough. Since the various enzymes involved in yeast metabolism of sugars are located within the yeast cell, the gassing activity is relatively unaffected by external changes in pH.

Bread recipes specify the length of fermentation and how much the dough should rise. Choices for raising are:
  1. Short Rest Period - For bread recipes using instant active dry yeast: The first rise is usually a short rest period, taking about 10 minutes, and afterwards, it is divided and shaped. The dough does utilize a final fermentation period after being shaped. However, even with recipes using instant active dry yeast, a longer overnight refrigerator rise is used to develop its irregular air bubbles in its crumb, such as baguettes. A final fermentation period follows its shaping stage.
  2. Rise until (ALMOST) doubled - For bread recipes using active dry or fresh yeast, requires two rises, a first one after mixing, and a second one after shaping: Allow the dough to rise until ALMOST double in volume or bulk, although bread dough, heavy with bran and grains, will not rise much. This is tested when a fingertip is pressed into the top of the dough; fully fermented dough will retain the impression for at least 5 minutes and won’t spring back. It’s because the gluten has been stretched to the limit of its elasticity you have developed in the dough. 
  3. Multiple rising periods: Some recipes require multiple rising periods, such as a punch down and a second rise, such as in long-fermentation lean dough. As long as the dough stays in bulk(prior to dividing into smaller units), it is still in primary fermentation regardless of how many times it is punched down.
Fermentation is what gives bread flavor. But more than flavor, affects crust (thickness and color), crumb (texture), and shelf life. Good bread takes time!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Ratios in Gluten Free Bread Baking.

Ratios are what give gluten free baking the trial and error characteristic.
When you bake using ratios, you can double or triple a recipe with ease. Remember, always weigh the dry ingredients! In fact, its best to weigh the other ingredients, such as water and sugar, insuring you're following the ratio as closely as possible. Adopting how you measure by using grams instead of cups is one way to take one variable out of the baking equation.

In the gluten-free baking world, recipes for baked goods like scones, cakes, and breads are often based on a ratio of gluten-free flours to sugar, liquids, eggs, and fat. If you follow these ratios, you have a better chance of getting the result you want with gluten-free flours. Ratios of ingredients are what make a cookie different from a cake and a scone different from a pancake.

When you make a recipe using ratios, you need to establish the base ingredient. This can be any of the ingredients. Most bakers use eggs as the base because eggs are the least variable of all the ingredients. A large egg weighs 2 ounces, or 56 grams. If your recipe calls for 3 parts flour to 3 parts liquid to 1 part egg, you need 168 grams (3 × 56) of flour and liquid. You can use the liquid for the base ingredient also. Just keep the ratios consistent and weigh every ingredient and your gluten-free baked goods will be delicious.

With these ratios, you can substitute teff flour for sorghum flour and water for buttermilk without worry. You can change the flavor of a recipe from sweet to savory and vice versa with the confidence of knowing that scones will be flaky and crumbly, cakes will be tender, and breads will have a lovely, airy crumb.

The following table lists some of the basic ratios for common baked goods. Remember that these ratios are measured by weight, not by volume.

Basic Ratios for Common Baked Goods

Angel food cake
1 part

3 parts

3 parts
5 parts
3 parts
2 parts
2 parts

1 part (1/2 part for fudgy)

1 part
1 part
2 parts
Drop cookies
3 parts

1 part
2 parts
1 part
2 parts
2 parts
1 part
1 part

4 parts
4 parts
2 parts
1 part

Pie crust
3 parts
1 part

2 parts

Pound cake
1 part

1 part
1 part
1 part
Quick breads
2 parts
2 parts
1 part
1 part

Roll-out cookies
2 parts

1/2 part
1 part
1 part
3 parts
1 part
1 part
1 part

Shortening cakes
2 parts
2 parts
1 part
1 part
2 parts
Yeast breads
5 parts
3 parts

The formulas above are used for developing recipes, but can be used to check whether a recipe should work. If the ratios in a recipe are way off of these numbers, you may want to try another recipe.
Not all ratios for all baked goods are the same; the numbers in the table are general, not specific. You may find that for the scones you like, you prefer more flour and more egg, or that for muffins, you want a bit less flour and more egg. If you choose to bake with ratios, measure carefully by weight and keep track of the ratios that work for you.

According to Ruhlman, baking bread is as simple as four ingredients (flour, water, salt and yeast) and two numbers: 5 and 3. That’s the ratio of flour to water that will create a basic bread dough. How much yeast and salt you need is less precise, but he suggests at least one teaspoon of each in a batch based on 20 ounces of flour.

Typically gluten free yeast bread recipes used the ratio of 5 parts flour to 3 parts liquid.

Always keep in mind that many gluten free recipes require more liquid than other recipes.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

What Hydration means for Gluten Free Doughs.

From my earlier post about bakers percentage and bread hydration I wanted to elaborate a bit more the importance of hydration for gluten free doughs and reasons why.

For starters, gluten free bread recipes usually have a higher amount of water than regular gluten bread recipes do. There are several reasons for this:
  1. Most gluten-free flours are in the form of whole grain. These nutritious flours have higher protein levels and they are more dense. Flours that absorb more water, typically have a higher protein content and dense whole grain flours are heavier than wheat flour thus absorbing more water.
  2. Starch flours have a high water absorption capacity and most gluten free flour blends contain a percentage of starches. Starch naturally holds onto water providing structure and strength within a gluten free dough.
  3. Binders used in gluten free baking absorb water to produce their gelatinous qualities mimicking the properties of gluten.
Higher hydration levels for Gluten Free Bread

Next it is the important factors water has for bread dough.
Dough must be soft and flexible in order to rise properly - a factor of how much water is in the dough. If the dough is stiff, it is difficult for the expanding gases to lift the dough and create volume. After your dough is kneaded, it should be soft and nearly sticky. As a general rule when mixing bread, error on the side of too much water.

Too little water results in a stiff dough. This means that the loaf is likely to be small and stunted. More cake like in texture than bread like. A stiff dough prevents proper expansion, resulting in loaf breaking at
the seam (the weakest point) and won’t achieve proper cell structure.

Stiff dough
A little too much water can see the bread rise too far with the result of large holes in the bread. This "open texture" makes the bread difficult to cut, dries out too quickly and is generally of a weak structure. But this maybe a desired result when making breads such as ciabattas.

A "lot too much" water will see the loaf quite flat, heavy and soggy as it fails to trap the gas from the yeast and also tends to be under baked in the middle.

Wet dough
While it seems hydration is important to a light fluffy loaf it also could result in a flat gummy bread. The key is to have as high a hydration to the dough that will still safely hold it's shape time and time again.

Generally speaking wetter doughs will have big holes in the crumb, and drier/firmer doughs with lower hydration will have a closer more dense crumb.

Finally, apart from accurately weighing your gluten free flour, you also need to accurately measure the water. Again you will be disappointed if you rely upon the markings on water jugs to provide a really accurate measurement. The glass jugs are notorious for mis-measurement. Water is most accurately weighed on your scales just like the flours are.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Mixing and Kneading Gluten Free Bread.

Many bakers consider mixing the most important step in baking. All steps of the baking process are connected and all of them are important. However, knowing that mixing is the first mandatory step to produce bread, a lot of attention must be given to this stage of the baking process. Especially when it comes to gluten free bread as there are many flours to combine and slightly different aspects of the ingredients that need to be taken account for but all is greatly benefited by the technique of mixing.

The general objectives in mixing bread doughs are:
  • Uniformly incorporate the ingredients;
  • Development of the binders structure;
  • Hydrate the flour and other dry ingredients;
  • Initiate fermentation.

Mixing is the most technical aspect of bread baking. There are different mixing methods that produce different results. Mixing methods affect crumb size, open or closed, color of the crust and crumb and how long the dough needs to ferment.

The three commonly used bread mixing methods are:   
  • Straight dough method - the most common method used for bread baking. All the ingredients are mixed together at one time in one bowl, kneaded and left to rise until double in size. Then dough is 'punched' down, shaped and set for a second rise until doubled in size again. Finally dough is baked. This is the method used for most gluten-free doughs, and it's also the easiest method.
  • Sponge and dough method - extends fermentation, allowing for better texture, rise and complex flavor. A percentage of the total flour, water, and yeast are mixed to form a sponge or pre-ferment. As less yeast is used, a longer, cooler fermentation can be applied, from three to twenty-four hours. When the sponge is ripe, it is incorporated into the remaining flour, water, salt, and other ingredients to form a dough, kneaded, shaped, and and given a second rise then baked. During the long rising time the lactic acid bacteria in the water-flour mixture have full time to develop. The resulting buildup of organic acids and alcohols contributes to a more developed flavor profile and has proved to be a method very beneficial for gluten free breads.
  • No knead method - is the simplest of all of the mixing techniques. It uses a very long rising time instead of kneading to form the dough and is characterized by a low yeast content and a very wet dough. A very moist dough is made from a simple mixture of flour, yeast, water and salt, is left overnight to ferment, and then folded one or two times, rather than a lengthy kneading process. It is rested and then, shaped, and allowed to rise another two hours. Finally baked in a very hot oven.
    This method relies on the development of gluten during the slow rise to from the breads structure. Since there is no gluten in gluten free bread, the combination of gluten free flours and their different proteins, fibre and starch contents have similar gluten benefits from a long and wet fermentation time providing structure for gluten free bread. 

During mixing, aeration and thorough blending of the combination of gluten free flours is performed and the binders, such as psyllium, release their gelatinous substances which is necessary to develop the structure of the dough. For example, yeasted bread dough made without wheat flour lack extensibility or stretch. The psyllium adds the flexibility and stretch.

Mixing, especially for yeast breads, is very different when you use gluten-free flours. First of all, you must mix together the different flours thoroughly before you add them. Gluten-free flours are all different colors. The best way to make sure the flours are well-mixed is to stir them together with a wire whisk until the mixture is one color. Then, you use a stand or hand mixer to thoroughly mix the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients. Some gluten free bakers say you can not overmix gluten-free doughs because they have no gluten to overdevelop but you can make your dough denser with to much mixing. A balanced amount of mixing will provide efficient ingredient corporation while still keeping a lighter dough.

Most bakers experience with gluten free bread insist that the dough should be a batter and that kneading is not necessary as there is no gluten to develop. Bread dough needs to be elastic in order to capture the gases created by the yeast, stretch as bubbles form in the dough, expand, and rise. Without that elasticity, bread would not have the open texture we enjoy nor would bread be chewy. When using psyllium as the binder it creates a structure and elasticity much like gluten thus producing a mass thats not a batter but more like a gluten bread dough. Kneading gluten free doughs improves the crumb structure. Only a minimal time is required for kneading but it is necessary to develop the crumb and to ensure the dough obtains the right consistency.

Kneading gluten free dough is done when all the ingredients are incorporated together before the first rise. The easiest way to knead the dough is with a stand mixer. Using a stand mixer ensures proper distribution and incorporation of the ingredients. Kneading is done until the dough looks shiny, smooth, elastic and is extensible (stretchy). This time is much less that gluten bread, by more than half, only several minutes is needed.

 A second knead is done after the first rise and takes place as turning and shaping the dough. Turning, also called folding,the dough is done by gently deflating, stretching, and folding the dough. This helps to improve both the texture and flavor of the finished bread. Turning is a gentler form of 'punching down' (degassing) the dough and is more beneficial for gluten free dough. Next shaping forms the dough for optimal rise and containment. It is also the last chance to build strength into a loaf. The goal is to turn and shape the dough without popping valuable air bubbles, losing carbon dioxide that provide the structure and crumb texture in bread. Once shaped a second rise will take place. A double fermentation creates stronger stability and structure in the bread but also increases the flavor.

The most common reason for dense breads is the addition of too much flour, most of us add flour to get a smooth feel. Learn to work with slacker (wetter) dough, which is somewhat sticky. Use only just enough extra flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the bench. It's the moisture content in the dough that turns to steam in the oven that helps to give it the oven rise, creating an open, light and airy texture and crumb, and more flavors.

Kneading gluten-free bread dough until the right consistency has been reached will take some getting used too but after a few times it will become second nature. 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Using The Baker’s Percentage and Bread Hydration for Gluten Free Bread.

The philosophy of the bakers percentage and bread hydration is completely relevant in gluten free baking. In fact this knowledge will not only help you to successfully bake gluten free bread, by understand basic bread formulas and then applying the same philosophy to gluten free bread but also plan and predict what outcome you would be expecting from your bread from the adjustments made due to the different aspects that gluten free ingredients have.

Firstly, what is the baker's percentage?
The baker's percentage is a way to state the ratio of ingredients to one another by weight. 
Bakers refer to the amount of water (and other ingredients) in dough using a percentage system, where each ingredient in a recipe (formula) is specified as a percentage and is given by comparing the weight of that ingredient to the weight of the largest ingredient, usually the flour weight, which is always represented as 100%.
For example, lets use a basic white bread recipe with the following ingredients:
  • 500 g flour 
  • 330 g water 
  • 5 g dry instant yeast 
  • 10 g salt 
The calculation for percentage is: ingredient weight divided by total flour weight then multiply by 100.
  • Flour: 500 ÷ 500 = 1.00 x 100 = 100%
  • Water: 330 ÷ 500 = 0.66 x 100 = 66%
  • Yeast: 5 ÷ 500 = .01 x 100 = 1%
  • Salt: 10 ÷ 500 = .02 x 100 = 2%
Now the recipe or formula expressed in Bakers Percentage:
  • 100% flour
  • 66% water
  • 1% Yeast
  • 2% salt
With gluten free baking several flours are used but still the combined total flour weight will always be 100%.

What are the benefits gained by using baker’s percentage:
  • The measurements in baker’s percent are calculated by weight, ensuring consistent results and highly recommended for gluten free bread baking.
  • Baker’s percentage can be used to quickly change hydration levels to account for changes in flour consistency (greatly important for gluten free baking as many flours are used)
  • can also be used to identify problems in a formula (i.e., if it is not balanced or if certain ingredient amounts are too high or too low). 
  • make an educated guess about the kind of bread you'll get from a formula by working out the hydration amount using the bakers percentage.
To work out what is the required weight of each ingredient for a recipe, take the ingredient percentage and multiply it by the total flour weight.
  • 66% (water percentage) x 500 g (flour weight) = 330 g (water weight)

Once you have an understanding of the bakers percentage it becomes very useful for gluten free baking as there are many flours used and the hydration (water amount) of the dough is normally higher than regular bread so you are able to calculate the exact weights and amounts of each ingredient and balance your recipe accordingly. 

The follow on from bakers percentage is Bread Hydration. Bread hydration is the weight of the liquids relative to the weight of the flour, the hydration level helps the us predict the texture of the crumb. Crumb is a term that bakers use to define the inside of the bread. The crumb is the pattern of holes inside of a loaf.

To calculate the hydration level of a conventional recipe, divide the total liquid weight by the total flour weight and then multiply the result by 100. 
  • 330 g (liquid weight) ÷ 500 g (flour weight) = 0.66 x 100 = 66% (hydration level)
NOTE: Liquid ingredients include water, milk, alcohol, and juice. Oil or other fats don't count towards hydration.

So what does all mean? By working out the bread hydration you can determine the breads crumb. The amount of water in dough determines the type of bread it will make. Drier doughs make more solid bread, such as bagels or sandwich loaves, while wet doughs produce "rustic" bread, i.e. open crumb structures with big holes, such as Italian ciabatta.

50% - 60% HYDRATION
Dough texture: Stiff, very firm, dry and satiny; not tacky.
Yields: dense crumb in breads such as bagels, pretzels.
Bagels traditional have a dense tight crumb creating a chewy texture. They are one of the least hydrated doughs and are extremely stiff which gives their distinct texture and appearance.

60% - 70% HYDRATION
Dough texture: Standard, tacky but not sticky; supple.
Yields: a denser, closed crumb, in breads such as sandwich bread, rolls, French and other European breads.
As hydration increases, the hole structure of the crumb gets larger and more irregular. Artisan breads generally have at least a 60% hydration level. White sandwich bread, French bread, and challah, use around 60 to 65% hydration. The dough starts to be a bit more tacky, but also more extensible. These doughs can hold their shape well, but also allow for a greater volume in proofing (rising).

70% - 85% HYDRATION
Dough texture: Rustic, wet, sticky.
Yields: an airy crumb and large, irregular holes, in breads such as ciabatta, focaccia, pizza.
An Artisan Bakers baguette has 70% hydration. On the higher end of the spectrum you have breads like focaccia and ciabatta, which could be 65 to 80% or more hydrated. These doughs are extremely sticky and need careful shaping. They might need a bit more bake time than usual prevent the inside from being gummy.

The extra large hole structure of ciabatta's is caused by very high hydration levels and long fermentation times. Holes this large are considered difficult to achieve in the craft of baking. A bread with holes this big is not considered a good sandwich bread because the filling might leak out the holes and be messy.

The hydration percentage for gluten free bread doughs will be higher compared to bread with gluten, but the philosophy still applies just the same. Gluten-free flours are heavier and absorb more moisture than wheat flours, so they need a bit more liquid and in addition the binders also absorb water. Usually the dough is "looser" with more hydration and will rise more easily than a stiff loaf.  A percentage of 80-100 would be suitable for a gluten free sandwich loaf compared to a gluten sandwich loaf of 60 - 70%. Baking times need to be a lot longer given the high hydration. Baking around 60 minutes, to an internal temperature of 210°F.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

So Many Gluten Free Flours!

I have posted about my favourite gluten free flours to use for bread baking but that doesn't mean you have to limit yourself to just those. The flours I prefer, I am able to source them easily, they are affordable and most of all produce excellent results. There are so many more gluten free flours and can come from different sources ie. grains, nuts, vegetables so if your are avoiding grains or allergic to nuts or can not get access to, there are lots of other flours you can use. Just remember that you can not replace a flour with another and expect the same results. Each gluten free flour is unique because of their individual properties.

This list is divided into the different sources of gluten free flours, their qualities and uses.

Rice and Grain Gluten Free Flour

Brown Rice Flour is stone ground from the rice hull and has a nice nutty taste. It can be used for cookies when combined with other flours, and alone as a thickener or a crispy coating for vegetables, meats, poultry, and fish. This flour contains 2.9 g of protein and 1.8 g of fiber per ¼ cup. Keep refrigerated for best results.
White Rice Flour is ground from polished long- or medium-grain rice and is rich in protein. It will never go bad if stored in a cool, dry place. It can be used for cookies, breads, and other yeast-baked goods when combined with other flours, as well as a thickener. White rice flour contains 2.4 g of protein per ¼ cup.
Sweet Rice Flour is made from short-grain, or sticky, rice. It has a higher starch content than white rice flour, and it is a very good thickener or binder—excellent in pizza and breads. It contains 3 g of protein and 1 g of dietary fiber per ¼ cup serving.
Buckwheat Flour is made from buckwheat, which is not related to wheat but to sorrel, knotweed, and rhubarb. It resembles wheat flour in taste and texture and makes great pancakes. Store in the refrigerator to prevent going rancid. In a ¼ cup serving there are 3 g of fiber and 3.5 g of protein.
Millet is made from millet grain and requires a binding agent. It can replace 1/3 of wheat flour in a recipe and has a sweet taste. This flour can be used in pancakes, tortillas, and baked goods when combined with other flours. A 1/3 cup serving yields 4 g of protein.
Certified Gluten Free Oat Bran is ground from the outer husk of the oat grain. Keep it in a cool, dry place to prevent it from going rancid. It can be used as an additive in baked goods and breads, and a 1/3 cup serving yields 4 g of protein and 2.5 g of dietary fiber. *Make sure it is certified gluten free.*
Certified Gluten Free Oat Flour is made from the ground oat grain. It can be used in baked goods when combined with other flours. Per 1/3 cup there are 4 g of protein and 2.5 g of dietary fiber. *Make sure it is certified gluten free.*
Quinoa Flour is made from quinoa seeds and is high in protein and dietary fiber. The flavor is mild and somewhat nutty, and it lends moisture to gluten-free baked goods. Quinoa flour should be refrigerated, as it has a tendency to go rancid. It is often combined with tapioca, potato starch, and sorghum for use in baked goods. A ¼ cup serving yields 4 g of protein and 2 g of dietary fiber, as well as over twice the amount of calcium found in wheat.
Sorghum Flour is made from sorghum grain and has a long shelf life. This flour has a bitter aftertaste. By itself it can be used in unleavened breads and flat breads, but when mixed with other flours it can be used in baked goods as well. Per ¼ cup it yields 2.4 g of protein and 2 g of fiber.
Teff Flour is made from teff grains and is high in protein, fiber, and nutrients. It works well in flatbreads as well as most baked goods when combined with other flours. It contains nine times more iron than wheat and five times more calcium and potassium than cereal grains. There are 4 g of fiber per ¼ cup.

Nut Gluten Free Flour 

Acorn Flour is heavy and works best as less than half of your flour mixture. It contains 17 g of fat (mostly good fats) and 4.2 g of protein per ¼ cup serving.
Almond Flour is made from blanched almonds and should be stored in the freezer. It can be used in quick bread and pastry recipes, not rising dough recipes. There are 6 g of protein and 3 g of dietary fiber per ¼ cup serving. It is also a good source of vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, and copper.
Almond Meal is ground from sweet almonds and has a consistency more like corn meal than wheat flour. It adds moisture and a nutty taste to baked goods and is good in pastries and cakes. Almond meal contains 28 g of fat (mostly good fats), 6 g of dietary fiber, and 12 g of protein per ¼ cup serving.
Cashew Flour is made from raw ground cashews. It is a good source of antioxidants and can substitute for other nut flours. A ¼ cup serving yields 2 g of dietary fiber and 10 g of protein.
Chestnut Flour is made from dried chestnuts. Its sweet flavor makes it an excellent choice for recipes which call for almonds, chocolate, honey, and/or hazelnuts. It can be used in baked foods and pasta and provides 1 g of protein per ¼ cup serving. *Note that it may cause an allergic reaction for people with tree nut allergies.
Hazelnut Meal is made from ground hazelnuts and has a rich, nutty flavor. It is used in specialty desserts. There are 17 g of fat (mostly good fats), 3 g of dietary fiber, and 4 g of protein per ¼ cup.
Macadamia Meal is made from ground macadamia nuts and has a smooth texture with a buttery flavor. It is equivalent to almond meal and contains all essential and non-essential amino acids. It is an excellent source of good fats as well as a variety of minerals and vitamins.
Pistachio Meal is made from pistachios and has a rich flavor. It has a shelf life of six months and should be kept frozen in storage and sifted before use. This flour is particularly good for desserts, as well as a good source of antioxidants, good fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein.

Seed Gluten Free Flour 

Amaranth Flour is made from the seeds of the amaranth plant. This flour has a nutty taste and works for up to 25% of the flour needed in a recipe. It can be used for pancakes, muffins, and as a thickener. In a ¼ cup serving there are 4 g of protein and 3 g of dietary fiber, as well as a high amount of the essential amino acid lysine.
Chia Seeds are highly nutritious and can serve as an egg replacement when mixed with water or for “firming up” the dough of it’s too wet. They contain more Omega-3s than flaxseed, more calcium than broccoli, and more fiber than beans, as well as being a concentrated source of protein.
Chia Seed Flour is made from ground chia seeds and can be used in baked goods and breads when combined with other flours, as well as a thickener. It has all of the health benefits of chia seeds.
Flaxseed Meal is made from flax seeds and has a mealy flavor and appearance due to high oil and fiber content. Be sure to put it in the freezer to prevent the oil going rancid. Use like chia seeds and as an additive to smoothies or shakes to increase fiber and protein levels. This meal contains high amounts of protein, soluble fiber, vitamins, essential minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and beta carotene (important antioxidant).
Mesquite Flour is ground from the seeds of the Mesquite tree. Its flavor is deep and rich, comparable to coffee and molasses, and rather strong and unpleasant when used alone. It can serve as a thickener in soups and gravy, as well as an addition to a flour blend. This flour is an excellent source of calcium and magnesium, and it is high in protein and dietary fiber.
Pumpkin Seed Flour is composed of ground raw pumpkin seeds. This dark flour has a very nutty flavor and exerts a calming effect when consumed. It can be substituted for almond flour, and it has a high amount of tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid.

Fruit and Vegetable Gluten Free Flour 

Coconut Flour is ground from dried coconut meat soaks up water in a recipe very quickly. It makes good cake flour, but is best combined with almond flour. Per ¼ cup serving, this flour yields 6 g of protein and 12 g of dietary fiber.
Corn Flour is made from corn and has a silky texture. It can be used to make pasta, tortillas, and tamales. If enriched, it yields 2.8 g of protein and 1.8 g of dietary fiber per ¼ cup serving.
Cornmeal is also made from corn, but unlike corn flour it has a rough texture. Cornbread, cornmeal mush, and polenta are made using this flour, and it can also be used to coat fish or chicken. There are 4 g of protein and 2.2 g of dietary fiber per ¼ cup serving.
Jerusalem Artichoke Flour is made from dehydrated Jerusalem artichokes to form a heavy flour that does not thicken by itself. It can be used for pasta and bread when combined with other flours. A ¼ cup serving yields 0.5 g of dietary fiber and 3.5 g of protein.
Malanga Flour is made from malanga, which is a root vegetable similar to a potato, and tastes similar to potato flour. It is often sold in Hispanic markets and can be used as a thickener, a substitute for wheat flour in quick breads, and as a coating for dried foods. This flour is high in carbohydrates and easy on people with food allergies. It is also easy on the digestive system.
Potato Flour is made from whole potatoes and should be refrigerated after opening. Due to its weight, only a little is needed at a time, and it can be used as a thickener and as a base in many recipes, such as potato soup. This flour is high in vitamins and contains 2.8 g of protein and 2.4 g of dietary fiber per ¼ cup serving.
Sweet Potato Flour (or Yam Flour) is made from white sweet potatoes and is stiff in texture and sweet in taste. It can be used in baked goods and as a thickener. Per ¼ cup serving there are 4 g of dietary fiber and 3 g of protein.

Bean Gluten Free Flour 

Chickpea Flour (aka Garbanzo Flour) is made from garbanzo beans and is very nutritious with a nice nutty taste. It is used in breads, cakes, and cookies when combined with other flours. There are 12 g of protein and 6 g of dietary fiber per ¼ cup serving.
Fava Bean Flour is made from ground fava beans, has a beany flavor, and is frequently blended with chickpea flour. This flour can be used in breads, pizza, cakes, and cookies. It yields 6 g of protein and 6 g of dietary fiber per ¼ cup serving. *Note that some people have life-threatening reactions to fava beans.
Soy Flour is made from crushed soybeans and is an inexpensive alternative flour. It can be used as a thickener and in baked goods when combined with other flours. There are 7.3 g of protein and 2 g of dietary fiber per ¼ cup. Also, this flour offers all of the amino acids your body needs as well as good fats.

Gluten Free Starches

Arrowroot Starch comes from arrowroot tubers and can serve as a thickener for acidic foods and as an addition to flour mixtures for baked goods. It thickens at a lower temperature than flour or cornstarch and does not mix well with dairy products.
Cornstarch is made from the inner tissue of the dried corn kernel and has a very finely ground silky texture. It has twice the thickening power of corn flour.
Kudzu Starch is made from Kudzu plant tubers (“vine that ate the South”). It is very expensive, though it has reputed medicinal benefits, and can substitute for arrowroot powder or cornstarch.
Potato Starch Flour is made from potato extract and adds bulk to baked goods. Do not use as a substitute for potato flour and do not let it boil. It can be used as a thickening agent.
Tapioca Starch is made from the cassava root. It contributes little nutritional value by itself, but when added to a low calorie soup or combined with fruit to thicken a jelly, the nutritional value of the entire dish can increase. It adds crisp texture to the crust of gluten free breads, as well as structure without grittiness to muffins and cookies.

Protein Content of Gluten-Free Grains.

Protein is an important nutrient for growth and good health. Enzymes, hormones, antibodies, collagen (used to build bone, muscle, teeth, healthy skin and joint tissue) are all made from proteins.

Hemoglobin is an important protein that transports oxygen from our lungs to our cells. Getting optimal good-quality protein in our diets is extremely important!

Its also extremely important for gluten free bread baking! Gluten is a protein and in order to mimic as close as possible to gluten using flours milled from high protein gluten free grains is key.

Protein Content of Gluten-Free Grains
(Ranked from highest to lowest protein content in 1 cup of raw grain)

  1. Amaranth - 28.1 grams
  2. Oats - 26.3 grams
  3. Teff - 25.7 grams
  4. Quinoa - 24 grams
  5. Wild Rice - 23.6 grams
  6. Buckwheat - 22.5 grams
  7. Millet - 22 grams
  8. Sorghum - 21.7 grams
  9. Brown Rice - 14.7 grams
  10. White Rice - 13.1 grams

Almond meal, although not a grain contains 24 grams of protein in 1 cup of raw meal.

Source: USDA ARS Nutrient Database

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Other Ingredients Used in Bread Baking.

To change the character of your bread, you can add other ingredients to the recipe's dough; one type is integrated into the structure and the other, after the dough structure has been formed. As a general rule, the less enrichments a dough has, such as added sugar, dairy and fat, typically, the longer the fermentation necessary because most of the flavor comes from the flour starches, which need time to release their natural sugars. Where enrichments are present, the flavor is derived from the enrichments rather than the flour, so a shorter fermentation time is preferable.
Some enrichments are "strengtheners or weakeners" or those that strengthen structure of the bread, such as whole eggs, milk and water or weaken or tenderize the dough, such as sugar, fat, egg yolks or acids (lemon juice). The other kind of enrichments, non-wheat flour and grains, and are added for interest and health to the recipe.

Fats and Oils Ingredients such as butter, margarine, shortening, nut, olive and vegetable oils are used to effect the level of moisture, the texture of the bread, to improve flavor and make bread tender. Fats and oils slow moisture loss, helping bread stay fresh longer and also help dough rise and increase volume. Adding fats and oils to dough makes the crumb more tender and the crust softer. Fat and oil are interchangeable; both produce the same effect on the crumb of the dough though the flavors vary greatly. Fat slows fermentation. Oily dough is heavier, which limits the stretch of the gluten and prevents large pockets of carbon dioxide from forming during fermentation. This is still relevant for gluten free bread, the binder (psyllium) is affected in the same way as gluten. The absence of large bubbles of gas results in the absence of large holes in the finished bread crumb. Bread with a tight crumb is preferred for recipes such as sandwiches.

Eggs help make the crust tender and add richness and protein. They provide color and flavor to breads. Some bread recipes call for them to be used as a wash for added color. Eggs added to dough help with rising because eggs are a leavening agent. As well, the fats from the yolk help to tenderize the crumb and lighten the texture. Eggs also contain the emulsifier lecithin which can add to the overall consistency of the loaf. Eggs, whole and yolks are added to the structure of the dough in the bread recipe and make it richer and add color. Egg whites however make a drier dough. Eggs are considered liquid ingredients so treat them as part of the liquid content and adjust the recipe accordingly.

Milk Replacing all or part of the water with milk will lend itself to a more tender, sweeter product. The sugar in milk, lactose, is not eaten by the yeast, so it is left to add a subtle sweetness to the finished bread. Milk also increases the nutritional value of the bread by adding additional proteins. A dough made with milk will brown more readily than one made with water. Milk helps to enrich the dough and the flavor of the bread. It produces a loaf with a creamy-colored, tender crumb and a golden crust.

The Many Roles Water Plays.

What is the purpose of water in bread making?
Water provides for gluten formation in flour, yeast fermentation and reproduction and gives the dough consistency. Water serves as a solvent and dispersing agent for salt, sugar, and yeast that are necessary for the fermentation. The next essential role is its function in emulsifying all these substances throughout the dough during kneading. Water is also needed for swelling and gelatinisation of the starch. This in its turn improves the easy digestion of the bread. The distribution of the heat through the bread during baking is done by water in the dough. And finally water influences the sensory properties of the bread.

The formation of the dough Without water, the formation of dough would be impossible.The two main components of flour are the starch and the protein. When water is mixed with flour, it will first hydrate the particles of starch and start the formation of the dough. Then protein will start to absorb some water and begin to form the gluten of the dough. The wetted starch is incorporated into the gluten by the mixing process and the result is the uniform, pliable, plastic substance called dough.
But since there is no gluten in the flours used for gluten free baking, this is where binders such as psyllium adopt the glutens role in dough and using high protein gluten free flours mixed with starches mimics the components of wheat flour. It is important to note that protein will absorb water slower compared to the starch. This is why it is essential for the baker to have a sufficient incorporation time. This will insure proper gluten formation and proper binding of the flour components.

The effect on dough fermentation
Water plays an important part in the fermentation of the dough mainly from two standpoints.
(a) Water makes possible the pliable and extensible properties of the dough so that in this form it can be raised by the carbon dioxide gas resulting from yeast activity.
(b) In order to enable the yeast enzymes to function, it is necessary that the required food substances supporting the yeast in the dough, first become dissolved in water of the dough so that in this form, they can diffuse through the wall or membrane surrounding the yeast cell and thus become available for direct utilization by the yeast throughout the entire panary fermentation process. The activity of the yeast itself also requires the presence of water. When this is incorporated into the dough batch in the mixer, the yeast cells are completely and uniformly distributed throughout the entire mass of dough.

The amount controls the dough consistency
Depending on the desired final dough consistency (most of the time in direct relation with the mixing time, fermentation time and final product characteristics) the amount of water could be adjusted in the formula.
A large amount of water will create dough with a soft consistency while a lower amount of water will generate dough with a stiffer consistency. Remember that slack doughs will ferment faster than stiff doughs.
Consistency is sometimes difficult to assess with a specific amount or consistent percentage of water, since flour characteristics can affect it in a tremendous way. A better way would be to describe it using the feeling of the dough. This notion of consistency is very important since it will also directly affect gluten and final product characteristics:
Softer dough will create a weaker gluten structure, more extensible and less elastic. This type of dough will benefit from long fermentation time and sometimes folds during the first fermentation. Generally speaking, the final product will have a more open and chewy crumb structure and a more pronounced flavor.
Stiffer dough will create a stronger gluten structure, less extensible and more elastic. In this case, shorter fermentation time will be more appropriate to avoid an excess of strength during the shaping. The final product will have a tighter cell structure and if no pre-fermentation is used a flavor a little bit more bland.

Water controls the temperature of the dough
Specific final dough temperature is crucial in order to obtain good fermentation activity. Because water is the easiest ingredient to change in temperature, the baker uses it to control final dough temperature. Water temperature will have a direct effect on the final dough temperature. Logically, a cold water will generate cooler dough temperature, while warmer water will create warmer dough temperature. Cooler water slows down the rise of the dough. Water needs to be used at the temperature of bathwater: a little higher than body temperature to activate the yeast, which in turn produces gas and stretches the dough.

The handling of the dough
The role of water is definitively very important during mixing. A dough with a good consistency will lead to good final products characteristics while a dough too stiff or too soft will probably require some adjustments during the baking process and potentially compromising final product quality. This is why the mixing of the dough requires a lot of attention. The feeling of the surface of the dough during dividing, preshaping and shaping is mostly due to different level of concentration of water.
Sticky dough will have a lot of water concentrated on its surface, making it more challenging to process.
Dry dough is the result of water evaporation on the surface of the dough, leading to poor final product characteristics (poor crust color, poor crumb characteristics…). The goal is to control these movements of water to keep the dough in good condition. For example, cover the dough with plastic if air is dry or if there are any drafts in the area.
On the other hand, if the dough feels sticky, due to an excess of air moisture, it will have to be kept uncovered with some air circulation around it.

Mineral content of water
The mineral content will determine the hardness and the softness of the water. The main ones being calcium, magnesium and sodium. Hard water contains a large amount of minerals while soft water contains a more limited amount of minerals.
Dough characteristics could be affected by the minerals content of the water: minerals will be used as nutrients by the yeast, therefore, a change in their concentration in the water will affect the fermentation. Indirectly, a change in the fermentation will affect the dough characteristics, making it stronger or weaker.
Hard water will provide a fast fermentation and dough with a tendency to have an excess of strength while a soft water will generate a slower fermentation and dough with a tendency of lacking in strength.
The minerals in water provide food for the yeast, and therefore can benefit fermentation. However, if the water is excessively hard, there will be a tightening effect on the gluten, as well as a decrease in the fermentation rate (the minerals make water absorption more difficult for the proteins in the flour). On the other hand, if water is excessively soft, the lack of minerals will result in a dough that is sticky and slack.
Generally speaking, most water is not extreme in either direction, and if water is potable, it is suitable for bread baking.

A perfect understanding of ingredients functionality is very important to control the baking process and produce final products with a very consistent quality.
Sometimes, we don’t realize that without water, this precious ingredient, it will be impossible to produce bread. But when adequately used, water can be a determinant factor in obtaining desired dough and final product characteristics.