The Roman quip “bread and circuses” says everything about the ubiquity of loaves through the ages. But although flour, yeast, and water are still the ingredients today, bread processing equipment takes this basic formula to new avenues. From sprouted wheat challah to beetroot ciabatta and protein rolls, breadmaking has changed considerably since the time of the Roman empire.
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Use flour with 11% minimum protein composition
Fluffy pan loaves and crusty sourdoughs have contrasting textures, but they are essentially a flurry of gas bubbles inside a mass of protein. Form this dough by hydrating strong wheat flour (11% or more protein content) with water in a food-grade mixer to produce gluten.
The gluten gives the dough extendibility to grow and elasticity to keep intact. Mix the flour and water at high speeds for approximately 15 minutes. The dough’s temperature is between 25°C and 28°C.
Add brewer’s yeast to ferment the flour mix
Yeast is a vital ingredient in breadmaking, providing lift and lightness and giving the bread a doughy flavor. The Saccharomyces cerevisiae species is especially suited for modern bread processing because it is food-grade and relatively low-cost.
The yeast breaks down the carbohydrates in the flour and releases carbon dioxide, which remains trapped in the dough and expands it. Bread processing involves two stages of proving: the first one is after the dough is divided and then after it is molded.
Supplementary enzymes and oxidizing agents alter the protein complex
There are several methods for bread processing, but the Chorleywood technique developed in the latter half of the 20th century emerged as the manufacturing standard. The method modifies the protein structure of the flour using a closed high-speed mixer.
Meanwhile, adding oxidizing agents such as ascorbic acid to the mix shortens the fermentation process. Additional enzymes activate the yeast to enhance the rising of the dough.
Raise the baking temperature to 74°C to inactivate thermophilic yeasts
In the oven, the dough continues to expand while losing weight. A moderate heat transforms carbon dioxide in solution into a gas, occupying the microscopic cells. But as ethanol caused by fermentation evaporates, the mass becomes lighter.
The crumbs, however, need a higher temperature (around 60°C) to start stabilizing into a paste. The last yeast cells are killed when the heat reaches 74°C, but the loaf is not fully cooked until the crust forms at 160°C. The browning occurs as sugars contained in the flour caramelize.
Gluten-free formulas are worked with standard bread processing equipment
Gluten-free flours such as buckwheat or almond flour cannot replicate the level of viscosity that wheat flours do. This reduces the flexibility and extendibility of the dough. But these properties can be supported by functional ingredients in the mix.
Added protein provides the structure for the dough to form the network. Meanwhile, hydrocolloids such as HPMC perform a gelatinization function to ease expandability. You don’t require separate bread processing equipment to make gluten-free products.