AACC (1995) Approved Methods of the American Association of Cereal Chemists, 9th edn, March, St Paul, Minnesota, USA: Method 76-30A, Digestion by alpha-amylase under specified conditions.

DONELSON, J.R. and YAMAZAKI, W.T. (1968) Enzymatic determination of starch in wheat fractions. Cereal Chemistry, 45, 177-182.

FARRAND,E.A. (1964) Flour properties in relation to the modern bread processes in the United Kingdom, with special reference to alpha-amylase and starch damage. Cereal Chemistry, 41, March, 98-111.

GIBSON, T.S., AL QALLA, H. and MCCLEARY, B.V. (1992) An improved enzymic method for the measurement of starch damage in wheat flour. Journal of Cereal Science, 15, 15-27.

STAUFFER, C.E. (1998) Principles of dough formation, in Technology of Breadmaking (eds S.P. Cauvain and L.S. Young), Blackie Academic & Professional, London, UK, pp. 262-295.

2.7 We find that we often have to adjust the water level we add to our flours in order to achieve a standard dough consistency. What are the factors that cause the water absorption capacity of flour to vary?

The water absorption capacity of a flour depends on a number of different flour properties, including the following:

• The flour moisture content - the lower the moisture content, the higher the water absorption.

• The flour protein content - the higher the protein content, the higher the water absorption.

• The level of added dry gluten in the flour - dry gluten absorbs about 1.5 times its own weight of water so that if it has been used to supplement the protein level in the flour the water absorption may be somewhat higher than expected from indigenous protein levels.

• The flour damaged starch level - the higher the level of damaged starch, the higher the water absorption (see 2.6).

• The flour pentosan level - the higher the pentosan level, the higher the water absorption.

• The bran content - the higher the bran content, the higher the water absorption. This is one reason why more water must be added to wholemeal flours than to white flours.

In addition the level of enzymic activity in the flour may affect the apparent flour water absorption because of softening that may occur, especially during any periods that the dough stands in bulk.

A number of workers have studied the factors that may affect flour water absorption (Farrand, 1964) and several have derived equations to predict water absorption from measured flour properties (e.g. Cauvain et al., 1985).

Other reasons why the added water level may vary include the following:

• Variations in partial vacuum levels in the Chorleywood Bread Process (CBP); lower mixer headspace pressures result in doughs that are 'drier' to the touch.

• Variations in dough final temperature since the viscosity of dough increases when the temperature goes down.

Continue reading here: Why is flour particle size important in cakemaking

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