|From How Bread Works
Bread is a bio-chemical technology for turning wheat flour into something tasty!
If you pick up a slice of bread and examine it closely, you can see that it is full of air holes. This makes it spongy and soft. You will also see that bread is moist. If you let a slice of bread sit out on the counter for a day you will realize just how moist fresh bread is!
Bakers use two simple facts of life to create soft, spongy, moist bread:
First, they use the fact that yeast (a single-cell fungus) will eat sugar, and from the sugar create alcohol and carbon dioxide gas as waste products. The carbon dioxide gas created by yeast is what gives bread its airy texture (and the alcohol, which burns off during baking, leaves behind an important component of breads flavor).
Second, wheat flour, if mixed with water and kneaded, becomes very elastic. The flour and water mixture in bread becomes stretchy like a balloon is stretchy because of a protein in wheat known as gluten. Gluten gives bread dough the ability to capture the carbon dioxide produced by yeast in tiny flour balloons.
|Rensselaer Magazine: June 2002|
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