Flour Tougheners

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When baking or working with flour mixtures it is important to keep to ingredient aspects in mind:

  1. Flour Tenderizers
  2. Flour Tougheners

When it comes to baking or cooking you must determine what the final texture and consistency you are trying to achieve. For example, you must ask yourself the following question:

  • Do I want the finished good to be flaky, moist, buttery, chewy, dense, light and fluffy, tender?

You will need to factor in these aspects, the toughener as well as the tenderizer.  You must keep in mind when the ratio of one is decreased/increased the other must also be increased/decreased in the opposite direction. For example, if you desire to have a flaky product and increase the butter (Tenderizer) in your recipe you will need to then decrease the toughener aspect of the recipe. This way you can ensure ingredients do not combat each other and instead work jointly toward achieving your desired outcome. Once you are able to determine your desired texture, flavor and consistency; you can proceed with selecting the appropriate ingredients.

Don’t forget that the toughener/tenderizer ingredients aren’t the only ingredients/aspects of a recipe that affect the final baked good. Temperature of these ingredients also plays a major role in the final result. Cooking temperature and handling techniques also are important factors. Technically ANYTHING you do and add into a recipe will affect the final texture, size, taste, etc. So try your best to learn and understand how each ingredient and technique reacts to another.

  • What is a Flour Toughener?

Flour Tougheners are ingredients that help to make the dough/batter mixture stronger, harder and tougher.  Ingredients would include water, egg whites, milk, flour, salt, and whole eggs. Let’s review some of these key ingredients:

Liquid: When combined with flour it enhances gluten formation and starch gelatinization which causes a stronger structure therefore liquids function as a Flour Toughener. Some liquids can help make a product tender such as helping the fermentation stage of a leaven.

Leaving agents: Causes the baked good to rise resulting in a fluffy end result. Different leavens will affect the end result so it is important to know the difference between each. Leavens in dough primarily consist of yeast, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar. Other leavens include fat through incorporation of air (butter, buttermilk, plain yogurt, whole milk, heavy cream, sour cream), Liquids incorporated through steam, mechanical beating techniques, eggs (through incorporation of fat and air), etc. To learn more about Leavening Agents click here.

Flour: A toughener that primarily adds starch, protein and ultimately structure to a baked good.  As the flour mixture heats, the starch sets and supports the structure. To make the product tougher we need to ensure gluten formation in the flour and to make the product weaker we need to prevent gluten formation with the inclusion of fat/sugar. Read more on different types of flour here.

Eggs: Eggs are generally considered a flour toughener mainly because of similar affects it has to liquids (gluten formation and starch gelatinization) and also for adding structure to the baked good through its protein. But eggs can also serve as a tenderizer; egg whites alone function as a toughener whereas egg yolks function as a tenderizer which is primarily due to the high fat content found in the yolk.

Salt: Aside from adding flavor, salt works as a toughener with the flour by strengthening gluten formation. In bread mixtures, salt is normally an added ingredient for the purpose of balancing and controlling the bread to rise at a slower more desired pace.

Temperature: Both cooking temperature and ingredient temperature plays an important role in cooking and baking with flour.  It is important to understand the difference and affects each can have. To read more on cooking and ingredient temperature click here.

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