Baking Tips and Commonly Asked Questions

Q5. What is Gluten?

The term ‘Gluten’ has been taken from the Latin language which means Glue. It is a protein found in the endosperm part of the cereals including wheat. This protein comprises of 75-85% of protein in the wheat.

Gluten has a viscoelastic and adhesive properties, which gives the kneaded dough its elasticity and chewy texture. It also helps the kneaded dough to rise in volume and maintain its shape.

You more you knead the dough, the more gluten is formed. And the more gluten is formed, the dough and the resulting bread becomes harder. That’s why, we should not over-knead the dough after the desired quantity of gluten has been formed.

The gluten in the dough creates a spider web like structure which traps and seals and air bubbles. This hardened web like structure is the reason why gluten gives hard shape to the breads which remain as it is.

Q6. Why Whole Wheat flour has less gluten than All Purpose flour (Maida) although maida comes from wheat?

Wheat grain in whole contains gluten but when it is crushed to form the flour, the barn and germ part of the wheat slash through the endosperm thus destroying the gluten. When maida is made, only endosperm is milled therefore, the quantity of gluten is more.PAGE BREAK

Q7. Why do we add flour and eggs to butter-sugar mixture alternatively?

While making butter/tea cakes, we first cream butter and sugar and then add flour and eggs to it alternatively. We should start with the flour and end with the flour. This is done to prevent the gluten formation in the flour.

As soon as water is added to the flour, the gluten starts developing. The more we knead or mix liquid and flour, the stronger the gluten takes shape. To prevent this from happening, we add oil/fat to the flour. Therefore, we first add flour to the butter-sugar mixture and mix it and then add the egg mixture and alternatively keep adding flour and egg.

Q8. What is the difference between fat and oils and can we use them in baking interchangeably?

Fats are solid and oils are liquid. We cannot use them interchangeably. Depending upon the flavor that you are aiming for, you need to choose between fats and oils in your recipe.

Fats like butter are full of flavor. Butter is most commonly used fat in baking cakes simply because of its flavor. Make sure you use unsalted butter until the recipe specifically asks for salted butter. However, solid fat like ghee should never be used for baking cakes as it does not provide required flavor and texture to the cakes.

Shortening agents like vegetable oils are used in baking to make tender cakes. When you are using oil in baking, make sure you measure the quantity accurately. Large amount of oil in cake will overpower the taste of the cake and the texture will be ruined.

Fats and oils cannot be used interchangeably but you can replace fat with another fat, for example, you can replace salted butter with unsalted butter and vice-versa or replace butter with lard. Similarly, you can replace vegetable oil with canola oil or any other mild-flavored oil. But try not to use olive oil in baking cakes as it has a strong flavor of its own.PAGE BREAK

Q9. How Corn Flour and Corn Starch are used in baking?

Uses of Corn Starch:

  1. As an anti-caking agent – It is mixed with powdered sugar to make icing sugar.
  2. As a thickening agent – It can be mixed with cold water and then added to curries and sauces for thickening. It is esp. useful for thickening of dairy products recipes like milk for ice-creams.
  3. To make cake flour – It is used to make cake flour. Just add two tbsp of corn flour to a cup of all-purpose flour to make your cake flour.

Uses of Corn Flour:

  1. As a thickening agent – It is used as a thickening agent when corn starch is not available. It should be first mixed in warm water and then added to the soups, pastes, and sauces, etc.
  2. Batter binder – It is used in making batter for crispy tempuras and other deep-fried snacks. 
  3. In cakes, puddings, and pies – It is used in making custard cakes, cookies, and pies.