Ever Wondered What Makes Bread Rise?
Hint: It also occurs in winemaking.
By Heath Goldman for Food Network Kitchen
Baking is a scientific exercise, especially when it comes to baking bread.
You may be familiar with baking powder, which chemically leavens cookies and cakes. But bread recipes don’t usually call for these leaveners because bread rises through another process all together: fermentation.
If your head just immediately went to kombucha, beer and kimchi, you’re not far off. Fermentation occurs in all of these food products and bread — it’s a chemical process by which molecules like glucose are broken down in the absence of oxygen.
But what does all of this science mean for bread, specifically? Everything starts with yeast, which is actually a living organism. Yep, every single variety is living, from active dry yeast to instant yeast to fresh yeast. When you add yeast to water and flour to create dough, it eats up the sugars in the flour and excretes carbon dioxide gas and ethanol — this process is called fermentation. The gluten in the dough traps the carbon dioxide gas, preventing it from escaping. The only place for it to go is up, and so the bread rises.
Carbon dioxide actually also helps gluten develop in bread. Unless you’re gluten-intolerant, gluten is a great thing, folks. Essentially, it creates the structure of the whole bread. When you mix together flour and water, proteins in the flour attach to water and create a gluten network. You can strengthen that network by kneading dough, which jostles around water and protein and allows more of them to find each other and connect. As carbon dioxide bubbles form and rise up, they also jostle around water and protein to create a stronger gluten network. No-knead breads rely on carbon dioxide to create their gluten structure.
Now, a bit about the ethanol that’s also excreted. Ethanol, a type of alcohol, is released in equal parts to carbon dioxide. Though ethanol is indeed the type of alcohol that’s often distilled into liquor, it doesn’t pack a punch in breadmaking. Instead, it actually contributes to bread’s complex bread-like flavor and aids in rising. When the bread starts baking, ethanol evaporates and causes more rise. When it turns into gas — poof — it’s no longer alcoholic.
And there you have it, a concise explanation of fermentation, which makes bread rise. Now is anyone else feeling inspired to roll up their sleeves and start kneading?
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PARKER HOUSE ROLLS, Dave Lieberman, Good Deal with Dave Lieberman/Daveâs Home Bakery, Food Network, Sugar, Active Dry Yeast, All-purpose Flour, Salt, Eggs, Butter, Salt,PARKER HOUSE ROLLS, Dave Lieberman, Good Deal with Dave Lieberman/Dave’s Home Bakery, Food Network, Sugar, Active Dry Yeast, All-purpose Flour, Salt, Eggs, Butter, Salt
Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.
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