What is gluten and how does it look like?  This short video features an experiment to let us take a glimpse of what gluten is.  Watch this interesting video


Here’s a transcript of the video to make it easier to follow:

we use wheat flour and countless recipes from chewy loaves of rustic bread and
pizza dough to tender cakes and some muffins
all these baked goods rely on something called gluten
how does this work
first let’s start with a simple question
what is gluten
all wheat flours contain two important proteins glutenin and gliadin
now in the presence of water
these two small proteins change shape and bond together
this creates an elastic network of proteins called gluten which has the ability to trap air much like a balloon
this gluten network fills with swollen starch granules and gas bubbles allowing breads to rise and
cakes to gain some gentle structure
now here in the Test Kitchen we’ve long known that gluten is important in baking but mainly we’ve done a lot of talking not a lot of showing
so what is it on a tangible level
can you see it
can you feel gluten
I’m in a simple experiment to find out just that
I made two basic dough’s by mixing flour and water in a food processor until a smooth ball formed
and for one dough I use cake flour which contains the least amount of protein
of all the different types of flour that you can find at the grocery store between six and eight percent
usually in addition
cake flour is often bleached which further weakens the proteins and for the other one I use
bread flour which contains the most amount of protein usually running about twelve to fourteen percent and is
generally not bleached so you can see
here I have two balls of dough each containing a different amount of gluten
you can’t actually see that because surrounding that gluten is a whole lot of starch
the next step believe it or not I washed the starch away
I placed each dough in a mesh strainer and massage them under running water to wash away all the starch
once the water ran clear a sign that the starch was gone I was left with two piles of essentially pure gluten
as you can see the difference is in appearance and texture of the two are dramatic
the low protein cake flour formed a very small amount of really wheat gluten
you can pull it right apart
on the other hand high-protein bread flour formed a large ball of highly resilient rubbery gluten and can be stretched very thin without tearing
to show just how elastic this bread flour gluten ball is I’m going to try and do something a little bit crazy
I’m going to treat it like a balloon and inflated with is the air
so what have we learn from this experiment
well we use high-protein bread flour for breads because it develops a lot of very flexible gluten
which as we’ve seen acts like a balloon trapping air and creating higher rising loaves
now for cakes we want just enough gluten to provide a bit of structure without turning them to huff
we turn to cake flour for its lower protein content and reduce gluten potential
all-purpose flour as its name suggests is good for a lot of foods that fall in between
these extremes such as pie dough harder your muffins and cookies
so next time you’re kneading pizza dough gently folding a cake batter or considering swapping one type of flour
for another
we hope you remember this experiment this is one case we’re seeing really is believing

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