Gluten Relaxation

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Another important characteristic of wheat flour doughs is that their elasticity relaxes with time. An elastic dough that never relaxed could never be formed into the many shapes of raised doughs and pastas! In a well developed dough, the protein molecules have been organized and aligned, and have formed many weak bonds with each other. Because there are so many of them, these bonds hold the proteins firmly in place and resist stretching, so a ball of dough is firm and taut. But because the bonds are weak, the physical tension of the taut ball shape slowly breaks some of them, and the dough structure gradually relaxes into a flatter, more malleable mass.