Protein Content

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

Wheat flours are distinguished by how they are milled, the type of wheat, how it is grown, and the time of harvest. All of this affects the protein content, which in turn correlates to the amount of gluten in any given flour. Gluten helps create structure and determines texture in the final baked good. Flours with low protein contents produce crumbly tarts and tender, toothsome cakes, while higher protein results in hearty breads with a chewy crust. When the flour is moistened and then mixed or kneaded, the gluten is activated. The small air pockets that form are inflated by gases released by the leavening agent, which causes the dough to expand or rise. The more the dough is mixed or kneaded, the more the gluten develops. For this reason, batter cakes and cookie doughs are mixed only briefly, as overmixing causes the dough to toughen and dry out.