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 Your one-stop source for Bread Baking Information and Great Recipes!

1. What is gluten?

Gluten is the name of the insoluble protein in wheat.  All breads made with wheat flour will have an amount of gluten in them already.  Each brand of flour has a different amount of gluten in it, varying depending on the hardness of the wheat used to make the flour.  

2. Bread (wheat) has gluten in it already...why does a recipe require more to be added?

Again, each brand of flour has a different amount of gluten naturally occuring in it.  If you use a flour which contains less gluten, your bread may not rise as high, as it may not be able to hold as many gas bubbles.  Recipes are developed by many people using very different ingredients.  If the developer used a flour containing less gluten, they may have added some to change the texture of their bread.

3. Just what does the gluten do? Is it the gluten or yeast (or both)  that makes the bread rise?

Gluten is the substance that makes bread dough elastic.  The elasticity determines how many of the gas bubbles formed by the yeast (or other leavening agent) are held within.  The more bubbles the dough can hold, the higher it will rise.  Both the gluten and the yeast work together to make the dough rise.  The absence of one or the other will change the consistency of the bread.

4. If I don't add the called for gluten to the recipe, what will happen?

If you omit the gluten from a recipe, your bread may turn out very dense or flat.  However, the necessity of adding it to the recipe, would depend on your flour.  If you use flour made from a hard wheat, such as bread flour (read the ingredient list on your flour to determine what wheat is used), you may not need to add as much gluten or any at all.  If you are skeptical of adding it directly to a recipe, try the recipe without it.  You may like the results, or you may wish to try it both with and without before you decide how you wish to make your recipe.

5. How much Gluten is normally used in a basic bread recipe?

A rough guideline for adding gluten to a recipe is to add 1 teaspoon of vital gluten per cup of whole grain flour in your recipes. Some brands of gluten will recommend to use 1 tablespoon per cup of whole grain flour. This should produce a taller loaf. If you find the loaves are still shorter than you would like, increase the amount by adding an extra teaspoon until you get the results you desire (be sure to note the amounts on the recipe).  Make sure you remember that each brand of flour will have a different amount of gluten naturally present, so you also may want to note which type/brand or flour you used when you experimented with adding gluten.