Ingredients Flour

The principal structure-forming ingredient used in biscuit doughs is wheat flour. Very few cookies or crackers are made without any wheat flour, and those are usually quite atypical in organoleptic characteristics. To provide for flour strength in weaker flours, vital wheat gluten can replace wheat flour to a limited extent.

There are many different kinds of wheat flour, and the specifications of this ingredient must be carefully chosen, if it is to impart satisfactory machining properties to the dough and have a desirable appearance with good eating qualities. Cracker doughs typically use soft wheat flour fortified with relatively high protein content flour made from hard red winter wheat or spring wheat. Some cracker doughs and most cookies will be based on soft wheat flour, sometimes with a small proportion of flour from hard wheat.

Soft wheat flours suitable for biscuits may vary in protein content (mostly gluten) from 7.0 to 9.5% (for cookies) to 10% or more (for crackers). The flour may be unbleached or heavily bleached to a pH range of 4.4 to 4.8 for certain specialty items, such as soft cookies that contain higher levels of sugar and shortening. Cookies using bleached flour will rise higher with little spread; in contrast, unbleached flour will typically spread more than it rises.

Cracker sponge flours may contain added malt (wheat or barley). Malt flours are made by wetting whole grains and allowing the enzymes to become active. The malted grains are then dried at low heating temperatures to remove moisture but not deactivate the enzymes. Such malted flour is then added to the cracker sponge for its enzymatic properties (1).

Ingredient specifications for cookie flour will usually include protein content, moisture content, ash content, particle size, starch damage, pH, odor, and flavor. Microbiological tests will be required to reveal contamination by insects, fungi, pesticides, and other unwanted materials. It is also common to specify certain rheological tests (eg, Alveograph), which are expected to correlate with dough response to processing conditions. Finally, the flour must yield cookies of specified characteristics (spread/height), when it is used in dough that is prepared and baked under standardized conditions. One relevant test that gives an indication of flour function is the bake-spread test. Written procedures for this test can be found in AACC Method 10-53 (2). The diameter and height of the finished test cookie are measured. Analyzing the results indicates the amount of rise or spread performance of a flour. Sometimes this measurement is expressed as a ratio of the height to diameter, but that approach does not fully characterize flour performance. It is better to analyze and compare both results for trends.

Flours other than wheat can be used in crackers and cookies for color, texture, and flavor. Prime examples of these ingredients would be rye and corn flour. Sorghum flour, cottonseed meal, soybean meal, triticale flour, barley flour, and other cereal and noncereal powders have been suggested as additives for enhancing nutritional or other properties. These nonwheat ingredients have structure-forming properties that do not function as well as typical wheat varieties and must be supplemented with a strong wheat flour or vital wheat gluten for most purposes. Rice flour has been used to make cookies suitable for persons who are allergic to wheat gluten; it is incapable of forming typical dough. Rice flour has been used successfully for the production of rice crackers, but the process and procedures are very different from standard baking practices. A modified form of wheat flour starch, called resistant starch, passes easily through the digestive system, thus reducing its caloric contribution to the body.

Why Gluten Free

Why Gluten Free

What Is The Gluten Free Diet And What You Need To Know Before You Try It. You may have heard the term gluten free, and you may even have a general idea as to what it means to eat a gluten free diet. Most people believe this type of diet is a curse for those who simply cannot tolerate the protein known as gluten, as they will never be able to eat any food that contains wheat, rye, barley, malts, or triticale.

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