Baker’s Techniques #1 : What is Gluten and Window Pane Test?

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Window pane test is a baker’s technique to check gluten formation in the bread dough. But first, WHAT IS GLUTEN? Read on..

The two primary proteins in wheat that are responsible for the formation of the dough—

  1. Glutenin (protein that affects the elasticity of the dough)
  2. Gliadin (protein that affects the extensibility of the dough)

Gluten when comes in contact with moisture, aligns itself with it to form long chains (Web like) which, when agitated give the dough enough elasticity for it to be stretched. This lends the baked product a chewy texture.

When heated, gluten proteins form an elastic network that stretches and traps gas, allowing for optimal leavening/rising and maintains the moisture in breads. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together.

A longer mix will generate a well-developed gluten structure, while a shorter mix will generate an underdeveloped one. You must prevent mixing for too long, as that might stretch the gluten chains and can break, which is called overmixing the dough.

Because of these unique properties, gluten is also frequently used as an additive to improve texture and promote moisture retention in breads.

Bread flour is high in gluten as compared to All-purpose flour and hence most often used in bread baking.

How do you do the WINDOW PANE TEST?

  1. When kneading the bread to check for gluten formation and to know if the dough is kneaded enough, do the window pane test.
  2. Take a small bit of the dough and stretch it lightly. You should be able to see a thin translucent layer.
  3. If you can stretch the dough without it breaking, this means that the gluten is well developed and the dough is ready to rise. Pat the ball back into the rest of the dough and you should be good to go!
  4. If the dough tears before its fully stretched, then the gluten isn’t quite ready yet. Knead the dough for another 2 mins and try the window pane test again.

This technique will help you know when the dough is ready and you can stop kneading. Leave the dough to rise then.

Happy Baking!

Try out my bread recipes –

  1. Hokkaido Milk Bread
  2. Cream Cheese and Basil Babka
  3. Honey Whole Wheat Bread

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