Cookie PH vs Gluten Formation question


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Hello,

I've successfully made chewy cookies by switching all purpose flour for bread flour. My aim is to understand the mechanics.

From what I've read, gluten is what makes a cookie chewy (Not just soft, but has more elasticity). Raising the PH with baking soda also increases the temperature where the cookie sets so the cookie sets later in the baking process.

But then Chinese alkaline noodles:

The article states that a more basic flour inhibits gluten development. In which case, why would a cookie become chewy after increasing the gluten content when baking soda inhibits gluten development. Alkaline noodles are also very chewy so they're elastic? If gluten is inhibited, what makes the noodles and therefore cookie more chewy.
 
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The sugar, not the gluten content of the flour is key to a chewy cookie.

Sugar is hygroscopic, meaning it attracts water from its environment. It’s competes for free water in the dough, plus pulls water from the environment.


As such it inhibits gluten development. But the gluten isn’t the only aspect of the structure of baked goods. Starch gelatinization is what determines how a baked goods actually sets. And sugar effects starch gelatinization since it changes the water in the dough.

The type of sugar also determines the cookie’s texture since brown sugar with the molasses is acidic and interacts with baking soda (alkaline) and graduated sugar is neutral. So brown sugar and invert sugars will produce a chewy cookie regardless of gluten content; granulated sugar will produce a crispy cookie.

The vast majority of bakers don‘t use high protein flour, and still achieve chewy cookies by manipulating the sugar.

I don’t know who you have been reading, but it sounds like they aren’t well versed in baking science.

I always us all purpose flour and create chewy cookies with sugar combinations
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Thanks for the info Norcalbaker59! Darn good looking cookies.

The main base of my knowledge comes from Alton Brown, specifically Good Eats season 3 episode 6 "Chips for Sister Marsha". I also cross referenced it with America's Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook, along with miscellaneous wikipedia articles and some blogs.

I'll admit that my understanding of how baking science works may stem from my inability to understand the source material well enough.

>> . And sugar effects starch gelatinization since it changes the water in the dough.

This is neat. Does increased molasses mixed with dough help the starch molecules hold onto more water?
What if I want to make it less sweet, but I want to keep the same texture? Do I use bakers molasses instead of the missing brown sugar?
Also, does gelatinized starch make a chewy cookie or does it just make it soft? I've made a very soft cookie before, but it didn't have the chew that I was looking for.

Assuming I can replace some brown sugar with molasses, do you have any tips on working with it? The only way I've found is to blend it together with the other ingredients in a blender since I don't have a food processor or a stand mixer. Otherwise, it sticks to itself and doesn't get incorporated into the batter.
 
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@ToastedPine

to answer your question about brown sugar first you need to understand there is no gluten flour. There’s two proteins and flour that are important: gliadin and glutenin.


When gliadin and glutenin bind with water molecules, they will develop opposite characteristics from each other.



Gliadin is about 30% of the protein in flour. Gliadin becomes sticky and stretchy. It provides the extensibility (ability to stretch) to the dough.



Glutenin it’s about 50% of the protein in flour. Glutenin is the opposite in that it’s functional properties are elasticity, meaning it pulls back into its original shape.



Gluten is a combination of gliadin, glutenin, and water molecules.



So gluten provides elasticity and extensibility. Both of these characteristics are about dough strength.



Dough strength is not the same as structure.



Protein is only a small percentage of flour, 8% - 15% depending on the type of flour. The vast majority is starch.



The starch molecule is made up of a couple types of atoms: amylose and amylopectin.



When heated and exposed to water molecules the atoms in the starch molecules break apart and the water molecules slip between the atom pieces.

The starch molecule as a whole begins to swell as more water molecules enter. Eventually the starch molecule will burst, and the amylose and amylopectin will leak out. This is what thickens whatever it is you’re making, whether it’s a cookie, a cake, or added flour to a sauce, or cornstarch to pastry cream. Starch gelatinization happens in all baking or cooking. End it happens with all starch regardless if it’s flour, cornstarch, potato starch, tapioca starch, etc.



In baking, gliadin, glutenin, and water molecules create gluten which provides dough strength.



Leavening causes the dough to rise/expand. That’s where your dough strength is important.



Then starch, water, and heat triggers starch gelatinization that thickens the risen dough and sets the baked good as it cools.



The function of sugar is to sweeten but it is also a tenderizer (weakens gluten) because it draws water away from flour. The more water available to gliadin and glutenin, the stronger the dough. The less water, the weaker the dough.



So now are you beginning to understand why it is the sugar and not the flour that determines the texture of the cookie?



Now there’s different types of sugars create different characteristics in baked goods.



I don’t have time to get into all the details on the sugars. But brown sugar contains molasses. If you’re going to use molasses make sure it is not blackstrap. Blackstrap molasses is from the third boil, so it is very bitter. Truly in the south it’s used for animal feed. My grandmother was a southerner that crap is not eaten in the south by humans. It’s pig feed. Buy a molasses like Grandma‘s Original brand.

Molasses is an invert sugar. Invert sugars are more hygroscopic than granulated sugar.

Other invert sugars are Lyle’s golden syrup which is my preferred invert sugar. It is a British product so a bit difficult to find in the US. Which is odd because the company was is purchased by an American sugar company which is headquartered in Florida. Go figure. Corn syrup is also an invert sugar.

You should limit the amount of invert sugar to no more than 15%. too much invert sugar will cause the cookie to crumble. remember sugar is a tenderizer (it weakens gluten). I’ll explain more about calculating percentages of an ingredient below.

To make your cookie less sweet, but to keep it chewy, use a mix of three sugars: granulated sugar, brown sugar, and invert sugar. But reduce the overall ratio of sugar to flour.

If you are not already doing so, bake by weight. baking by weight allows you to scale all your ingredients against the flour.

The average American style chocolate chip cookie contains 110% sugar to flour ratio. that means there’s 10% more sugar than flour by weight. Personally I find that way too sweet.

Depending on the type of chocolate you use you can drop the ratio as low as 95% to sugar to flour ratio.

When I talk about these ratios I am referring to Baker’s percentages.

Flour is always 100%. All other ingredients are weighed against the flour.



Example of baker’s percentages for a cookie.
  • Flour 100%
  • Sugars 110%
  • Butter 70%
  • Eggs 35%
  • Salt 2%
  • Baking soda 1.4%
  • Chocolate chips 125%



A standard batch of cookies is usually about 280 g of flour. Since everything is based on the weight of the flour you multiply everything by that weight: 280.
Sugar is 110% (same as 1.10).

280 x 1.10 = 308

Total sugar would be 308g.



If you want a less sweet cookie. So you experiment by recusing the total sugars. So try a batch at 98%

280 x .98 = 274.4.

Total sugar is 274g.

How you want to divide the sugars up is your choice.



You could do 15% of it invert sugar and divide the remainder equally between brown sugar and invert sugar.

274 x .15 = 41.



So 41 g would be invert sugar. That would leave 206 g. 103 g each of granulated sugar and brown sugar.

you may find that 15% is too much so the next batch you may decide to reduce the invert sugar to 10%.

280 x .10 = 28g. So 28g invert sugar and 126g each of the granulated sugar and brown sugar.

The important thing is baking by weight and baker’s percentages. That’s how you adjust your recipes.



And weigh your eggs. Never bake by number of eggs. You should always know the weight of the egg in your recipe even if it means taking out a little tiny quarter of a teaspoon to get the weight of your egg correct.






video that explain starch gelatinization in bread.





Video that explains starch gelatinization in general

 
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This is amazing! Thanks so much! I do have a scale and have been making adjustments by weight. I’ll try making a cookie this weekend :D

when you bake by weight you have total control over the recipe. It’s your choice how much sugar to flour. And how much of each type of sugar. If you want to add more granulated sugar and brown sugar for a crispier cookie you can change the ratio to whatever you like or vice versa.

it also allows you to scale the recipe up or down create whatever size that you need. And since you’re baking by weight and using Baker’s percentages the ratios are always the same because you divide everything into the weight of the flour. So if you decide you want to use 500 g of flour, or 1450g you still use the same ratios of other ingredients so the quality of the cookie never changes. This is how commercial bakeries keeps Their quality consistent batch after batch day after day year after year.
 
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btw way, the brand of ingredients will change the quality of your cookie as the brand vary in protein and ash content in flour, and in sugar, the source of the sugar. Examples:

King Arthur AP flour : unbleached, malted, 11.7% protein, ash unknown

Gold Medal AP flour: beached, malted, 10% - 10.5% protein, ash unknown

Pillsbury AP flour: beached, malted, 10% - 10.5% protein, ash unknown

Central Milling Artisan Baker’s Craft: unbeached, 11.5% protein, 65% ash

Central Milling Artisan Baker’s Craft Plus: unbeached, malted, 11.5% protein, 65% ash

Central Milling Beehive: unbeached, malted, 10.5% protein, 65% ash

Safeway O Organics: unbeached, malted, 10.5% protein, 65% ash (same flour as Central Milling’s Beehive)

Whole Foods 365 Organic: unbeached, malted, 10.5% protein, 65% ash (same flour as Central Milling’s Beehive)

======================================================

Sugar that is not specifically labelled cane sugar is sugar beet sugar. Sugar beet sugar is inferior in that it will not caramelize. In fact the molasses from sugar beet sugar is so inferior it is only used for animal feed and industrial purposes, never for human consumption. To make brown beet sugar, they have to use cane sugar molasses.

Caramelization (Maillard reaction) of the sugars is what produces the flavor in baked goods, grilled and sautéed foods. So for flavor in baked goods, cane sugar is the sugar of choice.

Not all brands of cane sugar are equal. I prefer C&H and Domino, especially for brown sugars. When you compare the grains and uniformity to other brands you will see why.
 
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O_O it never even occurred to me I need to pay attention to the refinement percentage of flour. Saving this in notes.

Turns out I was using baker's percentages already by accident since I always thought of flour as the main ingredient. I compared other recipe ratios to my base one to figure out what's going on. I wish all baking recipes came with bar graphs so you get a general idea just by staring at the page.

Can't wait to try these out. Such a bummer that I have to wait for the dough to rest a day before I get the results.
 
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O_O it never even occurred to me I need to pay attention to the refinement percentage of flour. Saving this in notes.

Turns out I was using baker's percentages already by accident since I always thought of flour as the main ingredient. I compared other recipe ratios to my base one to figure out what's going on. I wish all baking recipes came with bar graphs so you get a general idea just by staring at the page.

Can't wait to try these out. Such a bummer that I have to wait for the dough to rest a day before I get the results.

I forgot to make the edit on all the Beehive flours, the ash content is 56%, not 65%.

Knowing the protein and whether it is bleached and malted is important.

The protein levels determine how much gluten will develop.

Bleaching changes the protein structure, so the performance of the flour changes. Bleached flour will rise higher, bake lighter in color, and is weaker than unbleached flour. It also absorbs less water than unbleached flour. I use bleach flour for more delicate pastries, pie crusts, some rolls. most cakes, and cookies like shortbread.

Unbleached flour will absorb more water than bleached flour. It will not rise as high as bleached flour. I use unbleached flour for cookies like chocolate chip, peanut butter, biscotti, and anything with nuts. It is also my go to flour for most rolls and all breads.

Ash refers to the mineral in the wheat flour. They measure the mineral content after taking a sample of wheat flour, weighting it, then burning the sample; the ash that is left is the minerals in the wheat flour. That ash is then weighed. The weight is then divided into the original weight of the sample to calculate the ash percentage. Hence the name “Ash”. The ash content is important as the higher the ash, indicates a higher content of germ, bran, and outer endosperm. When wheat is milled into flour, it is sifted to remove the bran, germ, and outer endosperm. The inner endosperm is pure starch. The separate parts are all milled, then depending on the type of flour that is going to me made, a percentage of bran, germ, and outer endosperm is added back into the milled inner endosperm flour. The amount of bran, germ, and outer endosperm in the flour is called the extraction rate. 100% extraction means 100% of the wheat kernel was used to mill the flour. So whole wheat is 100%. All purpose only uses about 73% of the kernel, so it is a 73% flour. Cake flour uses about 45% of the kernel, so it is 45% extraction flour.

But as you can see from the different brands, the AP flours vary greatly in protein. The protein is an indicator of the ash. So even if you have an AP flour, you want to know the protein and ash because that gives you some clues as to the levels of bran, germ, and outer endosperm. If you want a more rustic whole wheat like product, go for an AP flour with a higher ash. For a more refined product, lower the ash.

And when you make those adjustments, you need to think about increasing/decreasing the liquid up or down a tad bit to account for variation in absorption rates.

The cookie I made in the photo I was the Central Milling Artisan Baker’s Craft. I can’t remember, but I think I increased the butter some, dropped the sugar. And I used a combination of the three sugars, but more brown and granulated. I used Callebaut block chocolate that I chopped.
 
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I almost forgot. I bake on parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 for 25 min before baking.

If you haven’t read Stella Parks article on creaming butter, please do. Everything they say about room temperature butter is wrong. 65°F is the correct temperature for creaming butter. Stella says 60°. Personally I cream butter straight out of the refrigerator but I also know what I am looking for when creaming butter. I’ve written a lot on this site about the proper way cream butter. But just read Stella’s article cuz she is going to say pretty much the same things.


 
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Thanks for the extra info! I’ll go over this in more detail. I did make a batch of cookies this weekend based on the 15% measurements.
image.jpg

It was still chewy I used fully Demerara brown sugar and 15% of that was bakers molasses. The whole sugar content was cut to 95% bakers percentage.

Still too sweet though. I think I need to add some liquid too since it seems dry as per your suggestion in the last post.

I haven't read Stella Parks, but I will now! The ingredients seem so simple, but the more I try things, the deeper it gets.
 
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Thanks for the extra info! I’ll go over this in more detail. I did make a batch of cookies this weekend based on the 15% measurements. View attachment 3348
It was still chewy I used fully Demerara brown sugar and 15% of that was bakers molasses. The whole sugar content was cut to 95% bakers percentage.

Still too sweet though. I think I need to add some liquid too since it seems dry as per your suggestion in the last post.

I haven't read Stella Parks, but I will now! The ingredients seem so simple, but the more I try things, the deeper it gets.

You got really good color in the cookie. Demerara sugar is not brown sugar. It is a partially refined sugar. Brown sugar is refined sugar with molasses added back in afterward. So Demerara is much drier than brown sugar.

Try this. The sugar is still 95%, but a difference combination. It also has semi sweet chocolate instead of milk chocolate, so not as sweet. Also less chocolate.



210g unsalted butter 65°F (use a high fat butter like Pluga) See Stella Parks‘ article on proper way to cream butter
112g granulated cane sugar
112g light brown cane sugar
6g kosher salt
4g baking soda

42g invert sugar (light corn syrup, golden syrup, OR plain molasses, not blackstrap)
100g whole eggs

280g unbleached flour approx 11.5% protein (example King Arthur flour brand)
310g semi sweet chocolate chips (try Guittard or Ghirardelli)

Paddle attachment on stand mixer

Cut butter into large cubes. Place butter, granulated and light brown cane sugars in bowl of mixer. Beat on medium low (4 on KitchenAid) for 2 minutes. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Continue beating on medium high (6 on KitchenAid) for 2.5 minutes.

Scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Add invert sugar and beat 20 seconds. Add half of egg, beat until incorporated. Scrape bowl. Add remainder of egg, beat until incorporated.

Add flour and mix until just barely incorporated. Add chocolate and mix until just distributed.

Transfer to a clean bowl. Cover and chill minimum 1 hr up to overnight.

Bake

For a bakery size cookie, portion dough into 70g ball. For a homemade size cookie, portion dough into 45g dough ball. Place dough ball in freezer for 20 min before baking.

Preheat oven 350°F for at least 25 minutes Set up cooling rack by placing coffee mugs on four corners to elevate. You want air to circulate under a cooling rack.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place frozen dough balls on tray; allow space for spreading. the 70g dough ball will make a 4” cookie; the 45g dough ball will make a 3” cookie.

Bake in the center of the oven, rotating mid way through baking. 70g bake approximately 16 min total; 45g bakes approximately 12 min total. Bake time will vary depending on your oven.

Cool on baking sheet 1 min, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.


I prefer light brown sugar to dark brown sugar.
 
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Thanks for this recipe! I will try this weekend since I don't have all the ingredients.
I should have done my reading on Demerara first instead of picking it for seeming damper and darker in colour.
Why is there a mix of granulated and brown sugar? Is it so there's not as much molasses for the cookie to get tender?
I've tried 100% brown sugar cookies before, and it didn't seem too tender to me.

For the 100g of eggs, am I right in assuming I can take away white to get the weight? Or do I beat the eggs together first and then weigh?

Finished reading the Stella Parks article on creaming. It seems almost like common sense that many small air bubbles creates an insulation effect, which creates a more even cookie. That would have taken forever to figure out. I almost want to use blue food coloring now as an indicator to see if I've creamed just right... but then I'd get blue cookies. Gross.
 

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