Scientists find ‘shocking’ new way to bake gluten-free bread in minutes

24 Oct 2019674 Views

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Rather than wasting time and energy baking gluten-free bread from the outside, researchers have found it easier to shock it from the inside.

A new baking process you’re unlikely to see on the Great British Bake Off could soon change how we create the perfect gluten-free bread. Writing in Food and Bioprocess Technology, researchers from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna – also known as BOKU – described how they can create tasty gluten-free bread in minutes by shocking it from the inside using an electrical current.

In doing so, the researchers said that this method saves both time and energy compared with conventional baking. The breakthrough is developed from an existing technology called ‘ohmic heating’ which they reported as producing a superior quality of gluten-free bread.

“The heat is generated instantaneously in the complete dough,” explained Prof Henry Jäger, who led the researchers.

“This is the main advantage of the ohmic heating technology. Conventional baking in the oven requires more time since the heat needs to penetrate from the outside towards the centre of the dough.”

The principle is well known from the familiar light bulb, where an electrical current passing through a wire and heats it up until it glows. This is due to its electrical resistance and the ohmic law leading to the dissipation of electrical energy into heat.

Gluten-free dough placed between two electrodes in a baking chamber.

Ohmic heating of a piece of dough between two electrodes in an Ohmic baking chamber. Image: BOKU/Bender

Rising to the occasion

The same effect is seen when the metal wires are replaced with bread dough. But, instead of glowing, the dough heats up, which starts the baking process.

To replace the glutenous wheat protein in traditional bread, starch is used. However, significantly more water is needed in the dough which results in a lower viscosity and makes it thinner.

The researchers realised that the rapid and uniform heating of the whole dough is one of the major advantages obtained from ohmic heating with a benefit for the production of gluten-free bread. Results in testing showed that the volume of the bread was between 10pc and 30pc higher than when baked conventionally and had a softer, more elastic crumb with more evenly distributed pores.

The researchers said that while this shorter baking time might have a negative impact on starch digestibility, testing did not show any negative effects. Also, while the shocked bread doesn’t form a crust, this can be added afterwards using infrared heating.

“An initial baking step at 2 to 6kW for 15 seconds followed by 1kW for 10 seconds and a final baking at 0.3kW for five minutes is the recipe for the successful production of gluten-free bread using ohmic heating,” Jäger said.

Colm Gorey is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

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