The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Gluten Development - An observation

snjadhav's picture

Gluten Development - An observation


I have been reading this forum and baking for 2 years now. I wanted to share an observation i.e. when I use at least 10% butter/oil/fat in my bread reciepe, I end up with a great dough with well developed gluten.

I tired this experiment with flour purchased from different stores in Bangalore, India as; we do not have branded bread / all purpose flour available. My initial reaction was that the gluten development was dependent on it's content in different proportion, in flour purchased from different stores; however, for the past month or so, I used flour from 4 different stores and kept the recipe (mentioned below) consistent and I am getting great results.


  • All purpose flour - 100%
  • Water - 60%
  • Oil / butter / fat - 10%
  • Salt - 2%
  • Fresh yeast - 2%
  • Kneading time - 10 min. (manual kneading)

Could the experts on this forum throw some light on why the gluten develops consistently when using at least 10% Oil / butter / fat in the recipe?


BettyR's picture

Try as I might I still have not been able to figure out how to do the % thing with bread. If it wouldn't be to much trouble would you mind posting your recipe?


I like to play around and experiment with ingredients in various bread recipes that we use on a daily basis. I had a recipe recently that called for 4 ounces of butter and I was getting low on real butter so I subbed 3 ounces of melted tub butter which is mostly water but has a great butter flavor and 2 tablespoons of oil. The dough turned out to exceptionally well so now I use this sub all the time.

Chuck's picture

"Bakers percentages" (as above) make it ridiculously easy to scale a recipe up or down to meet your needs, and have become the usual way recipes are communicated.

As shown in the folllowing post, the math is awfully simple. If nevertheless you're "allergic" to any math at all, you may find one or the other of a couple mechanical aids useful. One is a calculator that remembers both a number and a function. Just enter the amount of flour when you start. Then for each ingredient enter the bakers percentage and press "go", and the amount will be displayed. The other is some of the newer digital scales let you enter those odd-looking percentages directly, then for each ingredient simply tell you "more ..." or "enough".

I suspect what really bothers you isn't bakers percentage math at all, but rather the change from "volume" measures to "weight" measures. Instead of cups and tablespoons and teaspoons, everything is in grams. This is much more accurate (a "cup" of flour frequently varies anywhere between 105 grams and 150 grams), making it much easier to repeat any recipe exactly the same as last time. And it avoids all the funky math that the old volume measures require (quick, how many teaspoons in 1/3 cup?).

Although this change from "volume" measures to "weight" measures freaks out a lot of people initially, pretty much everyone grows to love it and wouldn't go back for anything. (And rest assured, you can tackle "volume->weight" and "bakers percentages" completely separately; they haven't got a whole lot to do with each other.)

snjadhav's picture

Hi BettyR

Anna has correctly illustrated the math; so I won't add more.


AnnaInMD's picture

remember that the amount of flour is ALWAYS 100%

So, no matter how many ounces or grams of flour the recipe calls for, that specified amount is always 100%.

So if it calls for 500 grams of flour (which is the 100%),

then 60% water would be 60% of the 100% (the 500 grams) of flour or,

500 x .60 = 300 grams

10% of oil would be  500 x .10 or 50 grams

2% salt is 500 x .02 or 10 grams


Happy baking,




Chuck's picture

Fats tend to "cap" the ends of gluten strands and so prevent them from getting even longer. (The resulting "short" gluten strands is where the name "shortbread" comes from:-) The net effect is that with more fats in the recipe the gluten develops much more slowly, and most likely only from active kneading (as opposed to automatically with something like an "autolyse").

Dough with a lot of fats in it will make "soft" (as opposed to "chewy") loaves, but you'll have to take more and more care to get it to rise reasonably.

(I'm curious: Do you know approximately what the gluten content of your various flours actually is? Is it really all that different?)

snjadhav's picture

Hi Chuck

I wish I could find out the gluten content of the flour I am using. The flour sold in India does not have the nutrition content printed and I am not sure how to determine the gluten content other than asking a lab to analyse (May be difficult to identify a lab and get the analysis as; I haven't attempted it :) ).

From the various other forums that I have been browsing; I understand that the gluten content of most Indian wheat is ~ 10% - 13%.

I will try to post a picture of the bread that I made last evening to demonstrate the rise and crumb.

mredwood's picture


I have a question. If fats cap gluten would it be better to develop the gluten first then add the fat? You probably would get a nice soft loaf but one that is well developed and could be baked free form without losing it's shape. Or have I missed the idea?

Chuck's picture

Well I have to say "I dunno"; maybe others do, or maybe it's just time to try it both ways and see what happens (and post to tell everybody else:-).

My guess is if you develop the gluten first, the longer strands of gluten will make it "chewy" no matter whether you add fat or not. In other words my guess is adding the fat later would still give you its flavor contribution yet pretty much neutralize its effect on the texture.

emmsf's picture

Yes, I think you're both right - fat will interfere with the production of gluten and the resulting dough  will be more slack and the bread will be softer.  That's not necessarily a bad thing - it all depends on what you're seeking.  For example, some egg breads are quite soft, since there is fat in eggs.  You can add the fat after the dough is fully developed to diminish the effect  of the fat on the gluten, or you can add the fat earlier and get a softer bread.  It's all a matter of what you are looking for.

jennyloh's picture

SJ - So,  your theory is with oil, your dough has better gluten development,  and if not,  it doesn't develop as well.

It is interesting.  Could it be the result that with oil, it's easier to knead the dough such that, often,  I'm able to knead better when the recipe calls for oil/butter?

Chuck /emmsf - I've seen a couple of recipes esp the asian breads,  they usually call for adding the butter after kneading of the dough,  now I understand the reason why they do that.


snjadhav's picture

Hi Jenny

You may be right; addiing Oil/Butter makes it easier kneading and therefore the gluten development; however, I have had success with "all purpose flour".

My whole wheat tests have failed to develop sufficient gluten to make a light loaf with the formula mentioned in the original post (replacing 100% all purpose flour with whole wheat flour).


rjerden's picture

I don't know how strong the flour you are using is, but in general, adding oil/butter/milk/soy lecithin will make the dough more extensible (easier to knead) and the crumb softer.

If it is a very strong flour, you might get a better rise as the dough doesn't have to fight against the gluten as much (the oil lets the gluten strands slide past each other). If the flour is weak, the loaf might not keep its shape and will spread out too much.