The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What Makes Things Chewy?

kjonyou's picture

What Makes Things Chewy?

I like a chewy bread and chewy cookies. I have been trying to make chewy cookies based on Alton Brown's Chewy cookie recipe but if I alter the ingredients just a bit, more sugar, more butter, etc I always seem to loose the chewy part.  He uses bread flour which adds more gluten and basically he melts the butter instead of the the usual creaming method.  He claims that bread flour will absorb more liquid from the melted butter making more gluten. 

I know gluten is key here even in bread, but the details still seem to allude me.  Why is it that kneading bread a long time is a good thing and making cookies is a bad thing if the end goal is chewiness from gluten?

I have read a lot of  posted all over the Internet for the secret to chewiness but they seem all over the map.  Anything from adding sour cream, honey, corn syrup, brown sugar to more water, less water, more kneading, no kneading. 

Can anyone explain or straighten this out for me?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Is it when your upper teeth stick to your lower ones and don't pull apart?   Be specific as you can.

jeb's picture

One of the ways that I was taught to get chewy cookies is to drop the baking sheet flat on the counter (or in the oven if there is room) with about 2 minutes left in the baking time, and then resume cooking for the final time. It causes them to fall, and end up more chewy.

nhtom's picture

Most people like cookies more crunchy than chewy.  That's why they say don't mix or knead the cookies for long.

Try mixing or kneading the cookies longer - and so release the glutin.

Experiment with a small batch and see what you get.

kjonyou's picture

I did that, and the results were.....not chewy, but very had by the next day.  Done from the same test batch of dough.  I alwasy read dont over mix, just mix to combine or pulse a few times.  So it was a good exercise anyway, now I know for sure and not just old wives tales.  Over mixing makes makes you cookies hard, especially next day.

On another note, I tried a different batch adding a couple of Tbsp of Vital Wheat Gluten to the Bread Flour.  Results:  Chewy! 

I am just not sure why scientifically this is?   High gluten gives me a chewy texture, but developing gluten gives me a hard texture. Shorter strands but more of them?

On a third batch, I mixed bread flour with cake flour.  I read a couple of recipes from chefs that did this.  In theory, the bread flour has more protein, the cake has more starch, the both absorb more liquid then AP flour.  They can handle more sugar too.  The result, Sort of chewy, sort of dry.  I am not sure why more water absorption make them more chewy.

Anyone have any guesses what is happening here?