Dough Characteristics

What Makes Good Dough?

The strength and mixing properties of dough help the baker determine the value of the flour they purchase. Flour specifications often require specialized testing to determine how flour will perform during processing.

  • Farinograph testing is one of the most common flour quality tests in the world. Farinograph results are used to determine dough strength and processing requirements.
  • Absorption is a measurement of the amount of water required for the flour to be optimally processed into the finished product. Peak time indicates the time it takes for the dough to develop from the moment the water is added until maximum consistency is achieved. This measurement is expressed in minutes.
  • Stability is an indication of dough strength as it is a measurement of how long the dough maintains maximum consistency. Stability is also expressed in minutes. Weak gluten flour has a lower water absorption and shorter stability time than strong gluten flour.
  • Peak time represents dough development time by measuring the length of time from the moment water is added until the dough reaches maximum consistency. This measurement indicates optimum mixing time for the dough under standardized conditions.
  • Mixing Tolerance Index is the resistance of the dough to breakdown during continued mixing. It is the difference in Brabender Unit (BU) value at the top of the curve at peak time and the value at the top of the curve five minutes after the peak. This indicates tolerance to over-mixing and is expressed as a numerical score based on comparison to a control.
  • Alveograph testing determines the gluten strength of dough by measuring the force required to blow and break a bubble of dough. The results of the test are used by millers to ensure a more consistent product.
    • “P” relates to the force required to blow the bubble of dough;
    • “L” relates to the extensibility of the dough;
    • “W” is a combination of dough strength and extensibility.
    • Weak gluten flour with low P value and long L value is preferred for cakes, whereas strong gluten flour used for breads will have a higher P value.
  • Development time is the time interval from the first addition of water to the maximum consistency immediately prior to the first indication of weakening. Long peak times indicate strong gluten and dough properties while short peak times may indicate weak gluten.