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Biscuits contain flour, sugar and fat as the main ingredients. In addition, various small ingredients can be added for flavor, leavening and texture.
Wheat flour is the largest ingredient in nearly all biscuits. It is made from wheat grains by removing the brown bran and the little yellow embryo and reducing the particle size to a fine powder. The grain consists of 12% bran, 85.5% the white center and 2.5% tiny germ. Typically biscuit flour is milled to a yield or extraction of 70-75%. The wholemeal flour has 100% extraction while the wheat meal flours normally have around 84% extraction. The flour also contains moisture of 13-15%.
Wheat flour consists of carbohydrates (such as starch), protein and fat, together with some fiber, ash and trace minerals and vitamins.
The percentage of a protein determines the flour's strength. When mixing the dough, the proteins of wheat flour combine to form the gluten. The protein molecules form long strands of gluten, which have strength and elasticity. A dough made from high-gluten flour(typically protein content 10-12%), the gluten of it forms an elastic web, which allows the dough to be machined into a thin dough sheet for crackers and hard dough biscuits. The gluten web could trap air and gas bubbles formed by yeast fermentation. The combination of fermentation and laminating of the dough gives the open, flaky texture of crackers during baking. On the other hand, when the dough is made from low-gluten flour, it makes a dough with a much weaker gluten web. Moreover, these doughs have higher fat content. The fat coats the flour particles and this inhibits the hydration of the proteins and the formation of the gluten web. This could produce short dough for soft biscuits, or soft, high-fat dough for soft, tender cookies.
Starch is the main component of wheat flour. It represents almost all of the carbohydrate content. Starch is insoluble in water, however, the starch granules do absorb water in the dough and swell. When heated to 60-70°C, the swelling is irreversible and gelatinization begins. Normally, only partial gelatinization of starch occurs in baked biscuits. It contributes to the rigidity, texture and coloring of the biscuits.
Corn flour is a white free-flowing powder extracted through multiple processes. When used in producing biscuits, the protein of corn flour does not form gluten, which can make biscuits more tender.
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