Give Now

A Moment of Science

What Happens To Bread In The Oven?

Where does the water go when you put bread in the oven?

sliced bread

Photo: elana's pantry (Flickr)

As the bread cools, the starch molecules contract, expelling some of the water, but for a few days, most of the starch molecules stay spread out and hold onto the water

Water and flour alone make a gluey mess, but with the heat of the oven, two different components of the flour exchange water molecules and in the process turn the dough into a sturdy, but spongy material we know of as bread.

Starch granules and gluten molecules are both present in the wheat plant and are the two main players in the process of converting flour into bread. At room temperature, the starch in flour is contained in small, hard granules that don’t absorb very much water. Gluten at room temperature consists of long protein molecules curled up and interspersed with water molecules.

Add Some Heat!

But starting at around 140 degrees Fahrenheit, a change occurs.

The protein molecules of the gluten straighten out and bond to each other–squeezing out the water molecules and forming a firm matrix around the starch granules and gas bubbles. At the same time, the starch molecules separate from each other and begin to absorb the water squeezed out of the gluten.

Gluten And Bread

It’s the gluten that gives the dough its strength, but the gluten also gives up water molecules to the starch granules. As the starch absorbs that water, the small, hard granules expand into moist, springy particles that give fresh bread its soft, moist character.

As the bread cools, the starch molecules contract, expelling some of the water, but for a few days, at least, most of the starch molecules stay spread out and hold onto the water. As the starch gives up its water and returns to hard granules, the bread gets stale. But that’s our topic for next time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Benjamin-Kosasih/100000320241844 Benjamin Kosasih

    when we bake the bread it will become water absorbant and make us fell having plenty sooner than we eat non baked one.in traditional medicine it is working well for diarrhea treatment

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Benjamin-Kosasih/100000320241844 Benjamin Kosasih

    in accordance with traditional medicine baking bread is good for diarrhea treatment because of being water absorbant.

  • Anonymous

    Good website for reports =A+

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from A Moment of Science:

Support for Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science

Search A Moment of Science