Among the cereal flours, only wheat flour will form a viscoelastic dough when mixed with water. The viscoelasticity appears to be because the gluten proteins are water compatible and thus will swell and interact. The gluten protein's large molecular size and low charge density appear to allow them to interact by both hydrogen and hydrophobic bonds. Wheat flour doughs are also unique in their ability to retain gas. This property appears to result from a slow rate of gas diffusion in the dough. The third major unique property of wheat flour doughs is their ability to set in the oven during baking, and thereby to produce a rigid loaf of bread. Although not clearly understood, this appears to be a heat-induced crosslinking of the gluten proteins.
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