Two scientists looking to replicate the texture of glutencontaining bread say corn protein is the next step in successful gluten-free bread making.
Scott Bean and Tilman Schober, chemists for the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, are currently studying the texture of gluten-free bread at the Grain Quality and Structure Research Unit in Manhattan, Kan. The pair are experimenting with the corn protein zein, a byproduct that results from corn wet milling and fuel-ethanol production. Bean and Schober learned in previous studies that although the protein produced a wheat-like dough, the dough ultimately lacked strength and resulted in a too-flat bread. But they discovered that removing some of the fat in the zein helped to counter those effects, resulting in freestanding hearth-type rolls similar to traditional wheat rolls.
“We found that removing more of the fat from the protein’s surface allows the proteins to stick to each other much like wheat proteins do–leading to the elastic nature of wheat dough,” Bean said. “…Corn protein, in our view, is an intermediate step to achieving the Holy Grail of gluten-free breads–forming a wheat-like dough using nonwheat proteins, resulting in products with a fluffy, light texture.”