What makes a tender dough?

Patricia wants to know why, when fatayer dough seems just like a regular flat bread dough, it’s so much more tender than pita or pizza dough when it’s baked. Patricia, the answer can be summed up in one word: fat. Or to be more accurate: oil (liquid fat). Oil does two things in fatayer dough. First, it inhibits the development of gluten (that is, the elastic chains of protein molecules that form when you moisten and agitate wheat flour). Second, because oil remains liquid even after it’s been baked into a bread, it softens crust (and crumb to boot). Put the two together and the result is a very soft and pliable, if somewhat more caloric, finished bread.

Here it’s important to note that you can create tender breads without necessarily employing fats or oils. Just about any non-glutinous additive will help to undermine gluten development: corn starch (flour), corn meal, cooked potato, potato starch, rice flour, tapioca flour, nut flours of all types, buckwheat flour, quinoa flour, millet flour, chickpea flour…the list goes on. The double-edged sword of course: the more non-wheat ingredients you add, the lower the rise. Which for a flat bread doesn’t matter as much. A loaf-type bread is of course a different story. Thanks Patricia!

2 thoughts on “What makes a tender dough?”

  1. Joe,
    Do you add mashed potatoes to your cinnamon roll ( brioche) dough? I’m looking to get a really soft and flavorful dough that also holds its shape.

    1. Hey Kay! I’ve never added mashed potato, but a little potato flour would help your cause! I would swap out potato flour for about 15% of the total weight of the wheat flour. Let me know how it goes!

      -Joe

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