eli5 The magic of dough


How the hell do so many recipes for so many different types of dough create such drastically different products from such a similar recipe ? Bread , dumpling, pasta , biscuits , rolls , etc.

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The basic recipe for dough is always the same: flour, water, salt.

The things that can change are
1. Gluten development. The thing that gives bread its chew and cohesion. Kneading bread makes the gluten proteins link together and form long strands that keep the dough together. This is why gluten free bread is crumbly, why bread dough stops sticking as you knead it, and why mixing doughs and batters too much can make them get tough and dry.

2. Enrichment. The secret to making dough into pasta, brioche, fluffy rolls is enrichment. Adding eggs, scalded milk or butter can change the protein makeup of the dough, making it taste different, stick together different, and behave differently when it’s cooked

3. Leavening. How a dough is raised can completely change how it comes out of the oven. Yeast and baking powder don’t tend to come out too differently other than taste as both rely on releasing carbon dioxide as they’re mixed and heated to create little bubbles inside the bread. However, doughs leavened with butter or other fats, like biscuits and flaky pastries come out completely differently. They rely on cold pieces of butter being trapped between layers of dough. These pieces melt and let off steam in the oven, making the dough around them crisp and puff up