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Fatty products soften flour products and incorporate delicate flavour to them as a result of better dough aeration and the lubricating effect in the mouth (Renzyaeva, 2013). The examples of fats that are commonly used in pastry making include butter, lard, vegetable oils, hydrogenated shortening, and emulsified shortenings (Suas, 2012).
Fats and oils are commonly classified as shortening agents (Suas, 2012). The term shortening refers to the ability of fats to lubricate, weaken, or shorten the structure of food components to provide a food product with desirable textural properties (Mamat & Hill, 2014).
In the process of dough kneading, the flour protein interacts with water to form long strands of gluten, which are tough and elastic. When fat is added into the formulation, the pastry dough is easier to handle and tends to have a more crumbly texture that melts in the mouth. Fat interrupts the development of the gluten strands by hindering them from the water in the recipe, resulting the long strands of gluten are ‘shortened’ and giving a weaker, less rigid structure to the baked pastry (Renzyaeva, 2013; Bent et al., 2013).
The quantity of fat used in the recipe is also the key to achieve favourable texture. Most recipe for pastry contain between 40-50g of fat per 100g of flour. The pastry dough turns out to become tough and elastic without fat. It becomes flinty, brittle with shrinkage and distortion when baked. However, the paste will become soft and difficult to handle if the fat level is excessive resulting the baked pastry is soft and crumbly (Bent et al., 2013).
Bent, A., Bennion, E., & Bamford, G. (2013). The Technology of Cake Making(6th ed., p. 42). UK: Springer Science & Business Media.
Mamat, H., & Hill, S. E. (2014). Effect of fat types on the structural and textural properties of dough and semi-sweet biscuit. Journal Of Food Science And Technology, 51(9), 1998-2005. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-012-0708-x
Renzyaeva, T. V. (2013). On the Role of Fats in Baked Flour Goods. Food And Raw Materials, 1(1), 19-25. https://doi.org/12737/1513
Suas, M. (2012). Advanced Bread and Pastry (p. 479). Clifton Park, NY: Delmar Cengage Learning.