An ultrasonic investigation of the effect of voids on the mechanical properties of bread dough and the role of gas cells in determining the cellular structure of freeze-dried breadcrumb

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Elmehdi, Hussein Mohamed
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This thesis is an analysis of voids in the breadmaking process, more specifically the effect of gas cells entrapped in the dough during mixing, their expansion during fermentation, and their relationship to the breadcrumb structure in the final product. This is important to food scientists because the voids ultimately influence the structural integrity of bread and hence its quality. Understanding how voids affect the viscoelastic properties of dough is also a challenging problem in soft condensed matter physics. Longitudinal ultrasonic velocity and attenuation measurements, performed at 54 kHz, investigated changes in the mechanical properties of dough and bread as void concentration was varied. In the first part of the thesis, the effect of voids on the properties of unyeasted dough at the end of mixing was investigated. As [straight phi] is increased, the attenuation coefficient increased linearly with [straight phi]; hence the change in attenuation is proportional to the number of voids, allowing the combined effects of scattering and absorption by single voids to be directly determined. By contrast, the ultrasonic velocity decreased dramatically with increasing [straight phi] in the range 0.0 12 < [straight phi] < 0.03, while at higher [straight phi], the velocity decrease was less rapid. An effective medium model successfully modeled the viscoelastic behavior of the dough at all void fraction values, provided that the shear modulus of the matrix was permitted to vary. The same ultrasonic technique was also used to monitor the increase in gas cell size due to CO 2 production during fermentation of yeasted dough. A large decrease in velocity and an increase in the attenuation coefficient were observed as the gas cells grew. In addition, at early fermentation times, a substantial contributi n to the velocity decrease arises from a reduction in the shear modulus of the dough matrix. This occurs because the pH drops as CO2 molecules dissolve in the matrix and intermolecular interactions are weakened due to protein chain charge repulsion effects. In the second part of the thesis, freeze-dried breadcrumb structure was investigated. To change the size of the air cells, the dough was proofed for various times. Ultrasonic velocity and amplitude decrease with increasing [straight phi]. The experimental data were found to be in reasonable agreement with theoretical models for the elasticity of isotropic cellular foams and tortuosity. The effects of anisotropy in breadcrumb structure were studied by compressing samples uniaxially, thereby transforming the shape of the air cells from approximately spherical to elongated ellipsoids. Ultrasonic measurements were taken in the directions parallel and perpendicular to the strain. These results indicated that the path by whichsound propagates is critical. The data were interpreted using the same two theoretical models, taking into account anisotropy effects. The tortuosity model was able to interpret the void fraction dependence of the velocity along the two orthogonal directions, thus giving a way of relating changes in ultrasonic velocity to changes in breadcrumb structure. This thesis demonstrates the potential for using ultrasound as a non-destructive, cheap and accurate tool for studying the effect of voids (and their expansion) on dough properties. These ultrasonic techniques can also be used to investigate the effect of air cells on the structural integrity of breadcrumb and hence be a useful tool for quantitatively assessing bread quality.