After mixing process, we should have good noodle dough that’s still in crumbles (for hydration ratio of about 20-40%). Now, we need to do something that makes this dough even better.
“Maturation/resting” is a very important process in making of ramen noodles. Good understanding of this resting phenomenon, proper method of resting dough, and development of gluten structures are critical to make good ramen noodles.
The phenomenon of resting works as follows.
Hydration of wheat flour
Hydration is literally a process of evenly distributing molecules of water to particles of wheat flour, one grain by one perfectly. Hydration is not sufficient after mixing is done, but just by leaving the kneaded dough in pieces, the molecules of water spread to the particles of the flour, which moisten. This is hydration of wheat flour. This requires a certain amount of time and temperature.
If there are many small air bubbles entered into dough during mixing, the following problems occur when cooking noodles.
- Bubbles present in gluten tissue expand in volume by many times when heated, the gluten tissue ruptures in a way that pushes it out from the inside, and as a result the texture is impaired.
- Because gluten structure is destroyed, noodles tend to get soft fast after they are cooked.
- When there are many small bubbles in noodles, transparency of noodles is gone, and they become opaque white.
In short, if dough is degassed, noodles have original transparency and good texture from gluten structure.
Easing of gluten
If we keep working and developing gluten by continuously kneading, gluten structure would be destroyed. So, we need to work dough and then rest it.
For example, if there is a dough that has been developed to the limit, and the degree of tension of the gluten is 100%, resting this dough for 5 minutes reduce the tension to 50%. After 5 minutes of further rest, the tension decreases to 25% of half of 50%, 12.5% after another 5 minutes and half of half after half a minute. Then in about half an hour, almost 100% of tension in gluten that is under load and stressed in mixing process.
Function of enzyme
Wheat, the raw material of flour, is originally a plant seed, so it stores starch and protein as an energy source that helps it germinates. Although these starch and protein are decomposed by enzymes to germinate as energy, this enzyme is also contained in wheat flour. When this enzyme works moderately, it improves the taste and makes ramen noodle dough in good condition. It is said that the most delicious ramen noodles in the year is spring and autumn. This is because these seasons provide the most suitable climate for “enzyme work”. Because the temperature is high in the summer, enzyme is too active, which makes dough too soft and sagging. High temperature makes enzyme very active, decomposing gluten/protein, which makes noodles easy to break. Also, low temperature in the winter keeps down the activity of enzyme. As s result, dough is difficult to mature. In other words, you can control the progress of dough maturation by controlling the ambient temperature.
Resting timeProper time of resting for low and medium water content noodles are 30 minutes to 1 hour at room temperature (around 20 degrees Celsius). For high water content noodle, it is 2 hours at 28 degrees Celsius. * Do not rest dough over specified length of time. If rested for too long, it causes excessive decomposition of starch and protein by activity of enzyme. It results in poor noodle texture. * The aging has a correlation between temperature and time, and the higher the temperature, the faster the resting progresses.
There are 3 stages of resting we apply to production of good ramen noodles, and 1st resting process is the most important. Please try this and see the difference. Next step, we are starting to process this crumbles of dough into sheet of dough, which is called rough forming. We talk about this process in another article.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about what’s discussed in this article.