I was experimenting on dough for chapathi, which is basically wheat tortilla. This is how I normally prepare it,

Mix whole wheat flour and salt with room tap water, often 20 to 30 degree Celsius .

Knead with oil until I get a consistent dough.

Immediately press with a rolling pin and cook in a pan

In this method, the product is often crisp, never fluffy and no particular taste.

But today I experimented with hot boiling water as I read recently it denatures protein in food, which prompted me to experiment.

When I cooked my chapathi, those were extra tender but more importantly, it was very sweet, even though I added salt .

I hope to find a scientific explanation to this phenomenon.

  • The tangzhong method aims to made softer and fluffier bread. See e.g. kingarthurbaking.com/blog/2018/03/26/introduction-to-tangzhong. Maybe someone more expert on it than me can comment on the sweetness question. Aug 10, 2020 at 15:19
  • "sweet" and "salty" are not opposites and are hardly incompatible tastes. Leaving NSFW examples aside, have you tried salted caramels, for example? Aug 11, 2020 at 12:07

1 Answer 1


Flour is mostly starch, and starches are long chains of sugar molecules. When you add hot water to starches they gelatinize and burst, and these gelatinized starches soften the dough. Gelatinization works faster at higher temperatures. There are enzymes in the flour which break the starch down into sugars, and they work more efficiently at high than room temperature as well, say 65°C.

Both these processes work at lower temperatures, but they work faster a higher temperatures, which is why adding boiling water gave you that result. At room temperature gelatinization works faster than enzymes action breaking starch down into sugars, so letting the dough rest will soften the dough without making it much sweeter.

  • What should one do to get tender yet non-sweet dough.
    – User
    Aug 10, 2020 at 15:22
  • I would do 2 things: 1) add oil or butter to the dough itself and 2) let the dough stand for some time after kneading, 30 to 60 minutes of resting is good for chapati dough
    – GdD
    Aug 10, 2020 at 15:26
  • Therefore the key is resting the dough. May I ask what physical/chemical effects happens when dough is allowed to rest?
    – User
    Aug 10, 2020 at 15:28
  • Resting the dough lets the gluten you developed relax, and the starch more time to gelatinize and soften.
    – GdD
    Aug 10, 2020 at 15:38
  • @rumtscho is right (as usual): there is no non-enzymatic way to turn starches into sugars. But maybe gelatinizing and bursting the starch molecules makes it easier for yeast to do its work in turning starches (long-chain molecules) into sugars (short-chain). Aug 10, 2020 at 15:55

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