Lexington, Ky.— In 2014, a Lexington baker approached University of Kentucky researcher David Van Sanford with a seemingly simple question: could he source locally-grown wheat for his bread-making endeavors? Little did they know, this query would launch a multi-university journey of exploration, experimentation and discovery. The results, recently published in the MDPI journal Foods, could reshape the bread-baking landscape.
Van Sanford, a wheat breeding specialist in the UK Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture Food and Environment Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, explained that the region’s wheat traditionally has low protein content. This makes it ideal for pastries, cookies, cakes and similar baked goods. However, the crucial element required for bread – gluten strength – is missing, thus limiting the use of locally-grown wheat.
“In this part of the country, the wheat we grow is used for just about every baked good except bread, because it has low protein,” Van Sanford said. “Also, bread requires gluten strength to make a nice and firm loaf of bread.”
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