Does the number combining processes affect dough hardness?
There is a process, called “combining”, which combines a sheet of dough and a sheet of dough in making of ramen noodles. For those of you who are not familiar with this process, you can read this article for more details.
Combining process plays the following roles in making of good ramen noodles.
1. Develop/build gluten structures inside dough
By folding sheets of dough, join gluten structure into web-like construction inside dough
2. Even development of gluten throughout dough
By folding sheets of dough, train the entire areas of dough evenly and develop gluten
3. Appropriate training/building of dough
Gluten structure is developed up to the point before it is destroyed/damaged
This time, we are doing some tests to see how noodle’s hardness changes over rounds of combining processes. We measure the elasticity/bounciness of noodles on a rheometer (measuring equipment for bounciness of noodles). We do this for the same noodles (same wheat flour, liquid ratio, and other conditions) at each round of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th combining processes.
The contents of noodle making
Wheat flour: Yamato Spirit
Liquid ratio: 35% (inside 1% kansui, 1% salt)
Cutter: Square No. 18
We make noodles from each round of 1-4th combining process and measure hardness and elasticity of each noodle.
Basically, as we do more combining processes, the harder the noodle gets. However, you see that after 4th combining process, the number for the hardness drops. We understand that the gluten structure was destroyed when dough went through combining process for 4th time.
So, we understand that it is not necessarily that noodles become harder with more times of combining. There should be proper number of combining applied.
At our school and labs, our recommendation is 2 times for good textures (balanced with moderate hardness and chewiness).
If you really adjust hardness by combining process, you should do it 3 times.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about this article or anything.
Ramen Chef/Instructor Jason
Over a decade, he’s worked as a ramen shop owner, chef, consultant and over the past few years, he’s been teaching ramen and udon at Yamato Ramen School in Singapore. He shares his expertise on noodle making and operational aspects of noodle restaurants.