What Is Gluten and How Does It Work?

Gluten, the heart and soul of yeast bread's size, shape, and crumb, is made of two proteins: gliadin and glutenin. These proteins are activated when water is added to flour.

Gliadin makes dough extensible (stretchable); glutenin encourages it to "snap back" like a rubber band. Kneading dough aligns its gluten strands, forming them into a web. This web traps the gas created by yeast — which causes bread to rise.