Saturday, December 21, 2013

Dough Enhancers

Dough Enhancers:

As a convenient reference I post this information here, but I did not author it, well some of it I did. But most of the following information I found on this excellent post so I cannot take credit for the research:

Almost anyone who has ever made a loaf of bread has used dough enhancers. Bread of the yeast variety is just flour, water, and yeast. Everything else is a conditioner/enhancer. Sugar is a dough enhancer as it is yeast food. Fats, like butter and vegetable oil, aid in elasticity and the moisture of the loaf. Eggs, among other things, contain a lot of lecithin. So if you feel a little awkward adding new ingredients to bread just remind yourself that almost everything in a loaf of homemade bread is in there to enhance the core ingredients to begin with.

Vital Wheat Gluten -

Gluten: Gluten is a protein naturally found in wheat and is responsible for the elastic structure in bread.The general idea is that the gluten in bread forms long strands in your bread. The fats you add to the bread help these gluten strands slide and stretch better (thus fluffier bread).

Most flour has insufficient gluten so adding some gluten helps; even many "bread flours" (from high protein wheats like hard red spring wheat) can use a little help from some extra gluten--especially whole wheat varieties as the extra texture of the bran is a hindrance to forming an elastic loaf.

Gluten is natural as it is already in the wheat, but adding a small amount can compensate for low-protein flour as well as help a whole wheat bread gain the elastic texture that is typically associated with breads made from bleached non-whole wheat flours.

My take away- Even though the above indicates that most flours do not have sufficient gluten, as long as you always purchase high quality flour, Vital Wheat Gluten is probably not needed with All Purpose or Bread flour recipes. But I will use it with Whole Grain Bread recipes. My brand states "Recommended usage as 3%-5% of total weight of flour"


Lecithin is a natural chemical found in both plants and animals that makes up cell membranes. Unlike most emulsifiers lecithin is naturally metabolized and has a number of recognized positive health benefits. Why use Lecithin? There are too many to mention, but lecithin is a great binding agent, aids in the emulsification of the fats in the bread which, in turn, makes a more consistent crumb as well as helps the bread remains softer by retaining more moisture.

A little bit of lecithin goes a long way in making a great loaf of bread; some places recommends 1 1/2 tsp. per loaf but as little as a 1/2 teas. works well depending on your ingredients.

Lecithin helps make your loaf lighter and stay fresher and is one of the two things I have found that can help give homemade bread a "store" texture without compromising the quality or nutrition of the loaf.

My take away- I will start to add at least a 1/4 tsp. of lecithin per loaf in all by breads from this point forward.

Storage - This product must be kept away from air after opened or it will gum up. I cryovac it after each use and keep it in the freezer.

Ascorbic or Citric Acid-

A simple acid found in citrus fruits, the benefit of using citric acid (or ascorbic acid, aka vitamin C) is that it helps create a more acidic environment for the yeast and helps reduce oxidization.

DON'T USE TOO MUCH! It is potent stuff.

On the ascorbic acid, make sure you get pure powder and not something with a lot of fillers and binders. Also, you don't need much (1/32nd to 1/16th of a teaspoon) for your bread. MORE IS NOT BETTER! A little really does work. Yet a little bit will make for some happy yeast.

My take away- I'm sold on this too. Make sure you get pure Ascorbic Acid, not "Fruit Fresh" as I did. Fruit Fresh has fillers in it. You want the pure stuff. 

Fresh Liquid Whey-

This one I have some experience with, I use this in my Italian Batard recipe. I love that it enhances color and adds creamy flavor. When using liquid whey, I have seen references to people replacing up to all the water in a recipe with whey. And from all accounts the result is favorable. 

Now here is how I make whey:
32 ounces of Traditional Greek Yogurt will yield 2/3 cup whey. Line a strainer with paper towels or several layers of cheese cloth and set it over a shallow bowl. Pour in the yogurt, cover lightly and set it to do its stuff in the refrigerator. The whey will drain from the yogurt and collect in the bowl. 

My liquid whey set up to strain yogurt

Fresh Liquid Whey

Diastic and Non-Diastic Malt Powder:

Non-Diastic Malt provides sweetness and Diastic Malt adds enzyme action.

Diastic Malt promote a strong rise, great texture, and brown crust. Especially useful when flour does not have barley malt added, as is true for most whole wheat flour and many organic flours. Active enzymes in diastatic malt help yeast grow fully and efficiently throughout the fermentation period, yielding a good, strong rise and great oven-spring. Add only a small amount, ½ to 1 teaspoon per 3 cups of flour.

Non-Diastic Malt is a sweet derivative of roasted barley. A key ingredient in bagel dough, but it can be used as a sweetener in any recipe.

Storage - This product must be kept away from air after opened or it will harden. I cryovac it after each use and keep it in the freezer.

I encourage your comments. I am interested in the ingredients people are using, how they use them and the results obtained. 

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