Are you ready to create high, billowy, beautiful loaves of bread? Our grandmothers knew that certain ingredients helped bread dough rise faster and higher, have a better texture, and keep longer. These natural dough enhancers still work well today!
One of the most frequent questions people ask me when it comes to baking bread is how I achieve those big, fluffy loaves. It's not really a secret - I do what commercial bakeries do.
There are a lot of reasons bread doesn't rise to its full potential, so to speak, but one way to ensure that gorgeous high rise loaf is a dough enhancer. Commercial bakeries use it for a reason.
Now, I am not telling you to use bunch of chemicals that you dump into the dough mixture. There are lots of natural ingredients that help your bread achieve that gorgeous shape that you are looking for.
Here are some of my favorite ingredients to make your dough rise higher. You can use one of them or combine several. Take some time to try them to see what works for you.
I first learned about adding 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger from an ancient cookbook. Old cookbooks are one of my addictions and I found this one in a second hand store. That was back when I first started baking bread in 1974. The note to add ginger was handwritten in the flyleaf so I tried it - and loved the result.
Ginger is still my favorite additive when I bake bread. The spice boosts the yeast like that first cup of coffee hitting you in the morning. The yeast gets more active much more quickly.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of ginger in with the water when you are first proofing the yeast to help your bread rise higher and fluffier.
By the way? Prior to my posting a bread recipe with ginger in the ingredients list back in 2006 there were virtually NO bread recipes on the internet with ginger as an ingredient.
The next time you boil potatoes don't salt the water. When the potatoes are done save that cloudy water in a Mason jar tightly covered in the fridge. Then, when you are ready to make your fluffy loaf of bread, warm the potato water to 110F and use it in place of the water in the recipe (in equal measure).
This works well to help your bread rise because of the potato starch in the water. The starch encloses the gas bubbles in dough and strengthens them. That makes your bread rise lighter and higher. Of course it also gives a pleasant flavor and I feel good about being as frugal as my grandmother was!
Don't keep potato water more than a few days, though. It sours and can really smell up your kitchen.
Wheat gluten is present in all wheat flour and it is the substance that gives the dough that elastic feel. It strengthens the dough and holds the gas bubbles produced by the yeast and to make the bread rise higher.
You can buy vital wheat gluten, which is just the gluten. Substitute 1 tablespoon gluten for 1 tablespoon flour in each cup of flour for whole wheat bread and about half that for white. So, if your recipe calls for 8 cups whole wheat flour you'll remove 1/2 cup of the flour and add 1/2 cup of gluten. Add with the flour.
If you're making pizza dough or Italian bread you can add about 1 1/2 tablespoons per cup of flour to give your bread that chewier texture.
Dry milk powder
Adding 2 tablespoons instant dry milk powder per loaf of bread will help your bread rise higher, stay soft, and hold the moisture longer. That means it won't get stale as quickly. Dry milk powder creates a more golden brown crust and improves nutrition, too.
Add it with the flour.
Vitamin C powder
Don't use this in your artisan type breads that have a coarser crumb but it will help make sandwich loaves soft -- especially good when it comes to wheat breads.
The acid of the vitamin C helps the yeast to work better and also acts as a preservative by deterring the growth of mold and bacteria.
I toss the contents of a bottle of vitamin C tablets in the blender, turn them into a powder, and then store it in a Mason jar. I use 1/8 teaspoon per loaf of bread, adding it in with the flour.
There are other additives you can use, of course. In addition to the ones mentioned above people add:
- dried potato flakes
- A variety of other ingredients
I tend to stick with those listed here because in the 41+ years I've been making bread they haven't let me down!
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Just about a year ago I wrote and published a bread making book, Bread Bootcamp: It's Not a Cookbook...It's an Adventure. I took all of the questions y'all have asked me over the years and created a bread baking course that takes you through the process from the basics to the advanced. You start easy then get to the more complicated recipes. By the time you finish the book you can make a variety of breads.
Gluten flour is available almost everywhere but I often get mine on Amazon because it's just so darn convenient. Bob's Red Mill Gluten Flour
Here are the most commonly asked questions about this recipe. If you don't find the answer to yours here leave a comment below or email me - I'll get back to you as soon as I can!
What is dough enhancer?
Ingredients or combinations of ingredients that are added to bread dough to get it to rise better, stay softer, and last longer.
What is bread improver?
Bread improver is just another name for dough enhancer.
What makes bread rise?
Yeast turns the starches and sugars in flour to carbon dioxide gas which in turn inflates air bubbles in the bread causing it to rise. Since the yeast is also multiplying and producing more carbon dioxide the bread rises more and more.
Dough enhancers (bread conditioners) work really well when everything else is working right, too. If you are having trouble check out this information on troubleshooting.
- Yeast Bread Baking Tips Part 1
- Part 2
- Yeast Bread Baking Troubleshooting
- Different Kinds of Flour
- A Complete Guide to Bread Baking
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Click through to these bread recipes to try this great dough enhancer out!
Homemade Dough EnhancerPrint Add to Collection Go to Collections
- 1 cup wheat gluten
- 2 tablespoons lecithin granules
- 1 teaspoon vitamin C granules
- 2 tablespoons powdered fruit pectin
- 2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
- 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
- 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
- Mix together and store in a capped Mason jar in the refrigerator.
- To Use: Add 3 tablespoons for each loaf of bread a recipe makes.
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First published August 2015. Last updated March 2020 to update information and give the reader a better experience.