Are you ready to create high, billowy, beautiful loaves of homemade bread?
About dough enhancers
Our grandmothers knew that certain ingredients helped the dough rise faster and higher, have a better texture, and keep longer without going stale or molding. These natural dough enhancers and bread improvers still work well today!
One of the most frequent questions people ask me is how I achieve those big, fluffy loaves. It's not really a secret - I do what commercial bakeries do.
Dough enhancer, also called bread improver.
There are a lot of reasons bread doesn't rise to its full potential, so to speak, but one way to ensure that gorgeous loaf is a dough enhancer. Commercial bakeries use it for a reason.
Now, I am not telling you to use a bunch of chemicals dumped into your recipe. There are tons of natural ingredients that help your bread rise high, light, and fluffy.
What does dough enhancer do?
Bread improvers and enhancers do several things which is why it's best to use a homemade mixture like the one in the recipe card below. Each ingredient works with all the other ingredients.
- It improves how the bread rises
- It improves the texture
- It improves the taste
- It improves the crust
- It makes a lighter, fluffier bread with a more tender crumb
- It even helps to extend the shelf life because it's a natural preservative.
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 each of them to see what works for you.
I first learned about adding ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger from an (almost) ancient cookbook. Old cookbooks are one of my addictions and I found this one in a second hand store. The note to add ginger was handwritten in the flyleaf so I tried it - and loved the result.
Ginger is still my favorite dough enhancer additive. This common spice boosts the yeast like that first cup of coffee hitting you in the morning. The yeast gets more active much more quickly.
Add ¼ teaspoon of ginger in with the water when you are first proofing the yeast to help your bread rise higher and fluffier. It won't make your bread taste like ginger, either.
The next time you boil potatoes don't salt the water. When the potatoes are done save that cloudy water in a Mason jar.
Cover it tightly and store it in the refrigerator.
Then, when you are ready to make your recipe, warm the potato water to 110F and use it in place of the water or milk (in equal measure).
This works to help your bread rise because of the potato starch that's left 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 a protein that's present in all wheat flour. It's 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. It's really helpful when you are using different kinds of flour.
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 ½ cup of the flour and add ½ cup of gluten added in with the flour.
If you're making pizza dough or Italian bread you can add about 1 ½ 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.
Use ⅛ 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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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
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Here are the questions I am most frequently asked about this recipe.
Ingredients or combinations of ingredients that are added to bread dough to get it to rise better, stay softer, and last longer.
Bread improver is another name for dough enhancer.
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.
It makes the bread lighter, fluffier, and more flavorful as well as helping it stay fresh longer.
📚 Related recipes
Dough enhancers (also called bread conditioners or dough improvers) work really well when everything else is working right, too. If you are still having trouble check out this information on troubleshooting.
Click through to these bread recipes to try this great dough enhancer out!
Homemade Dough EnhancerPrint Pin Recipe Save 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
- ½ cup nonfat dry milk powder
- 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
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- 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.
- Let come to room temperature before making bread.
- Shake the jar before using.
- This will stay good indefinitely in the refrigerator.
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First published August 2015. Last updated August 2, 2021 to add information.
In the recipe for dough enhancer you list fruit pectin. Would that be like Sure-Jell or Pomona Pectin or like the Clear Gel I see in the Amish store?
Yes. Just plain old fruit pectin.
So you add this to your favorite bread recipe. I thought there was a full recipe for making the bread
There are plenty of bread recipes on this site as well as links within the post.
Ok I’m a novice at bread baking tho 85 years old but with your excellent tutorial that I have stumbled upon here I am going to jump in and try that buttermilk white bread recipe with my kitchen aide mixer since that sounds as if it would. Make the process much easier than stirring it all by hand so here goes! Thank you for taking the fear out of bread baking! And I will report on my attempt at this ifmsuccessful!
You’re bread looks looks so good. But now iam msking sweet bread s I’ll be useing apta it’s Dryden and raisens
I am using 6563 grams of 12% protein bread flour, 2034 grams milk, and 185 grams of yeast. How much Ginger would you recommend for a batch that size?
Chris, as I am a heathen and don't weigh my ingredients I don't know how much all of that is. What I can tell you is you only need a pinch for a single packet of yeast.
I am trying to make a good loaf of rye. Would you have any advice?
Try this recipe - https://www.restlesschipotle.com/jewish-rye-bread-secret-getting-right/
Ok I am confused, reading the comments. In the printable square of the recipe on this webpage, I need to combine ALL those ingredients , Yes ?
Yes - that's a recipe for a dough conditioner.
Wow! Who knew 1/4 tsp ginger could work?
I've been trying to get my husband off the expensive, store-bought, chemicalized white bread. But I haven't been able to offer an alternative until now.
Great rise, great crumb, and it lasted in the pantry a full week.
Hie is wheat gluten a good enhancer better than flour ?
you need both.
I make a variety of sweet breakfast breads in a loaf pan. How can I get more “rise” to each loaf without altering the basic recipe?
If they are yeast based make sure you're kneading well. Try substituting 1 tablespoon of gluten for 1 tablespoon flour in each cup.
Informative and well explained, I am yet to try the result, hence giving 4 stars.
If I want to triple my batch for the white bread l do I use 1/4 of ginger three times in my water , for my enhancer because I am triple in the recipe?
No - it's fine to use the smaller amount.
If you use only one ingredient that is showing in your recipe then do you use the 1/4 for each like it you stated for the ginger instead of the 1 teaspoon or do you use the amount listed amount in the ingredients that is in your enhancer recipe? Sample, if I only want to use the powder dry milk, how much would I use of it or the powder fruit pectin? I am confused on what amounts to use if only wanting to use one of these that I already have in my pantry!
It has the measurements right in the post... "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."
Can you use whole grain flour for dinner rolls. I tried and I didn’t get the ride like I should have.
yes you can - you need to knead them longer than white rolls.
can i use potato starch instead of potato water n if so, how much
I've never tried so I'm not sure.
You list several enhancer options. Please confirm you only need to use one of the options of enhancers and not all of them in making bread. If I choose to use ginger or one of the other enhancers is that your instructions, pick and choose one of them?
You only need to use one option.