Are you ready to create high, billowy, beautiful loaves of homemade bread?
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!
About dough enhancers
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.
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!
Learn all the tricks!!
Since this is a pdf file you can download it immediately after purchase and get all the tips and tricks today! Check it out- Complete Beginner's Guide to Making Homemade Bread
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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 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!
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?
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 (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.
If you click on the number of servings in the recipe card you can adjust the measurements up or down for the exact number of servings you need. Don't forget that you can click on "add to collection" to save it to your own, private recipe box!
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Click through to these bread recipes to try this great dough enhancer out!
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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 July 2020 to update information and give the reader a better experience.
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