The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread Improver

  • Pin It
Jokat's picture
Jokat

Bread Improver

Hi All,

I saw a recipe tonight that calls for Bread Improver... Can someone please tell me what this is, as well as how natural it is, i.e. is it just a bunch af chemicals or is it a natural product?

Kind Regards

Jokat

Ricardo's picture
Ricardo

Not sure I find stack of this in supermarkets but looks like it is for bread machines to improve the shelf durability and give some srping to the sandwich bread
Don't use it since I make crusty loaves

sphealey's picture
sphealey

Typically dough improvers are blends of diastatic malt (feeds the yeast and adds sweetness), vital wheat gluten (increases gluten content to make the dough stretchier, esp. for rye breads), potato flour (makes crumb smoother and silkier), and possibly flavours (e.g. the characteristic rye sour flavour). If purchased from a reputable baking source these will all be natural ingrediants, and many recipes call for them anyway (e.g. Rose Levy's Levy Rye Bread). They can change the flavour and characteristics of the bread though so you will want to check the ingrediants list and do some testing.
.
sPh

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

A few weeks ago, I purchased a kilo (it didn't come any smaller) Puratos Toupan A Bread Improver. It contains: starch, calcium sulfate, wheat flour, vitamin C, a-amylase (alpha-amylase) Add between 0.3 - 0,5 % on flour weight.

Well I tried some into my flour aiming at 0.4% and used my low gluten wheat flour (no egg). I didn't tell my husband, a true test. He cut one slice and asked, "What happened to the bread?" He disappeared with the end. He never touched the loaf again. It was wet, or very moist, with a stick together kind of crumb and there was a sweet acid like, presevative taste -- no more like smell. For 500 gm flour I used a level tablespoon. It now just sits there in the cupboard. I think I got my math wrong. Was that suppose to be 1/2 teaspoon? Mini Oven

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

I bought some bread improver early on in my baking life to help my whole-wheat loaves, but quickly decided to throw it away. I found that, so long as I used high-quality flour with high gluten content, I didn't need it. And one time, when I used it on a loaf that I'd prepared for a slow, all-day rise (1/4 tsp yeast and the dough left all day in a cool room) the dough just went limp. It was sad to see. No rise, no strength.

Maybe it does some good for folks who only have access to weak flours, but it never did me a whole lot of good.

manxman's picture
manxman

You may be interested in Dan Lepard's comments re improvers at

http://www.danlepard.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=472

basically it is how to make soft baps using his home made improver

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I guess this means anything other than flour and water is a bread improver. If the flour type can be an improvement and the kind of water one uses improves the bread, then it goes to say, that anything in the dough is a bread improver. So what will we do today to improve our bread? Guess I'll go drink a cup of coffee and wake up. "Please pass the coffee improver, thank you."
:) Mini Oven

Later after the coffee:
"I feel improved!"
I cut open todays loaf. I smuggled a half teaspoon of the way above mentioned improver into it and so far so good. Unfortunately threw in so many caraway seeds that I can't really judge the flavor other than enjoy the caraway flavor.

It is a satisfactory loaf. I had first laid it in my casserol to rise but discovered that it rose without ever touching the sides, so it held it's shape. (There is also an egg in there.) So I carefully tipped it out and placed it on parchment paper and preheated my mini oven with baking sheet upside down on lowest shelf setting. I sprayed the loaf lightly with water before I scored it, that helped. Poured boiling water over shelf and parked my loaf for 30 min. I burnt it. 220° is too hot. Forgot to turn the temp down, live and learn. Grated it and it's just fine, also got a good oven rise.

Now I am curious how this loaf holds up in a few days. Normally the loaves get very dry, even in plastic, there are actually dust marks when I cut! If this loaf is really improved, then I have solved most of my problems. So I'm not throwing the improver away just yet. Look for an update in a few days..... :) Mini Oven

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Test person's comment: "Good Bread." Naturally the crust was a bit softer the next day, which also happens in the pastic bag. The test loaf did not survive longer than 24 hours. Guess that sort of sums things up. For my low gluten flour, I will add to every loaf (1 cup water and 3 cups of flour), one half teaspoon improver and one whole egg after poolish has aged 6-12 hours. :) Mini Oven

(Orange juice in my oat bread might be worth considering...)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I noticed I get indigestion when I eat bread made with it, even notice it in other baked breads, not my own.  Same reaction.   Austrian bread also has it.  But not everywhere....    :) Mini Oven

jm_chng's picture
jm_chng

You really don't need bread improvers when baking at home. These are for commercial bakers to save time and maximise profit. I never use them and make way better bread than you can buy in a shop. Salt and water are the only things I add to flour.

Jim

Thegreenbaker's picture
Thegreenbaker

I use bread improver.

I have been thinking lately that I'll try a couple of loaves with out it, but I am afraid to!

We buy homebrand/no name brand/cheap wholemeal flour. We can sometimes go through 3 kgs a week when I am in my baking height. (and eat alot of bread......so I am trying to cut down on how much I bake)  So at$5 a week we were getting quite a few loaves of bread.

We are kind of at a point in our lives when we are trying to save money and get ahead and buying cheap is one of the few things we are doing to achieve this.

I dont get as good a crust the next day with bread improver but I do get a good crumb. It makes it easier to get to reach the elastic stage when kneading, and I think with out it my cheap flour wont reach that stahe and I will have poor bread. :(  

 

I'll have to try it with out, and maybe buy less flour, but better brands.  I have never seen KA flour here in Oz though.

 

 

jm_chng's picture
jm_chng

A bakers maxim should always be, "one thing at a time". Bake one loaf without the bread improver first. You might need to let the dough rest for an hour before kneading but look at my video, 'working the dough...' to see how easy that is. I've developed a long rise system, way before NYT, : -), it was inspired by a French technique of using no leaven at all, I wanted to see how little leaven I could use and still get a good loaf. A long rise will maximise the potential of your flour. And my 24 hour rise is very convenient.
If you're wanting to save money then bread improver should be the first thing to go. Then look at your flour when you know what you can get from it. You could be very pleasantly surprised. Hey, no matte how bad the bread you make it's still edible, so what have you got to lose?
Jim

Thegreenbaker's picture
Thegreenbaker

hhhhmmmmm.

 

What exactly do you do Jim?

I mean, you mix the dough first obviously....is it a wetter dough or a stiffer dough?

Then do you cover it and leave it for 12 or 24 hours or something similar? Like the NYT method?

Do you use sourdough starter or instant yeast?

I am going to try a loaf with out improver soon. We are in need of bread so I have to bake something :) I'll see how I go.

 

Thanks for the encouragement Jim :)

 

Thegreenbaker 

 

 

jm_chng's picture
jm_chng

 : -) First off, this NYT guy didn't invent long rises. Bakers were using them a heck of a long time ago. I was first inspired to extend the rising time from 12 to 24 hrs back in the summer. I'd been using 8-12 hour rises for years as has many people using natural leaven. Before that when I used comm yeast 6 - 8 were the norm using a small amount of yeasted starter. This guy has just been 'journalised'. 

Okay getting off my soap box. : -) 
It doesn't matter what the hydration of your loaf is, 65% is about the minimum for the 'French Fold' but you can still Autolyse or Rest the dough with 60%. Don't go less than 60 unless you're doing bagels. Use small amounts of leaven. After mixing and a good rest work the dough in some way leave to double, part shape leave for 15mins shape a final time, leave to double and bake. It's that simple. I add nothing but water leaven and salt to my flour for basic lean bread like baguettes, ciabatta, sandwich. Home bakers really shouldn't put comm bakers on a pedestal and ape their techniques and ingredients. These additions only spoil the bread but increase profit. Profit isn't something we're after. 
What does the 'green' in you handle refer to?
Jim

Thegreenbaker's picture
Thegreenbaker

ok. well its 1am here so my eyes are a bit fuzzy and mybrain is there with them. SO I'll reread your instruction tomorrow. Thanks Jim :)

I know the NYT method wasnt "invented by that dude...well I found out after reading more here on the fresh loaf :)  I am interested in long rises so I will begin practicing next bath of bread I make..........also with out improver.  I'm making rustic bread ATM, so will wait till the next bath is needed. :)

 

The green stands for two things. :)  I am sooooo green and new to baking. hense the green baker....but also, my email address is greenmaiden and the green refers to my spiritual beliefs :)

 

 thanks again Jim. If I have any more queries about your technique I'll throw them your way :)  hope you dont mind :)

 

gnite! 

jm_chng's picture
jm_chng

: -) your next bath of bread, woah, you bake a lot of bread. : -) 

Thanks for the explanation. No, I don't mind, you ask away. 
Jim

danlepard's picture
danlepard

Where's your video Jim, is it still online somewhere?

plevee's picture
plevee

OK Floyd, it's still happening with the new site. When I try to see jm_chng's info to find this video I get a "you are not authorized to access this page" message. Is there some hierarchy of access I'm not privy to? Is it because I'm short/female/can't spell in American?


Patsy

Floydm's picture
Floydm

If it is just Jim's info you can't see it is because his account is closed.

plevee's picture
plevee

It wasn't his info as such, I was looking for the video that was mentioned. Does all the information that members contribute disappear when they relinquish membership, or only if they request it?  There is some great information in old posts & it would seem a shame to lose it.


Patsy

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Only if they request it or remove it themself.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Jim isn't here any longer but his and 2 other kneading methods can be found at this link. I started with the slap and fold method Jim introduced here 2 years ago and have improved by a better, more aggressive hand mixing and kneading method demonstrated by Mr. Bertinet ant Gourmet Magazine. With a plastic scraper and bowl anyone can make wonderful well developed dough. More importantly you will quickly learn what the dough should look and feel like when it is "right". I would encourage you to watch the Bertinet video a few times and become proficient at his method. He is showing a sweet dough but it works with everything.


Hope this helps.


Eric

danlepard's picture
danlepard

Thanks Eric, but it wasn't really the kneading so much as Jim's particular long rise. But thanks for the tip!


regards


Dan

Russ's picture
Russ

Jim's video is here. The link at the bottom of the page leads to the recipe with the long rise.