The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Question about adding "strange" ingredients to breads.

JesterPoet's picture

Question about adding "strange" ingredients to breads.

Hi all!  I'm new to the site, but I thought you all might be able to help me.


I've been doing a lot of bread baking, particularly out of Peter Reinhart's books (actually, primarily out of whole grain baking).  Lately, I've been interested in trying to add some more "unusual" ingredients to my breads, but I'm not sure how to compensate for them in the recipes.  I put unusual in quotes because they're only unusual in that the book doesn't really address them.  I want to add some cheeses and herbs primarily, though some things like spinach, etc. would also be nice. 


Like I said, though, I'm not sure how to compensate in the recipes for adding these ingredients.  Can anyone give me some direction?




yozzause's picture

Hi Todd and welcome

I guess the main thing about adding extras is to start off with a smallish amount and see if it has any adverse effect to your basic dough and if you like the result you can up the quantity. Remembering that your basic dough structure is going to have to carry the additives such as cheese and herbs. I once added some cabernet sauvignon to a dough when i was down in the premier grape growing district of Frankland and was going to give a loaf to a wine maker , that did have an adverse effect, a very similar effect that it has on me, it slowed the fermentation process right down. It did produce a very nice bread with a wonderfull colour to the crumb. I did joke that he need never through away any of his opened tasting bottles again, which brought a big smile to his face. With your sweet doughs usually halve the salt content to 1% because the dough has a high addition of fat and sugar which are going to have an effect on the fermentation. It really is a matter of trying and noting any changes to the basic dough that these additions have. good luck

Yerffej's picture

Take a look in The Italian Baker by Carol Field as it has a recipe for herb bread along the lines of what you are looking for.  It is a white flour bread but it will give you a good idea of working herbs into a recipe.


flournwater's picture

When I find some of those packaged mixes on sale at the market (you know, the kind that you might mix with creme cheese, yogurt or sour cream to make a dip) I pick some up and put about a teaspoon full in a one pound loaf of my bread.  It doesn't matter which bread recipe I'm using, as long as it doesn't include sugar as an ingrdient.  I make no adjustment for the addition; I  just add it to the dry ingredients I'm preparing.  If it contains salt I simply make an adjustment for the salt in the recipe.  Works very well and adds a nice variety to the fresh bread.  Tonight I made a baguette with the addition of basil and black pepper.  The loaf disappeared by the time dinner ended.

JesterPoet's picture

Wow!  Great ideas everyone!  Thanks for the suggestions!