The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

bread dough enhancer

cw's picture

bread dough enhancer


I have just made a white loaf using a bread dough enhancer (lecithin granules, vit c and ginger) and noticed that the bread was softer, rose higher and had a more tender crust.  However I also noticed that its taste became more bland.  In other words, with the incorporation of these ingredients, the bread seems to have lost some taste.

Does anyone have similar experience? I wonder whether I should add more sugar when I use dough enhancer.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated!




Thank you for your responses.  My intent was to create a loaf with bakery-like quality.  Using these ingredients was a way of experimentation.  And no, I was not using a bread machine.  I agree that it is more natural and thus healthier to bake without enhancers, however, I did not anticipate resentment against using the ingredients.  And I apologize if I offended anyone by posing such question.  

The only ingredients used in the mix were lecithin, vit c and ginger.  Vit C is a nutrient, even if in supplementary form.  Ginger seems to be the grounded form of a spice regularly used (by many) in cooking.  So I would imagine that health concern must come from the use of lecithin.  What are the health dangers in using this?

Please note that the posting was only meant to open discussion on past experience with using these ingredients.  It is not an attempt to persuade anyone to use enhancers.  Thanks again.


I'm glad and grateful to see this wealth of information on this topic.  I appreciate everyone's input.  My conclusion is that substances with acetic acid, whether lemon juice, vit c, seem to tenderize the dough, but also reduce its flavour.  Lecithin, also in egg yolks, seem to enhance the performance of yeast, but may be harmful to the body as there seems to be strict health regulation.  The effects are consistent with what I observed from my own experimentation.  Whether the benefits justify the costs is to each his own.  On learning from you; however, I feel much less compelled on conducting further trials.  As my goal was to produce bread with bakery-like quality, I found most insight from a point made that commercial bakeries use high energy dough mixers with powerful kneading functionality that give the dough that special texture and also a super fast processing time.  Perhaps there would be no way for me to replicate such effects at home so maybe I should stop trying.  I should have stated my purpose at the beginning and its good that it was questioned otherwise I would not have gotten such relevant information.  Much thanks to all you bakers for your valuable information.  I'll keep these points in mind in the future.


I appreciate all the additional tidbits and advice, especially more info on ginger.

FYI, the "enhancer" I used in experiment was as follows:

    * 1 cup lecithin granules
    * 1 tablespoon fruit fresh (or vitamin C powder)
    * 1 tablespoon ginger (ground)

Used in the proportion of about 1 Tbsp per 3 cups of flour.


The information on the effects of different ingredients is very interesting.  Regardless of stance on the use of any "enhancers", I think it is useful to know about the effects of their composition. If I had known more about these and where they came from, I could have used natural food products instead for example, replace lecithin with egg yolk, vit c with lemon juice, ginger powder with fresh ginger.  Now, if those ingredients were substituted into the recipe, I wonder if it would still be considered an "enhanced" dough.  Maybe the item and quantity used also play major role in each person's definition of a "dough enhancer" and an acceptable ingredient....some food for thought.




ananda's picture

Hi CW,

I'm uncertain what your baking aims are.   I don't know why you want to use improvers really.   You might as well just buy bread from the supermarket, as this type of bread is designed to be produced industrially.   If this is the sort of loaf you want, you will never out-do the mechanised manufacturers.

Why not just go back to proper long fermentation instead of fancy functional additives and chemicals, and undeclared enzymes?

Best wishes


copyu's picture

I have no answers for you, only more questions...

Why do you need to add sugar to bread dough? How much salt do you use? What is the purpose of adding lecithin? Vit C? How long is your primary fermentation?

Final question—are you using a "bread machine", by any chance?

Sorry I couldn't help, but best wishes,


EvaGal's picture

Some packaged yeasts have a bit of "enhancer" already mixed in.(see SAF Gourmet Perfect Rise Yeast with Ascorbic Acid {Vitamin C} available at Trader Joe's Stores)  Years ago, I learned that Vitamin C improved the loaf, so I took one of my husband's pills, crushed it with mortar and pestle and kneaded it in with the flour.  The loaf was improved indeed!  I don't do it nowadays because I suspect these pills are an expensive ingredient and my husband believes the Vitamin C is extending his life and would miss them if I took too many.


copyu's picture

Thanks very much for the response.

I'm very well aware of ascorbic acid flour 'enhancement' (but I was not aware that it was ALSO sometimes added to yeast; so, we live and we learn!) My *real* question was why the original poster thought he needed to add it to his dough.

I have a huge library of baking books (including those by most of the 'great' bakers of the current age) and there is not a single index entry for "Vitamin C", "Ascorbic Acid" or even "Enhancement" when they discuss formulae or methods.

Under "enriched" flours we find that ascorbic acid is one of the most recently-approved [permitted?] additions to US flour. For what purpose? Oxidizing and bleaching? Or just to improve "loaf volume" [...suspected, but not actually proven, I notice. Heheheh!] The reason for my question was to determine HOW MUCH ascorbic acid was used.

Recommended addition, according to my sources is: 1/4 teaspoon per Cwt [=112 pounds(!)] of flour. A good US "pinch" (or 1/8 teaspoon) would do for over 50 lbs of again, I ask: WHY?



PS: I take about 2000 mg vitamin C supplement every day, at the insistence of my wife, even though I'm not sure it really does anything important. I researched the use of it in bread dough for a long time and gave it a miss, so I've never tried it. I'd like to know if it's useful in bread dough and, if so, why. copyu    

ananda's picture

Hi Copyu,

In UK legislation, these additives are permitted at certain levels which are measured in parts per million [ppm] on flour [this would be weight-based!].

L-Ascorbic Acid can be added at upto 200ppm, and L-Cysteine diHydrochloride at 75ppm.   The former results in strengthening of the dough as an oxidiser which encourages the formation of cross-bonds interlinking the gluten network.   The latter starts to break down this protein network.   Elasticity in the first instance, then extensibility; all very quickly and powerfully.

The true skill surely lies in being able to do this naturally using skill and knowledge and judgement based on experience, no?   You and I might call it complex fermentation; it takes TIME!   That's my quest in making bread.   I want to know what all the fancy chemicals do, as that aids my understanding of many of the principles involved.   But I have absolutely no desire to use them in the bread which I produce with craft and care for our household enjoyment and appreciation.

I would encourage all members of the site to adopt similar levels of value to their hard work and effort.

Best wishes


copyu's picture

...for the detailed answer.

Jeffrey Hamelman in "Bread" discusses how difficult it is to use ascorbic acid 'correctly', sometimes leading to "high elasticity and zero extensibility". That doesn't sound like much of an 'improvement' to risk if you're going to attempt to shape your dough after mixing. (That's why I wondered whether the original poster was, perhaps, using a bread machine.)

BTW, Hamelman also states that ascorbic acid is often added at the mill in the USA at around 20 ppm and that the experienced baker might add the same again to really "green" flour at the bakery. Still (assuming his numbers are correct) with the mill's addition and the baker's, that totals only 10 teaspoonsful for every ton (tonne) of flour!

Maybe I started with the "wrong" books? You know, all those warnings about over-mixing and mechanical oxidation of the flour and destruction of the few remaining carotenes in unbleached flours...yet I can buy a half-loaf of over-processed supermarket sliced white bread for under 90 cents...'good' bread in Japan costs 10 times that for a full loaf.

My home-baking goals are similar to yours, even though it's quite expensive to achieve them, here. I'm still wondering what CW's baking goals are...



Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete


I too used a bread enhancer ...........ONCE.............that was enough for me. Both my wife and I thought I may as well go and buy a standard commercial loaf off the supermarket shelf.

If you are using a bread mix flour instead of a all purpose flour you should not need it............everthing is pre mixed for you.


coolkev's picture

Now everybody knows they can never ask a question about dough enchancers.


I think there is nothing wrong with experimenting with ingredients. I think it might have been good if someone had advised CW that if he improves his technique he won't need any stinking dough enchancers.

I'm new to the group and I'm thinking CW probably is also. I'll bet it's going to be a good while before CW asks for advice again.

I'm disappointed, from hanging around here for a while I thought most everybody was pretty cool. Oh well.

EvaGal, you had the best line of the evening. I almost laughed out load. Thanks.



copyu's picture

Why do you think people will NOT discuss dough enhancers? And why do you think CW won't ask any questions for a while?

###CW, thanks for the further information. I didn't see that you had edited your original post until the middle of the day (here in Japan.) This is my first chance to reply.###

If you guys are new, then I feel slightly remiss for not saying "Welcome to TFL" but I'm also a bit of a 'newbie' around here and I feel it's not really my place to do that—but a sincere welcome from me, anyway!

This place is one of the coolest, friendliest, most helpful places on the planet to discuss ANYTHING related to bread and a bit beyond bread, too...I consider it the best "baking forum" around [and there have been some very cool threads about general cookery, as well. I'm NOT saying that that's OK—it's not for me to decide, but I'm glad it was permitted by this lovely community of bakers...]

If I posted the question: "Why is my grandma's bread better than mine, since we both use the same recipe?" it's going to raise many red flags and, usually, a polite request from someone to post (or link to? 21st century! Heheheh!) the formula (recipe). In addition, there will be MANY questions about MANY subjects. Remember this is an INTERNATIONAL forum on the INTERNET!

If you were trying to answer my question, you'd probably want to know if 'granny' and I lived in the same hemisphere, at least...Do you know what I mean?

Warmest regards and welcome!



EvaGal's picture

I'm so glad to see so much input on this topic. TFL awakes! I appreciate the scientific information that explains the chemical interactions of the ingredients. Wouldn't it be fascinating to see a video of bread rising with the camera inside the loaf and compare the action of different recipes? 

Some folks, like me, react to ascorbic and citric acid whether in bread, mayonnaise, soup, herbal teas, or even pills; apparently it tips the scale way to far to the acid side in the digestive system and results in gastric pain. Sometimes staying away from vitamin C supplements will enhance your life!


Yippee's picture


I made a much more complex, in fact 'super' as listed, version of bread enhancer while testing my then newly owned Zojirushi.  The results were mixed and didn't seem to be very promising.  It cost me close to a hundred bucks to get almost (but still not) all the ingredients.  It's not economically wise but I was very curious what it would do.  I'm sure you feel the same, too.

It's very natural to set your baking goals to level with bakery/supermarket breads at first.  But as you advance, you'll realize your home-made loaves CAN outperform bakery/supermarket breads without using any dough enhancer and you'll never look back again.

As an immediate solution to your 'enhanced' bland loaves, try using sourdough starters which will lend plenty of flavors to your breads.  Good luck and happy baking.


ananda's picture

Sorry, to read your response coolkev; I cannot find myself agreeing to your sentiments.

Firstly, thank you to CW for clarifying certain key points.   I will address these shortly.Meantime, this is a forum topic, and it should be expected that a posting will generate debate and discussion, and that not everybody will agree on everything written.   That is the point of such discussion, surely?   I've read through the postings and cannot find anything remotely offensive or dismissive in what has been written.   This topic is far from closed, and I totally disagree that no one can ever ask a question about "dough enhancers" again.

Maybe I can clarify one aspect of my original responses above to CW?   I am UK based, and I have not seen "dough enhancers" available in retail outlets over here.   We do have various types of "bread mixes", and they contain the types of additives I was discussing above.   In itself, I agree that vitamin 'C' is a nutrient, and probably relatively harmless.   Nonetheless, it is subject to use at certain permissable levels in the UK, and my posting this specific information was meant to inform any readers here.   I am quite entitled to opinions, as is anybody else posting here.   If you disagree with the information I publish, then please say so.

I'm not aware of ginger being used to condition dough, so don't feel I should comment.   Regarding lecithin, this is an emulsifier, which would doubtlessly have been produced from GMO soya.   Whilst I recognise this process has been more accepted in the US, it continues to be viewed with suspicion in Europe, and the legislators have so far chosen not to allow GMO foods open access to foodmarkets.   Lecithin is, however, found as a natural, and key component, in the egg yolk.   In terms of function, lecithin is an emulsifier, which binds in moisture, keeping the crumb soft, and contributing to final loaf volume.   Other emulsifiers are more commonly used, commercially, particularly datem ester.   Again, legislators in the EU have set levels considered to be maximum safe amounts to be added.   Addition above these levels would be regarded as chemical contamination of food, and commercial companies would be prosecuted for such contravention.

Yes, EvaGal's comment had a funny line to it; but there is a serious point.   Just exactly how do you know how much vitamin 'C' is being added by crushing up one of these tablets, and adding it to the dough?   200ppm equates to 0.02%; the equivalent of 20g of vitamin 'C' for every 10kg, or, 10000g of flour.   So these are pretty powerful substances.

CW, thank you for your clarifications.   I did try and answer your question about these ingredients as best I could, based on the question before me, and my own knowledge of the topic.   Any resentment of these ingredients is based on the sound knowledge I provided in the answer.   I am very grateful you raised the topic, I hope the discussion continues, and that you get all the answers you need from the thread.   I also hope lots of people, including me, can learn new things from the thread discussion.   There is certainly no need to apologise to me.   I have not taken any offence, and I hope you have not been offended by my repies to your question; certainly none intended.

The most helpful I can be now, is to explain there is another key area to the production of the type of loaves you mention.   Most of this bread is made using high-speed mixers, which mix the dough using measured energy input [generally c.11 Watt hours/kg of dough].   The intensity of the mixing process is what brings about dough reduction; thus inducing the necessary extensibility in the dough to allow for "no time" processing.   This is a key accompaniment to the use of ascorbic acid to strengthen the dough in the same mixing phase.   High energy mixing tends to bleach out the carotenoid pigment in the flour, making the finished bread blander still.

I hope there is more useful information here

Best wishes


copyu's picture

...from the science search words were: "ppm ascorbic acid in flour" so you can check the literature for yourselves. I'd read a lot of this stuff ages ago, when trying to work out if Vitamin C  was helpful in home baking. I decided it (probably) wasn't

It seems it's NOT a nutrient in bread; it's very difficult to use at home, or even in a professional bakery; it can very badly affect dough structure; MAXIMUM level is 60 ppm [0.006% of dough weight] even when combined with other 'conditioners' 

I also read that, while ascorbic acid is an anti-oxidant compound in fruits, it is a strong oxidizer in bread flour, due to enzyme action in the wheat; furthermore, that even though it's an 'acid' when you add it, the reaction is so quick, it will NOT affect the pH of your dough, except in a bad way. By preventing the good, tasty acids from forming, it acts as an alkali. Go figure!  

"Contrary to the influence with which it has often been credited, ascorbic acid has practically no influence at all on the development of bread flavor. Since it can accelerate the maturation of the dough and thus permits a reduction in the length of fermentation, ascorbic acid can indirectly limit the formation of organic acids, which contribute to the development of the taste of bread. Thus, the improper use of ascorbic acid may somewhat handicap the full development of bread taste." "It should be pointed out that ascorbic acid is destroyed by heat in the course of the baking process and that no trace of it remains in the finished bread." "Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) has not been used much in flour in the United States until recently. Many European countries that do not allow potassium bromate have been adding ascorbic acid for decades. A miller will generally add from 20 to 40 ppm ascorbic acid for general baking...In Canada, the maximum permitted is 200 ppm, which is more than any miller would want, or could afford, to add." 'Flour and bread made with ascorbic acid must be labeled as containing: "ascorbic acid added as a dough conditioner". This labeling statement is required to differentiate its addition as an improver from that of a nutrient. Since ascorbic acid is destroyed in the baking process, its addition as a flour improver will not increase the ascorbic acid content of bread, which will remain at zero, or less than 2% of daily need.' "Flour treatments and additives applied at the flour mill allow the miller to improve and control the appearance, nutritional content and baking quality of different flours. These treatments involve micro quantities that would be difficult or inconvenient for the baker to apply. Modern, electronically controlled mitling(? sic) equipment now allow these ingredients to be added very accurately and reliably. Rapid spot tests combined with new liquid chromatographic procedures provide the means to assess their levels in flour."
"...evaluation showed that adding L-Ascorbic acid up to 60 ppm increased volume...but increasing more than 60ppm decreased those scores. It may result from gluten disruption...causing worse dough characteristics ... dough was unable to retain gas during fermentation ... Adding L-Ascorbic acid over 60ppm gave an inverse effect (less bread volume)" Perhaps, in another post, I'll tell you what the professional bakers say about vitamin C in bread dough. (They don't mention it much, though, so it'll be a very short post) Best to all and warm regards, copyu
gary.turner's picture

Except for the ginger, about which I have not a clue other than it supposedly has health benefits, the other additives have uses in bread making. 

Leicithin, an emulsifier found in egg yolks, helps to create a softer crumb, and increases shelf life.  I think I'd add another egg rather than buy lecithin for the purpose.  I do make enriched breads (with eggs, butter and milk) for day to day sandwich making and toast, and I do like a soft bread for that.

Lecithin does provide some protection to the yeast should you freeze your dough.

Ascorbic acid is an anti-oxident and will help prevent oxidation damage to the bread with its resulting off tastes.  I can see using it to lower the pH a bit during the ferment, though citric acid would probably be better if my brewing experience has any validity; mashing and the (pre)ferment having similar purposes and chemistry.  Better yet, switch to buttermilk to increase the acidity.

Ascorbic acid is used at a rate of ½tsp per 5gal batch of beer as a preservative; which would take about 8–10 lbs of fully converted grain. Say an eigth tsp for a 2lb. batch of dough.



ananda's picture

Hi Gary,

As with you I can't help with ginger.

Regarding ascorbic acid, the primary reason for inclusion, is in connection with oxidation as you say.   However, this is because the improver works to strengthen the cross-bonds which form in the gluten matrix, in what is known as the disulphide interchange.   You are right, other ingredients would be used as a preservative, though not citric acid, as that would break down the dough structure too much.   Acetic acid, or, vinegar would be common, so too calcium propionate; in confectionery potassium sorbate is used.

I think I've been pretty explicit about lecithin as an emulsifier and the benefits of its inclusion.

Best wishes


EvaB's picture

my last bag of Roger's whole wheat (live in Canada) said to use a Tablespoon of lemon juice to enhance the bread dough, its supposed to make it better and raise better, so as lemon juice is full of ascorbic acid otherwise known as vita C maybe they know what they are talking about. After all part of the sour in sour dough is from acids developed by the starter.

ananda's picture

Hi EvaB,

A good suggestion, so long as the dose is carefully controlled.

A more major component in lemon juice is citric acid.

This will break down the strength of the gluten and give a more extensible dough: hence it's use is quite common in puff pastry doughs.

However, overdosing on citric acid would have catastrophic results, as the proteins would become de-natures, and the dough structure would collapse.

Best wishes


EvaB's picture

but as I would follow the recipe (my cooking or baking without recipes sometimes suffers catastrophe) its definitely a controlled amount.

I do understand the wish to produce bread without chemicals in theroy, but then again, you can say that any bread is the result of a chemical reaction in some way!

I am not for enhancers or against them, but think that they might help with my less than stellar breads, and will try the lemon juice and see how it goes. Since the bag was whole wheat flour I can't see the flavour being too awful and I usually add a small amount of rye, and buckwheat flours (husband has diverticulosis and is on high fibre diet) it certainly won't make it a bland white loaf.

ehanner's picture

CW, I'm glad you didn't ask "What is the meaning of life?" No telling what the replies would look like. :>)

Does anyone have similar experience? I wonder whether I should add more sugar when I use dough enhancer. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

You have asked a very very specific question about something most of us don't use. Sorry.


Dillbert's picture

organic chemistry was never my forte - and I have no formal baking training - so regrettable when folks in the know start talking about things like oxidizing the dough, I understand the words - but have no clue what it means in real life. 

in searching to duplicate some of the good European/German breads I stumbled across the fact that some bakeries use some flours that have all kinds of additives.  some are easy to 'reject' - anit-fungus stuff, preservatives, etc.

but ascorbic acid was listed - so after looking high and low for the hows, whys and wherefores, and 'dosage' - about all I found was industrial citations on how varioius additives reduced the energy required to mix 50,000 lb batches of dough, etc etc.  frankly, not my issue.

if I was going to learn anything, it would be by experiment.  so I did.

being potentially more lazy than the next baker, I'm fond of the no-knead breads - and I was specifically not satisfied with the 'loft' I was getting.  ascorbic acid is supposed to 'relax' the dough - mebbe it would rise more?  no clue - I simply don't know what a relaxed dough does differently.

after rejecting tens of dollars for Vitiman C pills at the health food place theory, I got some "Fresh Fruit" - a color/freshness preserver/product intended for canning. 

first thing to note is:  it is not "pure" ascorbic acid.  by weight the first ingredient is dextrose, then ascorbic acid.

so I settled on working with the classic 430 gram KA bread flour / 345 grams water + yeast + salt no-knead recipe; same batch of flour, same pot, same oven, kept notes, same scale, same rise time (I do 18 hrs + 2 after 'forming' if no-knead can be descirbed as 'formed'...) similar atmospheric/temp conditions, used a timer . . . you get the drift - repeating as precisely as I could.

started with 1/4 teaspoon.  too much; bread interior was too moist - and stayed that way - even after cooling and slicing.  no recorded comments on flavor - but to note:  with my peanut gallery, a fresh loaf of bread can disappear in under 30 minutes.

I now use the pointy backside of a teaspoon handle to 'measure' - probably 1/8 tsp or less - I have nothing to weigh such small qtys.  keeping in mind it's more than half dextrose - effectively 1/16 tsp of ascorbic acid.

the other issue is:  heh - it's a no-knead recipe! - so I stir it around the bowl with the yeast & salt before adding the water.  at a ppm level, can't possibly be 'evenly dispersed'

after about 8 loaves experimenting I settled on that method - it works - I get nice loft - fills the pot to the lid (4+inches,) no gummy interior, no off flavors.

I have no quibble with the purists who prefer 'other' means / methods - I can only share my first hand experience - and also be aware your own techniques / baking containers / methods / flours / etc. could all play a part in making it more or less better.

gary.turner's picture

Get it at your local homebrew supplier. Their prices are high, ≈$22-23 per pound, but that's retail packaging.  Larger amounts, say 3lb are available at ≈12./lb.  These are ascorbic acid crystals/powder. 



SteveB's picture

Organic chemistry is my forte.  I've never used dough additives (I hesitate to call these ingredients 'enhancers' or 'improvers') and I have no plans to ever do so.  They are just not necessary.  If a situation is encountered that would lead one to believe that the use of a dough additive is warranted, I would first suggest re-examining the quality of one's ingredients or technique.




ananda's picture

Well Eric, just nailed it.

There is absolutely no need to use either sugar, or, dough enhancer.

I'm surprised to read the recent posts.....and, dare I say it, "disappointed".

Enjoy the experimentation, and really sorry you didn't seem to be interested in the technical information offered.

Happy teaspooning!


La masa's picture
La masa

I did some experimentation with ascorbic acid for a very simple reason: I had a flour with weak gluten and  very low P/L (Too much extensibility with little elasticity), but it had a really great flavour. The ascorbic acid did have a strenghtening effect on the gluten and improved the dough, but the bread was less tasteful. So I don't use it anymore, it's pointless to improve a flour with great flavour at the cost of lessening the flavour.

Daisy_A's picture

Hi cw,

I think you nail it in your second comment, when you say that this is a debate about bread 'health', as well as taste.

It also seems to me that your key question was how to improve the quality of your white bread and that enhancers was only one possible approach? I see what you are saying about bakery bread only taking on its characteristics after mixing at high speed, but it also relies on lots of additives - see below,

Maybe there are other places to look for answers to this question?  You may have seen this TFL thread, but it also deals with how to produce airy white bread with fewer additives than store bought bread? It includes recipes from websites and also baking books, such as the Bread Maker's Apprentice. My apologies if you are aware of this already and fair play to you for being so ready to take feedback.

As for health, even your short period of experimentation shows that once you have added one set of additives to dough, it can then lead to adding others to counteract the effects of the first, i.e. sugar to counter blandness of taste. This can mimic bread health, while actually decreasing it - better rise, less taste, as you and La masa note.

Give your bread one 'pill' or alter the way it is made or the flour used and it may, as said, mimic the qualities of a healthy loaf, but you may also need to give it another 'pill' to counteract the side effects of the first change, then another, then another. When this is done commercially the list can be as long as your arm. Here is the list for Wonder Bread from

    By the way I'm not suggesting that anyone who adds anything to bread is like some sort of mad doctor, who can't stop doping the dough! I've added oils, spices, butter to breads when the recipe and tradition called for it. However, if 'bakery-style' bread is the aim, isn't it worth knowing what it takes to produce such bread? As Andy and others note, many bread additives, naturally-derived or otherwise, can have very potent effects in very small doses. In the end, also, as EvaGal and others indicate, what we put into our bread, we put into ourselves.

    I hope your exploration goes well, cw, and that you can bake the good, tasty bread that you are looking for.    Kind regards,  Daisy_A

    Dillbert's picture

    Andy - not sure if you were responding specifically to my post - but for clarification my experimenting took place a long time before I found this forum.

    I also find it curious that folks who have never tried it, never used it, never intend to use it - can be so expert in what happens when it is used.

    it is also curious that so many folks who have been to Europe rave about how good the breads are.  if one talks to the baker(s) - as I have, up close and personal, at length - go behind the scenes and look at the flours they are using and write down what's in the flour, all that tasty wonderful bread has additives.  the places I went were small family operations - the 'village bakery' - not someone milling their own flour from their own wheat and not a 'factory' turning out thousands of loaves an hour.

    technical information related in this thread support the assertion that some ascorbic acid is good; too much is bad.  one could make a point that the same theory applies to yeast and salt.

    I set out to improve the loft of my no-knead loaves as I make them, and it works for me, so at least I'm a happy heretic

    EvaB's picture

    about the rabid diatribe against the enhancers, and the raving about the best breads are European bakery etc, its funny how SNOBBISH that sounds, and yet there was a lot of good information given along with the raves and disgust.

    I am just looking to make good bread, the simplist way possible that my body will handle, and long preferments, fiddling with dough for three or four hours and then baking loaves of "PERFECT" sour dough is not exactly my forte, I may try some sour dough starter and will use it, but its going to be on my terms, not on what others think I should be doing.

    My whole family is a contrayian to te bone. My mother made sour dough starter and sure didn't feed it on a 12 hour schedule, she fed it when she used it which was every day, she didn't baby it to get it going, she mixed water, flour and stirred it with a poplar twig snapped of the tree in the garden, used it the next day for the best pancakes ever, and continued to use it for as long as I would eat pancakes for breakfast. Over a year.

    While I am enjoying hte forum and the information gleaned from here, they is a whole lot of this is the ONLY way going on too.

    BerniePiel's picture

    virtues were not discussed enough........Candied ginger in scones is fabulous.  Pete the great cook and cafe manager at the San Francisco Art Institute made them once per week and within 15 minutes they were gone.  I've made them at home and do not have a specific recipe for them.  Actually if you make scones or have a recipe that adds fruit or another type solid ingredient, just substitute the candied ginger.  The taste is an explosive rush of goodness in your mouth that is unforgetable.  Delicious with hot black coffee on a rainy day.  I think I'll be smelliing ginger scones baking in the morning.  Happy Baking everyone.

    Bernie Piel

    doughboy82's picture

    im am dear i say it a commercial mass producing baker, or plant baker.

    When CW mentioned she wanted bakery quality products and s/he ventured into dough enhancers i knew they where in for truoble asking on this site.

    I am fortunate to be allowed ingredients from work to try at home and throughout my training we have used a lecithen (sp) improver. this improver is premixed with acsorbic acid and a few other natural enzymes that help improve bread quality.

    ascorbic acid cannot be claimed as ingredient as it loses it vitamin function during processing (according to a glossary i have)

    if CW is after bakery quality products they are nearly there, i do wonder what the percentage was that they used.

    full fat soya flour is an alternative to lecithen and improves crumb stability and colour

    improvers and enzymes help combine the oil and water together along with delivering more natural sugars for the dough, now i dont see people complainging about more sugars available for the yeast.

    not to sure if CW added sugar but i wouldnt go above 2%, 

    as for the post on potassium bromate, it is illlegal in new zealand and has been for a long time, i had to research why potassium bromate was banned for a baking competition and i will not comment to much on this apart from scientists feed rats this is unrealistic quantities and they developed cancer, the 'officials' freaked at this information and was banned. Adhoc stories from work from when it was used it was dangerous and if mixed wrongly was explosive, now that is really improving a bakery by burning it to the ground lol

    EvaB's picture

    that burning the bakery down is not the best. Bakeries are dangerous places, we used to have a flour mill in our town in the late 30's early 40's and it caught fire and burned, we've had several grain elevators burn from grain dust ignition, so just bear that in mind when gleefully sifting flour and the stuff is clouding up your specs!

    I say the less junk in bread the better, but hey its up to us to decide what is and what is not junk, and one man's (or woman's) junk is another's enhancer.

    EvaB's picture

    ginger in the recipe is ground, but I'm with you, preserved ginger makes any day a better day.

    I buy mine at the healthfood store, it goes in Christmas cakes, although it usually takes two bags of half pound each to get the 6 tablespoons needed for the triple batch of cakes. Thats finely chopped! The rest of the stuff rarely makes it into the kitchen! Never thought of making scones with it, but then again I'm not a scone fan, but will have to try that out.

    TuzaHu's picture

    new to this group but not to bread baking.  Ground Ginger is very beneficial to stimulate yeast growth.  Other items that can be used in an inhanser is pectin (as used for jams/jellies) and geletin (unflavored) both which capture the moisture and hold it in the bread to keep it moist. 

    When using 100% whole wheat or mixing whole wheat and white wheat I'll add enhansers to make a lighter loaf.  lecithin adds to the texture, malt to the texture to form the loaf, vita c, ginger for yeast growth, gelatin and pectin and there is a wonderful whole wheat loaf done.  I don't add enhansers to white bread or sourdough bread, no need to.

    as for the enhansers not being what the forefathers of breadmaking used, I bet if they had enhansers available they would have!  Just as they would loved to have gone to Kroger and bring home a bag of flour rather than stone grind it at the waterwheel for a fee and cart the flour home strapped to the back of their donkey, chop the wood, build the fire and bake all night and day.  They used what was available.

    In 50 years using a bread machine will be old fashioned.

    Mini Oven's picture
    Mini Oven

    I think the ginger has more to do with the Yin><Yang  wolistic idea of food.  Yin><Yang representing the opposite yet complementary forces in the universe.  Adding this to the dough during Winter and Summer to "balance" the intake of foods consumed during those seasons.   Ginger being of the Yang typical foods.

    Just an idea... as you nibble your pickled ginger root.

    I had also read that ginger is often boiled and dried to prevent rapid fermentation... and for me buds an interesting thought.  In my kitchen fresh Ginger tends to grow before it ferments but if it speeds fermentation, that would place it under "dough enhancement."  

    Here is the scoop on ginger as a dough enhancer:


    hanseata's picture

    When I read some posts in this discussion I feel very much the European part of my dual citizenship. All these additives are put into the foods to make them look and smell better, shorten the production time and give them a longer shelf life, in other words: make their production cheaper.

    All these benefits are exclusively for the producers and the sellers, not for the consumers. Unfortunately many European bakers use prefabricated baking mixes, too, but some additives are either not permitted or allowed in much smaller quantities. And even if one single additive might not be harmful - where was it ever tested what (long term) effect on our health the combination of all those substances has?









    Mini Oven's picture
    Mini Oven

    the best I can.  CW, I like your approach!

    One can easily see that there is an ongoing pressure for us to choose cheaper and less healthy foods under the pretense of being modern or healthy when just the opposite is true.  The more I read about carbohydrates, fructose, uric acid, sugar, rises in heart, kidney and metabolic deseases, the more I feel hoodwinked.  The food that truly is good for us, rarely gets the same advertising, it doesn't need it, we know it is good for us, don't we?   "Ideal" images are powerful sellers.

    The Pictures painted in our heads of what constitutes "good bread" has been so manipulated by advertising, that additions of dough enhancers has to be done to achieve this ideal.  The truth is, it doesn't.  Change the ideal!  Dough ingredients and Bread is what your individual truth may be.   As one learns about foods, one makes individual choices.  If I can get along without a dough enhancer, I don't use it.  If I need it, and it is real food, I may use it.  If it helps the flavor, why not?  If it doesn't, or the ingredient is questionable, then forget it. 

    A lot of different methods can be done on the flour to change its flavor: long or short fermentations, addition of fermented dough, retarding the dough in cooler environments, using warmer environments, roasted flour, less yeast, more yeast, combining different flours, adding whole grains, or canned grains, addition of vegitables, herbs, & enhancers just to name a few.

    Also the technique of putting the dough together can change flavor:  presoaks, epoxied doughs, altus additions, bigas, sourdoughs, slow mixing of flours, fast stirring, no stirring, mixing all the flours together before wetting them, separate additions of flour, order of flour additions,  rolling the dough in various flours, folding, slapping, kneading.  Airy crumb, dense crumb, even medium crumb, the same loaf recipe with various crumbs can also taste different.  Amazing!  Then there is the baking technique... wood oven, gas, electric, no steam, with steam, covered, open, high heat, low heat, middle heat, what was last baked in the oven.  All can change the end flavor of the bread.  Whew!

    Over time ideals change, due to changing advertising, even here in Austria.  I've seen it happen and observe it today, an image is pushed thru advertising until it becomes knowledge.  Maybe it is easier for me to observe because I slip in and out of the country over longer periods of time.  Maybe because I know many of the tools used in advertising to trick and manipulate ideals.  (My favorite exercise when looking at an advert is to separate the product from the background.)  With the take overs by Chain bakeries, quality has been loosing ground.   The quality just can't be matched without some sort of sacrifice if prices of bread are to stay low while the prices of fuel and ingredients rise.  That is a true quality killer.  Unfortunately the devoted Baker (at home and professionly) makes the greatest sacrifice if quality is not to suffer.

    I gave a link, to bread 101, and a list of natural enhancers is listed.  CW, I know you've been there.  I suggest to other readers, not only to work on your own perceptions of what is "good bread" but if you must use an enhancer, use one that you normally have in your kitchen foodstuffs (but not from under the sink)  and don't be afraid to try ideas! 

    Mini Oven

    Jaydot's picture

    ... agree more :).

    hanseata's picture

    with different ingredients, but I get suspicious when I learn that enhancers are only added to benefit the producers of a product - enhancing its otherwise non existing (or even bad) smell and taste, enhancing its otherwise unappealing look, and, of course, enhancing its supermarket longevity.

    And how often do we hear in the news that a supplement or drug once promoted for it's great health benefits in the longterm proved to be not only beneficial but downright harmful.



    sagharbormo's picture

    Yet Karin, many people here are producers of baked goods for their families and use enhancers (salt, lemon, lecithin, etc) in their quest to make the best product for their loved ones. They would like their product to look good with wonderful, burnished color and lovely, decorative slashes, great rise, etc. Of course I would support anyone wanting their product to have good shelf life. I never have much problem with shelf life as my loaves are gone all too quckly.
    That being said, I have a friend who buys a loaf of Wonder Bread, the only bread she likes, every two weeks and she told me it sometimes lasts just fine for three weeks; no mould, no green fuzz, no white hairs! Truly a wonder.

    cmkrause's picture

    I stopped buying bread years ago after finding a loaf of Maier's Italian bread in a cabinet two months after my son (who loved his Maier's Italian) left for Iraq.  There were no signs that this loaf was going to die anytime soon...also, no mold, fuzz, white hairs, or off aroma.  It put the fear of all things "preservative" into me.  I just prefer not to add anything but flour, water and salt to my loaves...and maybe some olive oil when the mood strikes.  But that's just me!

    gary.turner's picture

    Here's Jefferson Airplane's take on preservatives:

    Eat Starch Mom-1972 wrote:
    You say nothing's right but natural things
    Ah, you fool
    Poison oak is a natural plant
    Why don't you put some in your food
    Natural food makes you slow and stupid and it tastes like pablum
    I don't care if there's chemicals in it
    As long as my lettuce is crisp
    Preservatives might be preserving you
    Ah, I think that's something you might have
    Oh I think you might have missed it
    Ya you missed it