The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

why do some breads have milk and oil in them

varda's picture

why do some breads have milk and oil in them

I know there is really no answer to the question of why certain formulae have certain ingredients, but still.   I have spent the last month or two making various Hamelman sourdough breads which basically have 4 ingredients - flour, water, starter and salt.   Then I decided I wanted to make whole wheat sandwich bread, so I have been reading about that, but when I actually picked one and started baking, I found myself messing around.   So I basically used a Hamelman type approach with sandwich bread ingredients.   That meant I added a bit of honey, powdered milk, and oil to a sourdough bread, but used starter and sourdough rise times and stretch and folds. and instead of baking in pans, I shaped as batards and cooked panless until crusty.   The results were really delicious - totally surprisingly so, since usually my messing around leads to nothing good.    So I understand what honey does, but I'm not sure what oil and milk do for bread, and why certain types of bread have them and others don't.   Any thoughts on this?  Thanks. -Varda

MichaelH's picture

Chapter 2 of Hammelman's Bread talks about ingredients and their functions. Pages 58 to 62 discuss milk and fats.

Good Luck.


mrfrost's picture

"Milk gives bread a more tender crust than water. You can use reconstituted instant dry milk powder or dry buttermilk powder found in the dry and canned milk area of your grocery store. I like to use fresh milk, such as whole milk, and buttermilk. Whole milk naturally contains both sugar and more fat than other milks and the bread's crust tends to brown more quickly and the loaf has more flavor...

FATS: Butter, olive oil and margarine are just some of the fats you can use to make a bread tender and moist; known as shorteners, they help to prevent the formation of excess gluten and increase the keeping qualities of a bread loaf, preventing it from drying out too quickly. Fats also add flavor and helps to increase loaf volume. Do not use light or tub margarines; if the first ingredient is water they will not work. Do not substitute oil for margarine/shortening unless the recipe calls for it. ..."

Other ingredients(enhancers, etc)

varda's picture

Thanks for the pointers.   I can see that I will have to read Hamelman cover to cover, and the baking911 site sounds like a great source.

Islandlakebaker's picture

No expert...  For me, milk makes a finer texture, more water makes a open crumb, oils add flavor and keeps my bread for an extra day from drying out, but are heavier if you will.  I never use margarine but will add butter or olive oil.  All will change the character of your dough.  My birds and squirels love me when my experiments fail!!  They are not picky eaters.

Varda, keep messing around!!!  It is how the perfect bread is found.  The journey makes it all the more sweet.



varda's picture

Greg, Yes indeed.   Since the breads I throw out into the back disappear so quickly and without a trace, I imagine that a coyote comes by and scarfs them up.   So I kind of agree and kind of not.   I find that if you have a really good book like Hamelman that there is a much higher percentage in trying to just do what he says.   But sometimes, despite the higher probability of failure, it seems that messing around is the only alternative, and I will definitely make that sourdough/sandwich bread thingy again since it came out so nicely.  -Varda