The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Milk sourdough bread question

Vtg79's picture

Milk sourdough bread question


I am going to be baking my first sourdough with milk with this recipe:

While the levain builds up, I have a few questions.

Do you warm, heat or scalding the milk before mixing in the final dough? How is it expected to affect the recipe? What is better?

For the Levin, I used cold milk directly out of the refrigerator & it seems to be rising well. I am using pasteurized and homogenized milk (not uht).

Ford's picture



Whether to scald milk or not for yeast breads has been a controversial subject.  For years, I have not bothered to scald pasteurized milk. I am now convinced that some of my less than perfect breads may well have been due to the excessive amount of something in the milk that prevents the gluten from forming.  The “experts” believe that scalding fresh milk or using a “hot processed” powdered milk is best.  King Arthur offers a product called “Baker’s Special Dry Milk” that is produced by the high temperature method.  Thus, in the recipes in the Yeast Bread Chapter and in the Sourdough Chapter, we have called for the use of scalded milk rather just pasteurized milk.

Zoe Ann Holmes (Emeritus Professor, Nutrition and Food Management, Oregon State University) writes “there is an element in milk that can weaken gluten.  Food scientists aren't sure what it is yet (as of 2006), but suspect it's a protein in the milk that acts somewhat as a protease. Heating the milk to 198 F (92 C) inactivates the element -- whatever it is.  If left active, the bread will be coarser and less risen than one made with scalded milk.”[1]

Dan DiMuzio[2]writes, ”We know what the fragment is she's referring to -- it is the glutathione…”

He writes in another thread.[3]  “You can make great bread with or without scalding your milk.  But scalding will deactivate the glutathione in the milk.  If you deactivate the glutathione, the loaf will have, at least, somewhat better height.  That doesn't mean that using non-scalded milk gives you unacceptable height -- but there's at least some difference.  You as the baker get to decide whether or not this matters to you.

“Glutathione is a whey protein fragment that works like protease does (in its visible effects, anyway) to weaken protein bonds, and to some degree disassemble them.  High-heat dry milk is manufactured specifically for professional bakers who want the convenience of using a dried product AND because they know it was held at 190F for 30 minutes before the drying process takes place. The glutathione is actually (like enzymes) not a living thing, but merely a catalyst for chemical reactions, and when treated this way it will no longer affect the gluten bonds.

“Pasteurization for fresh milk is limited to about 161°F for 15 seconds or more.  Its purpose is to kill most of the live microbes in the milk, but it has no effect at all on the glutathione.  There is an Ultra-High-Temperature (UHT) pasteurization process that holds other dairy products at about 280°F for just 2 seconds, and that would probably deactivate the glutathione, but this process is not applied to fresh milk.

“If you decide you must have high-heat dried milk, it's important to recognize that (generally) powdered milk at retail stores is not high-heat milk.  There are on-line sources for it (like King Arthur and some others), but since you're paying retail price for a small package, it's pretty expensive (at KA's it is $8.50 per pound plus shipping).

“Pros use high-heat dried milk because it is convenient when doing hundreds or thousands of pounds of dough, and they don't pay as much for it as retail consumers do.  I like using it in bakeries where I've worked, but at home, I'll either use low-heat dried milk and just accept a little less height, or I'll scald fresh milk to 180-190F and then cool it.  If you add the weight of dried milk in a recipe to the weight of water in that recipe, you'll have a reasonably good figure for a weight of fresh milk you can use instead.”

We (Ginny and Ford) scald milk in the microwave oven.  Place the milk in a heat resistant glass container, such as a Pyrex measuring cup and cover it with plastic wrap.  Place the container in the microwave and set it on high for about two minutes for each cup. Stir the contents and measure the temperature.  Repeat for another minute per cup of milk.  The temperature should now be nearly 190°F.  Repeat and this time heat in 15 seconds/cup increments, until 190°F is reached.  In our 600 watt microwave, three cups of milk reach the temperature of 190°F in about 7 1/2 minutes.  If your microwave oven has a different wattage, adjust the time accordingly. Cool the milk to the appropriate temperature in the refrigerator.  Since it takes longer to cool the milk in the refrigerator than to heat the milk in the microwave oven.  We recommend scalding the milk several hours or a day before you wish to use it.  Do NOT add the hot milk to the dough.  Let it cool to the proper temperature.


// Glutathione(GSH)





[3]  See also Daniel T. DiMuzio, Bread Baking, John Wiley (2010), p 24.