The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ascorbic acid

JerrytheK's picture
JerrytheK

Ascorbic acid

I've noticed some people mentioning adding ascorbic acid to doughs.

I'm not familiar with using it in baking.

What's the purpose?

And what doe it do?

Thanks

Justanoldguy's picture
Justanoldguy

It is thought to increase the ability of the dough's gliadin and glutenin proteins to form the bond that results in gluten. Only small amounts are needed and it doesn't affect flavor. That's the theory anyway and because my dough almost never spontaneously combusts I figure, "What the Hell? Let's do it." 

OldLoaf's picture
OldLoaf

It has also been said the it helps keep bread fresh longer.  I only tried a couple of times in yeasted breads and didn't notice any difference.  Lesson learned.....

 

Angelica Nelson's picture
Angelica Nelson

First it's an acid, so it makes yeast happy in small amounts. Not too much.

 

Second it's a reducing agent (as in oxidation/reduction or "redox") which helps the dough's chemical properties. 

 

There's a great discussion on why people add vinegar to dough in this forum too, great reading.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Ascorbic acid is used as a dough conditioner. While it is a common reducing agent it actually works in conjunction with oxygen to become an oxidising agent (DHA) which strengthens gluten bounds.

Vinegar will not have the same effect (on gluten) and is typically used as a preservative / antimicrobial. 

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

Form my food chemistry knowledge, ascorbic acid works similar to salt and baking soda (in alkaline condition). It promotes oxidation and leads to the cross-linking of protein chains through disulfide bond formation. 

However, I think vinegar also plays a role in protein gelation? I assume that by lowering the pH (pH becomes further away from the pi), protein intermolecular interaction weakens. This forms a softer gel, which causes more water to be trapped. Perhaps the crumb would be softer this way?

I really appreciate your knowledge in the field so please correct me if I am wrong. 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

It is as you say the vinegar will weaken the gluten and cause it to absorb more water.

Ian Lowe in the grainz video that Kat linked here (TFL:comment/443027#comment-443027) talks about acid and protein interactions. Well worth a watch if you haven't seen it.

Angelica Nelson's picture
Angelica Nelson

Thanks for the correction.  I wondered why they seemed to have a similar effect.  There's a fellow who shows you how to make DHAA at home from just zucchini skins.  https://youtu.be/YHKBhz7OCB4?t=962  I've used that method, it's not too hard.  I've never considered using it in bread.  Is that the compound you mean?  Dehydroascorbic acid?  Do you think it would have a similar effect on egg white protein?  I'm seeking ideas for better gluten replacement since I can't eat any ever again. 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Indeed, dehydroascorbic acid. That's an interesting YT video.

The same enzyme that is in those zucchini skins occurs naturally in flour.

Not sure about the egg whites.

tlmcca's picture
tlmcca

... sourdough bread recipe mentions it as an optional ingredient to make the bread more sour.

Terry

mwilson's picture
mwilson

I think you'll find that optional ingredient is citric acid not ascorbic.

tlmcca's picture
tlmcca

...and thank you!

Ejay's picture
Ejay

I would also suggest to double check the ingredients of your flour, even organic brands, and if using dried yeast, especially the instant type. Many already have artificial additives like ascorbic acid, emulsifier made from artificial sweetener sorbitol, amylase, etc. added. I have changed to organic yeast and flours made without additives , other than the b vitamins and iron which UK gov. have made compulsory in white flours, and actually find my bread is better without it. Longer proofing time of course, but that itself means better flavour in my experience. 
If you are feeding anyone with apparent gluten intolerance, you may well find these additives are often the real cause of the problems. Testing by medical consultants , not holistic practitioners, has proven that I cannot process sorbitol and synthetic vitamins properly and all antibiotics I need are made especially for me in the lab to avoid sorbitol, which is in just about all of them.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

I'm now eating a loaf I baked last night.  I added 125 mg vitamin C (1/4 of a 500 mg vit c tablet) to 681 g of mostly fresh milled flour (milled about  11 hrs previously).  

I really liked how it conditioned the dough.  I got by with 86% hydration, whereas I normally have to go to 90% hydration to develop gluten, and then bake 84 minutes to get the moisture out, and get the internal temp to 208 F.  

This bake, it got up to 209.5 F internal temp in 74 minutes.

The crumb is lighter and nicer,  I could likely reduce the amount of Vit C by half again and get better results.  But this really showed me that VIt C makes a difference with near 100% home-milled whole grain. 

The initial mix was all home-milled, and the levain was probably about 1/3 home milled, and at least 3/4ths whole-grain.  

 

Ejay's picture
Ejay

I read your blog too. Interesting results. I do like the way that you are in control of exactly how much vit C you are adding,  and that to me is one of the reasons I bake, knowing exactly what is in my loaf and where it came from.