The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Substitute question (bread "improver")

Scott_R's picture
Scott_R

Substitute question (bread "improver")

I have a recipe that calls for 1 tablespoon of King Arthur Flour's "Whole Grain Bread Improver." 

From the ingredient list, this is vital wheat gluten, soy flour, inactive yeast, and ascorbic acid.

I have plain vital wheat gluten; can I just substitute that? Should I use a lesser amount of the wheat gluten because the KAF product has those other ingredients?

 
ciabatta's picture
ciabatta

Vital Wheat Gluten added generally should be somewhere around 2% of total flour weight in the dough.

Scott_R's picture
Scott_R

Regardless of the type of flour? (e.g., bread vs oat)

ciabatta's picture
ciabatta

The measure of wheat flour's gluten potential is its protein content.  AP flour is around 9-11 percent, Bread flour is around 12 percent, strong or high gluten flour is around 14-15 percent.  the use of Vital Wheat gluten is to "strengthen" the protein level in the flour used by bringing up it's protein level.  

Gluten is the protein bonds that allow the dough to form gas bubbles that makes the bread rise.

Though whole grains have a high protein level, it doesnt necessarily translate to strong gluten, so VWG is often added to whole grain breads to strengthen it.

Now, that's all talk about wheat flour.  Other grain flours have different levels of protein and gluten forming potential. Rye has some. Oat on the other hand does not have gluten.

As an "enhancer" to a bread formula that takes 1 tablespoon. i would believe that we are just boosting the other flours already in the recipe. Thus, I suggested the 2%.   over use of VWG will make your bread very chewy and hard to digest.

The ascorbic acid that's in the enhancer is essentially Vitamin C. it boosts gluten development and helps the dough rise better. 

 

Scott_R's picture
Scott_R

The recipe uses 298g bread flour and 10 g (1 tablespoon) improver; by my math that's 3%. If this is because the ratio of VWG is different than for the KAF product--i.e., no more than 2% of wheat flour--that's about 6 grams for VWG, instead. (I weighed the VWG I had and it also came to 1 tablespoon=10 grams.)

I'm guessing the improver is there for the 50 grams of oat flour (and 99 g rolled oats, though I presume that these don't relate too much to the structure--i.e., it's more and add-in than a flour?).

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

DanAyo and mwilson recently had a conversation about nutritional yeast (aka inactive yeast) and ascorbic acid.

ascorbic acid is an  oxider, and the inactive ("nutritional") yeast is a reducing agent.

So the "improver" is doing more than just adding  VWG.

Scott_R's picture
Scott_R

Yes, but I have the VWG is my freezer, and I'd have to order the improver. If the difference is incremental it would be worth it to use what I have.

Actually, I also have a container of nutritional yeast, now that I think about it.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

You likely have ascorbic acid, in tablet form, too.

 

Scott_R's picture
Scott_R

Nope. I don't use vitamins. I'd rather have an orange. :)

ciabatta's picture
ciabatta

"Your breads will RISE and SHINE with King Arthur Whole-Grain bread improver. Turns whole grain breads into picture-perfect moist loaves with great texture. An all purpose solution to dense, dry, flat loaves."

Sounds magical!

Please bake a loaf with and one without to let us know the difference.

 

Scott_R's picture
Scott_R

Well, once again, I don't have any. And even if I wanted to buy a bag for this one loaf, it's out of stock at King Arthur Flour and on Amazon.

albacore's picture
albacore

The KA improver also includes soya flour, presumably as a lipoxygenase source. OP, you can't just add one ingredient from the four in the improver and expect it to do the same job!

Lance

Scott_R's picture
Scott_R

Well, no, that's the whole point to the question. I'm not trying to replicate a product using one ingredient out of four (or, maybe 2 out of 4 if you count the nutritional yeast). It was that the bread improver is there for a specific purpose, one that is partially brought about by the vital wheat gluten. Since I already have plenty of VWG, will that yield a nice enough loaf even if it can't perform all of the tricks that the improver can--which itself if there to help, not as a crucial ingredient.

Mr Immortal's picture
Mr Immortal

My thought on this, Scott, is that you’re going to have to resort to the good old fashioned “try it and see” approach.  Even if the experiment is a failure, it’s almost guaranteed to be a perfectly edible and quite tasty failure!

 

For what it’s worth, I think that the VWG will help.  It might not be a perfect substitute for the bread improver, but it will be better than just omitting the ingredient from the recipe altogether.

 

And by all means, let us know how it turns out!

Mr Immortal's picture
Mr Immortal

Also, there is this to consider:  its entirely possible that the recipe that calls for this specific KAF product was written by someone who works for KAF, and was designed specifically to help increase sales of that product.