The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

To Scald or Not To Scald (or: Cute Little Buns)

browndog's picture

To Scald or Not To Scald (or: Cute Little Buns)

The various and opposing lines of thought, not just here but in reputable books and on line as well, on scalding milk for bread have me baffled and scratchin' my head. Especially as I've been blithely adding unscalded milk to my doughs for, well, a very long time. Had I really been compromising my results with careless technique? Spurred on by CountryBoy's recent thread, yesterday I did this:

not rocket science

I tried to control the variables with limited success, but all three cute little buns were mixed with roughly 70g liquid, 95g KA AP, 2g salt and 1g ADY. 5 minute knead, 1 hour ferment, 1/2 hour proof. Into a 450* oven on a sheet pan covered by a rinsed stainless bowl, and baked for 25 minutes. The unscalded gets the blue ribbon but it also had the advantage of being a touch heavier and baked last so the oven was I assume at its hottest. Still. Clearly it didn't suffer from lack of scalding. My conclusion?

I need to get a life.

And I would be interested to know what others' experience has been.

(We ate two of these for dinner, reheated with garlic butter. It was worth it to further the cause of science.) 

leemid's picture

I will take any or all of them if you are expressing disappointment. I'm somewhat discerning, but not picky. If anything I baked didn't come out with at least that much variation I would be surprised.


browndog's picture

Only a slight  unease as regards my pseudo-scientific method, Lee. I wanted to find out if scalding milk had any effect on the finished product, and there was enough variation in my method to make me question my results. Still, I got a handful of perky rolls and at least this once, unscalded milk produced an apparently uninhibited loaf. I think I'm over it now. And why, thank you, Lee, of course I'd be happy to share. : )

TRK's picture

I used to use unscalded milk as well and never thought twice about it.  The only time I scalded was when I put the hot milk on the oats for oat bread to soak before mixing the dough.  Then I read an article in Cook's Illustrated where they did just what you did and measured much lower rise in the bread with unscalded milk.  Your pictures definitely make it look like it doesn't have as much effect as everybody says.  Well done.  Makes me want to do the same thing to check.

bluezebra's picture


So I'm nevah gonna scald my milk again!!!

Gorgeous bread and sounds even more terrific with the garlic buttah! :D

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Hold Everything! Not a proper Experiment! Sorry Browndog. Now if these enzymes (that get scalded) are interfering in gluten formation, instant yeast would be too quick to really test. Would not a test with sourdough and a longer bulk rise be more of a test? Hmmmm but nice buns. I can almost smell them. --Mini Oven

browndog's picture

Hi, Mini. You're questioning my empiricality?!

I used active dry, but I'm not sure that detail affects the point you're making. And that's a whole 'nother can of worms I didn't consider, hm indeed. Perhaps this whole issue about scading or not is only relevant with extended rises? My sourdough results are not consistent enough for me to tackle that experiment.

TRK, did Cooks Illustrated address long rise times, or did they stick with dry yeast and an hour or two? There's an article I'd like to see, no fudging science for that crowd.

Thanks, BZ dear. There's one left, but I promised it to Lee.


browndog's picture

Okay, this is what I did instead of working...a little on line research that yielded yet another generous crop of oppositional assertions about milk and bread. I copied this because I liked it (especially the little pink FALSE stamp. So dramatic.):

You must scald milk before using it in certain recipes kitchen myth cooking urban legend

This myth has some basis in fact. Raw milk (milk that has not been pasteurized) contains enzymes that can interfere with the thickening action of milk and the rising of bread. The scalding destroys these enzymes. Today, almost all the milk that is sold has been pasteurized, a process of heating the milk to destroy bacteria. This has the same effect as scalding the milk, so by the time you buy the milk those nasty enzymes are already gone. Unless you milk your own cow, you can skip the scalding.

Scalding can however be beneficial if you are making yogurt or other cultured milk products. Even pasteurized milk contains some bacteria, and they can compete with the yogurt culture and affect the result. By heating milk to 180 degrees you eliminate most of these other organisms and give the desirable culture bacterial a clean slate to work with.

Source: Kitchen Science, Revised Edition by Howard Hillman. Houghton-Mifflin, 1989.


I could bring in another dozen articles citing exactly otherwise. Not to mention the fact that I have boatloads of respect for Cooks Illustrated and am inclined to believe almost everything they say.

Do I think this, or my own version of Science Lab Amateur Hour, prove anything definitively? Nope. And as soon as a loaf with a cup or two of unscalded milk in it turns out coarse and low, you know what I'll blame.


bluezebra's picture

Maybe I should make us one? :D

 Good job browndog! So when are you starting the trial with the sourdough :D hahahaha! You could of course, in the cause of science send me one of them to try ;)