Is it cheating to use a dough conditioner?
I struggled with bread for years. Generally speaking, I enjoyed what I was making, but it seemed every loaf was a crap shoot. While I had far more successes than failures, many of the successes had, for lack of a better term, a 'novice' quality. The flavors were there, the crust usually impressed, but I always had issues with the crumb. Either it was dense and flat (I used to have a big problem with oven spring. I don't know what I changed, but one day, that problem just went away), or just plain uninteresting. Inconsistency ruled. I could never commit to bringing a fresh loaf for our dinner host, because I never knew what was going to come out of the oven that day. While I enjoy a crusty, chewy French loaf, I longed for the light, fluffy, airy texture of a particular in-store bakery bread in a city I visit, maybe, twice a year. And PB&J just needs a certain 'Wonder Bread' character. I wanted to be able to make these things deliberately.
I researched the hell out of it and, reluctantly, decided to try a commercial dough conditioner. I bought a can of the Honeyville brand (I didn't realize it was a #10 can. At 1 tsp per cup of flour, this is a lifetime supply! I'll likely be sharing this.).
Holy Mother of Pearl! I've been using this for two weeks, during which time I've baked a half dozen loaves of various types. This is great stuff! The bread now does what I want it to! My technique didn't improve that dramatically overnight, so it can only be the dough conditioner. Light, fluffy, and airy interior is now at my whim, not the bread gods!
But it's almost embarassing. My son's first reaction was a sarcastic "so now you can make ...store bought bread at home?" Yeah, I guess that's what I'm doing. But I love store bought bread (actually, store baked bread. Big difference, depending on the store, obviously.)
Am I wrong? Is there something inherently dishonest about using a commercially produced dough conditioner? I mean, it's not like making a home made cake from a box. (or is it?)