Acetic Acid / Vinegar in Dough
I often explore different aspects of bread baking.
Recently I was looking at using Acetic Acid / Vinegar in direct baking doughs.
There is very little published (that I could find) in this subject. So I thought I would share what I have found.
Generally vinegar is used as a dough conditioner at about 1.5% of the weight of the flour. Vinegar is about 4% - 4.5% Acetic acid.
I wondered whether adding it would enable more flavour producing reactions with the alcohol produced by the yeast.
My intent was to make a simple bread add the acetic acid, ferment at 24C / 75F for a slow fermentation giving time for the flavour chemistry to work and then cold proof the dough for the same reason.
The bread was 80% moderate strength bread flour13% protein, 20% freshly milled whole rye flour, 0.0063% instant yeast and 60% hydration. Usually I would make this loaf with a natural leaven and so I have a good idea of the loaf volume, crumb and flavour.
The method used was
30 min flour hydration
A very brief machine knead, 30 seconds with a beater on the slowest setting.
3 episodes of stretch and fold over four hours
Stretch and fold shaping with moderate de-gassing, 14 hours in the fridge at 4C / 39F
Baked in cast iron cloche (challenger pan) at 230C / 446F.
The crumb was lighter and was nicely soft with that French Bread rubbery bite.
The crust was thin and crispy and had a good flavour and aroma.
There were no vinegary notes to the bread.
The fermentation was faster
The dough was more elastic, stronger gluten
Some of the colour was ‘bleached’ out of the dough. Oxidised carotenoids. Carotenoids are flavour molecules.
The flavour was diminished. Much poorer than this bread would ordinarily have with the whole rye flour.
Anyone reading this list should recognise precisely the same effects as those of adding Vit C / Ascorbic acid to the dough.
This bread had 20% whole rye in it. The crumb is usually a markedly denser than this with that amount of rye flour.
As a flavour enhancer it was a total fail.
I see King Arthur sell a dough conditioner which is acetic acid and Vital gluten.
I can only guess at what has happened. With naturally leavened breads the acetic acid is produced slowly and I suspect that allows more flavour reactions with the alcohol produced slowly by the yeast. Here I effectively dowsed the dough with ascetic acid and it has oxidised the gluten making it more elastic and it oxidised the carotenoids which give colour and flavour to the bread. This is precisely what vitamin C does to a dough.
Vinegar makes a superb dough conditioner if you don't mind the flavour loss.
Anyone got any more insights on this?