Bread improvers

Is There Such a Thing as a Bread Improver?

Beginning bakers, welcome! In answer to this popular question, I have to tell you – there are many bread improvers that home cooks can use. The best part is that they don’t require any extra investment. You’ve probably already got them in your pantry or fridge! I’ll walk you through some of my favorites in this article.

Texture

Playing with texture in bread can be fun. The most popular (and one of the most basic) bread improver I know of is milk – it provides a rich crust color and a light fluffy texture that many people love. Buttermilk is another great addition to breads, and gives a nice tangy flavor.  You can use powdered milk or fresh, but if you go with fresh make sure not to use the timer function on your bread machine. Your milk could go sour before the baking process begins, and trust me, the result wouldn’t be what you are hoping for.

Other bread improvers for texture include grains like rice that have already been cooked and are added almost like a fruit or nut would be. This can help your bread have a richer texture. Potatoes and chickpeas can also help improve the texture of savory breads. For sweet breads, try using bananas or applesauce to help retain moisture and give a cake-like texture. Eggs can be added to both sweet and savory recipes to improve texture.

Flavor

Finding a bread improver for flavor is simple. Nearly every bread includes salt, which is a natural flavor enhancer. You can also consider adding a ½ – 1 teaspoon of honey to your recipes. Humans are designed to like sweet things, and adding just a touch of honey to any bread recipe can help make the flavor that much more inviting.

Health

If health is your primary concern, try switching ½ of your flour for whole grain flour. Whole grains are a wonderful addition to any diet, and can really help you to sneak some health benefits into your bread. If you have picky eaters in your house, the substitution for only ½ of the flour helps to hide the health benefit, without hiding the great flavor of fresh baked bread.  Flax seeds are another wonderful and healthy additive, and give breads a nice texture as well.

Multi-tasking Enhancers

Bread machine breads can be tricky at first. Many home bakers use vitamin C and vital wheat gluten to help their breads improve in flavor and texture simultaneously. These may be a bit more difficult for beginning bakers to find, though. Hodgson Mills, a brand that makes quite a few great flours and bread additives, also makes a blend of the two. Try it at least once, especially if you just can’t get that perfect loaf as is. You’ll be happy with the results, I bet.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are quite a few bread improvers that you can add to your home baked breads, depending on what quality you are trying to improve. If you want more information, or are looking for different ways to improve your bread, check out the following books. They’re in my collection, and I love them.

The Bread Machine Bible by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter

The Art of Baking Bread by Matt Pelligrini

The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

Knead to Know by The Real Bread Campaign

Happy Baking!

 

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