If you’ve ever baked bread with whole grain flour, you probably know from experience that it can be delicious and full of flavour, but often with a heavy, dense texture. If you’ve ever wondered how bakeries get their 100% whole grain bread so light and fluffy, here’s their secret: dough enhancer. And you can use it too.
“Dough enhancer” sounds like a frightfully scientific, chemical-laden additive, but it’s really just a collection of natural ingredients that improve bread’s texture either by giving the yeast a boost, increasing the dough’s elasticity, or holding on to moisture. You can use it when baking bread by hand or in a bread machine. Here are some of the most commonly used ingredients in a dough enhancer formula:
Gluten is the key ingredient in most dough enhancer recipes. It is the protein responsible for elasticity in bread dough. When the dough is elastic, it will rise and stretch in response to the carbon dioxide gas created by the yeast. Since whole grain flours include the fibre-heavy bran and the germ they have less gluten, cup for cup, than refined white flour. Many whole grain bread recipes call for white flour to increase the gluten content, but you can also just add 2-3 tbsp of pure gluten per loaf to get the same effect.
Citric Acid Powder
Citric acid lowers the pH of your dough. This creates a happier environment for the yeast to work in. It is also a natural preservative and will help your bread stay fresher longer. You only need to add a tiny pinch per loaf, too much will affect the flavour.
Ginger is a well known yeast booster. Adding a pinch of ginger will increase yeast activity, resulting in a better rise. Other spices that will also help kick-start yeast are cardamon, cinnamon, nutmeg, and thyme.
Soy Lecithin Granules
Lecithin, found in soy and egg yolks, is an emulsifier: it helps oil and water blend together. This helps the bread maintain moisture levels, keeping it from going stale quickly, as well as making a more consistent crumb. Adding too much can result in a softer crust, so you may want to experiment with quantities depending on your crust preferences. Start with adding ½-1 tsp per loaf.
Skim Milk Powder
Milk or skim milk powder help the final loaf retain moisture and helps the dough relax. This is especially useful for shaped doughs like pizza crusts. It also promotes browning in the crust. Try adding about a tablespoon per loaf.
Dough Enhancer Recipe
If you bake bread regularly, you may want to just mix up a batch of dough enhancer to have on hand all the time. This recipe yields enough for about 10 loaves of bread. Store it up to six months in a sealed container in your baking cupboard.
1 cup Westpoint Naturals Vital Wheat Gluten
½ cup Westpoint Naturals Skim Milk Powder
2 tbsp Westpoint Naturals Soy Lecithin Granules
1 ½ tsp Westpoint Naturals Citric Acid Powder
1 ½ tsp Westpoint Naturals Ginger Powder
- Stir all ingredients together, mix well.
- Use 3 tbsp per loaf, combined with other dry ingredients.