Chapter 23: BREAD IMPROVERS
We refer to flour as being either strong or weak. The strength of flour
varies according to its strength and also according to factors such as starch
content, sugar content, the water absorption power (WAP) of the flour and
even the color. These aspects will affect the final outcome. In order to
make good bread, it is not always possible to use the right type of flour as
the availability may vary. It becomes necessary therefore to add something
to the dough in order to bring the product to a pre determined standard.
This addition should be with discretion on knowledge, otherwise, the quality
of the bread instead of improving, may actually worsen.
Bread improvers are substances, which when added to dough, enables the
baker to produce an improved loaf with better keeping qualities, finer
textures, softer crumb, added bloom and enhanced flavor.
There are three main types of bread improvers:
1. Mineral additives
2. Yeast foods
3. Enriching agents
Mineral bread improvers are used during the milling of wheat flour. They are
commonly used by the baker during production as well. They will include:
- Perusulphates – used by the miller at the rate of ¼ to ½ oz per 280
lbs (one sack). The perusulphates used are pottassium and ammonium.
Flour treated with perusulphates will take on more water and an
increased yield is obtained.
- Glyceral Mono Stearate - The mono glyceral ester of stearic acid which
has remarkable emulsifying power, is used as an emulsion stabiliser and as
a crumb softener in bread.
- Potassium Bromate – It is used by the miller at the rate of 1 lb per sack
(280 lbs). Bromate increases the stability on the gluten to extend.
Bromate has an astringent action on gluten thereby increasing the use of
water in the dough. It also increases the gas retaining properties of the
gluten, thus improving loaf volume.
- Phosphates – Acid calcium phosphates and ammonium phosphates both
have a tightening action on gluten and since phosphates are a necessary
constituent of yeast food, they are both fermented stimulants. Acid
calcium phosphate (ACP) is used at the rate of 1 lb per sack(280lbs)
which can be increased to 2 lbs per sack to inhibit the development of
rope. A phosphate is added at the rate of 8 oz per sack.
- Lime Water – Lime water was used to retard the fermentation of the
dough in hot weather climates. In addition, it has astringent action on the
gluten. As lime is alkaline, it reduces the acidity of the dough and thus
slows the rate of the fermentation. It is used at the rate of 1 quart per
- Organic acid – Organic acids are natural constituents of fermented
dough. They are added to get the dough better conditioned. Lactic acid
can be added at the rate of 8 oz per sack. Sussinic acid is added at the
rate of 2-4 oz per sack.
Yeast foods indirectly affect the bread in a number of ways by their effect
on fermentation. Malt not only provides food directly to the yeast but
manufactures further supplies as and when needed whilst simultaneously
mellowing and softening the gluten of the flour.
There are two types of malt: diastatic and non diastatic.
Diastatic malt add to the flavor, it increases the sugar content in the dough
and provides diastatic sugar for the fermentation process. Diastatic
enzymes also contain proolytic enzymes which modify gluten. Non Diastatic
malt serves the dual purpose of providing sugar as well as adding to the
Flour contains natural sugar. Principally, this is sucrose in varying amounts.
Normally, it is 2.5 –3%. This amount is not sufficient for satisfactory
fermentation. There must be sufficient sugar present for the production of
gas that will give the loaf the required volume and to allow for the
caramelization of the crust during baking. As sugar contains no nitrogen,
they cannot be considered complete foods for yeast, but they produce
material from which CO2 can be produced. Demerara sugar and even treacle
can be used in brown breads as they are excellent for imparting flavor and
Enrichment is a way of increasing nutritional value of the bread along with
improvements in volume, texture and the keeping quality of the bread
Fats - Fats have a physical rather than a chemical effect on dough. As fat
is a shortening agent, it reduces toughness, thus making the product more
mellow. It is particularly valuable for use with strong flour with a tough and
harsh gluten content. Fats can be used in small quantities to give optimum
effect. Fat also increases food value. They add to the moistness in bread
thereby retarding staling. They also impart flavor to the bread.
Milk and Milk Products - Whole milk added to dough has the effect of
adding fat as well as sugar, besides calcium salts and casein.
Eggs – The incorporation of eggs in a bread dough results in many
improvements. Egg adds to the increased volume, better texture and better
oven spring. It is economical to use as it contributes immensely to improved
quality and volume of the product.