Bread and butter (how to make bread soft)

Author Elena Zheleznyak 🔗

Probably, not only my whole grain bread turns out to be tougher than bread made from white flour or a mixture of different types of flour. Here, for example, the bread according to these recipes is so tasty, but, frankly, not a cloud or a pillow with a cotton crumb (one hearth and the second - toast). And, in general, it is usually soft bread that you usually want, and it is generally accepted, and quite justifiably, that soft bread is more pleasant and tastier than hard bread, it is at least easier and more pleasant to bite off and chew. But whole grain bread is characterized by a rigid structure due to the properties and composition of flour, gluten does not develop as intensively in it as in white bread, and it does not grow so much in volume.

Here, for example, a toast made from white flour and whole grain, the proportions are about the same, both are leavened.

Adding butter to bread dough (how to make bread soft)

Adding butter to bread dough (how to make bread soft) Adding butter to bread dough (how to make bread soft)

This is because flour, especially homemade flour, contains almost 100% of grain, its fractions are heterogeneous and unequal in size, and among them there are quite tough ones, which, moreover, do not soak much in water and tear the gluten during kneading, preventing its development. This, of course, does not mean that those who prefer to bake healthy bread are now forced to work hard with their jaws all their lives to chew a healthy crust. Whole grain bread can also be made soft and tender by adding certain "secret" ingredients to the dough, such as fats (vegetable and animal), potato broth, cottage cheese and even soda. I want to focus on the first and take a closer look at how butter works in wheat dough.

In the articles about baking and hand kneading, we touched a little on the topic of fats in the dough, and specifically the fact that they penetrate into the dough in large quantities, envelop the gluten threads and interfere with the formation of gluten during kneading. This is more typical for baked goods, because it involves adding a fairly large amount of butter to the dough. And if it is more than 10% of the flour weight, it will inhibit the development of gluten and will impair fermentation. Oil, enveloping yeast cells, hindering the access of nutrients and dough fermentation slows down.

But if there is not a lot of butter in the dough, about 3-5% of the weight of flour, butter works wonders and plays into the hands of the baker, making the bread thicker, more elastic and softer. The fact is that fat molecules, getting into the dough, lubricate the gluten threads and envelop the starch grains, from which the dough becomes more elastic and its gas-holding capacity increases. Simply put, thanks to the oil in the dough, more gas that yeast secretes is collected and retained, so the bread turns out fluffier, softer, and even stays fresh much longer.

A striking example of this is this bread based on the recipe of the famous baker Peter Reinhart. This is whole grain bread, but so soft and tender, lovely, and all because there is butter in the recipe. If you compare it with this bread, which I gave as an example of rough bread at the beginning of the article, then the difference between them will be huge. If you baked both options, then the more you will understand what I mean. Both breads are delicious and have an amazing aroma, which only sourdough is capable of, but Reinhart's bread is softer. In the first photo there is bread baked without adding oil, in the second - with liquid vegetable oil.

Adding butter to bread dough (how to make bread soft) Adding butter to bread dough (how to make bread soft)

What fats are most commonly used in baking? Here, probably, you should not harbor illusions or bend your heart, if we are talking about production, then this is most often margarine, at best, vegetable oil. Why margarine is not useful, I think, is not worth explaining, but briefly and primitive, since I myself am not very versed in subtle chemical processes let me remind you. During the production of margarine, liquid vegetable oils are exposed to hydrogen, resulting in the formation of trans fatty acids, which have a detrimental effect on the liver, especially the weakened and children. The body takes trans isomers for unsaturated fatty acids that we need, like air, as a result of which we are deceived and get a poisonous pacifier instead of precious essential fatty acids.

For whole grain bread, butter is of great importance and the addition of a seemingly insignificant amount can significantly improve the quality of the bread. It is believed that the optimal addition of butter is equal to about 4% of the flour mass, then the bread has the maximum volume... For example, 500 gr. flour is 20 gr. oils. Traditional for whole grain bread and baking is also the use of melted animal fat - lard, so everyone who has tried to bake bread with it is very praised by everyone, as one assures that lard has a magical effect on whole grain bread. To be honest, I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m a big lover of butter in bread, I also like the taste shades and especially the aroma and butter also has a wonderful effect on bread (especially when spread on top))

How should you add fat to the dough? As you know, fats are solid and liquid, so here are some technologists advise adding fats to the dough in molten form, moreover, you can mix several types of fat. For example, if you have a little sunflower oil, a little butter and a teaspoon of lard, you can melt everything, mix, and then add to the dough.

At the same time, the same technologists (or not the same, but different, but the following statement also makes sense) it is advised to add some of the fat in a soft, NOT melted form. They explain this by the fact that fats, the melting point of which is not lower or higher than the fermentation and proofing temperature, can improve the gas-holding properties of the dough, which makes the bread richer and softer. Crystals of solid fat stabilize the gas bubbles in the dough due to their solid structure, they seem to strengthen them, so that the bubbles can increase their volume. This directly improves the structure of the crumb of the finished bread, it turns out to be pronounced, not crumbling, not dense and elastic. When fat crystals melt as the temperature rises, they lose their ability to strengthen the gas bubbles in the dough.

If there is not a lot of butter in the bread, then, most likely, its taste will not be very noticeable, of course, if it is not a fragrant unrefined sunflower seed. Although, here, butter, even a small amount of it, is already clearly visible, it is felt well by those who like the presence of butter in the dough, and even more so by those who cannot stand it.

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