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Miriam Kresh

What would vinegar add to bread dough?

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I was looking at the challah recipe on the back of a package of instant yeast. The yeast is dry granules that are meant to be mixed first with the flour, with liquids added after. The recipe called for 1 Tblsp. vinegar; the rest of the recipe goes like this:

1 kg. flour, mixed with 1 pkg. yeast

1/2 cup sugar

4 egg yolks (used 2 whole eggs instead)

2 tsp. salt

100 grams margarine (yech, I used a little olive oil instead)

1 Tblsp. vinegar

1 1/2 cups water (too little water; had to add about another 1/2 cup)

The challah was alright, but nothing to rave about. I prefer a lighter dough at any rate, but was left wondering what vinegar is supposed to do. A simple chemical reaction with the horrible margarine? Flavor enhancer?

Please edify me, someone.

Miriam

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It could be there as a flavor enhancer. It's also the case that acetic acid wrecks gluten, which has a variety of effects.

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I would think it slows the yeast down from breeding too much with all the sugar around, should keep things sweeter and less yeasty. I used some lemon juice to promote glutens one time after reading Cookwise, but I forget why, and it counters what slkinsey said so it's probably wrong.

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It's a preserver...keeps the bread from going moldy so fast. At least that's what my mom says, and she's generally right about most things. But don't tell her I said that.

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coquus, the acid in lemon juice is primarily citric acid. I'm not sure what effect that has on gluten. The effect of acetic acid on gluten is easily observable. Just make up a dough of flour and vinegar. You'll notice that the dough won't hold together, and you can see the gluten sheets ripping apart like an overfermented sourdough.

You may have something there with respect to yeast inhibition, though. Acetic acid (and a low pH in general) does inhibit growth and activity of bread yeast.

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I played with rice vinegar a bit, adding 1/2 tsp into 800g of whole wheat flour made the dough kind of "springier". I had similar experience when added vital gluten...

Crumb texture had well defined cells with thick walls - without vinegar the same dough produced crumb with much smaller cells and crumbly texture.


Edited by doronin (log)

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I've made bread doughs with and without vinegar, and I concur with doronin, it makes the dough springier--same recipe, one with a tbsp of vinegar and one without.

ETA: Elastic might be a better word.


Edited by miladyinsanity (log)

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It seems that vinegar is for texture rather than flavor...and perhaps as a preservative, although I promise not to reveal Badiane's source to her Mom.

Thanks, folks.

Miriam

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I had long thought that vinegar would retard yeast growth, and avoided it. However, recently I started adding 1 T of rice vinegar (i.e. a mild vinegar) to a loaf made with somewhat under 1 lb flour, to strengthen the sourness of bread made with yogurt whey.

The plan was to make a "quick" sour bread in the breadmaker, for extra palatability in summer. Since this is roughly double the amount of vinegar Miriam's original post mentions, it did add noticeable sourness. The sour flavor was a big hit with my elder son, who loses his appetite dramatically in hot weather.

Texture...yes, it really makes a difference - heavy bread made with rye, fine ground whole wheat flour and graham flour is normally a bit hard and heavy, but with vinegar, it's definitely springier (not really loftier, just better texture). Chewy but still soft, definitely the way forward for dark bread-machine breads for me.

It made a difference to a challah-type bread too, but not so dramatic. I've never eaten any challah except what I've baked myself, and find it a very springy bread - if that is how it is supposed to be, maybe the salt vs. vinegar/yolks/fat balance is the reason why. (And I used to include some durum semolina flour in challah, is that typical too, and would the vinegar make more of a difference with a really high-protein flour like that?).

Since then, I started reading McGee's Food and Cooking (riveting reading!) and sure enough, he mentions souring agents as tenderizing "hard" gluten structures. He doesn't go into all the detail I would like on flours, but it's still interesting reading just for the bread content.

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I'm wondering whether the tablespoon of vinegar might be meant to be used as a wash? It's sometimes used to give the bread a dark, shiny appearance, although I've never done it myself.


Edited by devlin (log)

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That's an idea, and I'm keen to try it when the weather cools enough to use an oven!

With darker wholewheat or wholegrain loaves, a little vinegar is sometimes used as a "cheat's" souring agent in the dough. Wish I'd started doing it earlier...

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Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in small amounts enhances yeast growth and will produce a springier dough. It could be that vinegar is doing the same thing.

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Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in small amounts enhances yeast growth and will produce a springier dough.  It could be that vinegar is doing the same thing.

Err no. Ascorbic acid has a specific oxidising effect on an enzyme that otherwise degrades gluten present in fresh flour. Acetic acid (vinegar) would not have the same effect.

Any acid breaks down starch (not gluten) to sugars, but the amount added here would not be significant. Flavour is possible, and is sometimes added to mimic sourdough but that is not the typical flavour profile of challah. The small amount suggests adding to the eggwash

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Err no. Ascorbic acid has a specific oxidising effect on an enzyme that otherwise degrades gluten present in fresh flour. Acetic acid (vinegar) would not have the same effect.

Any acid breaks down starch (not gluten) to sugars, but the amount added here would not be significant. Flavour is possible, and is sometimes added to mimic sourdough but that is not the typical flavour profile of challah. The small amount suggests adding to the eggwash

Thanks for the clarification.

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I've a recipe that includes steel-cut oats and bulgar wheat that requires overnight soaking -

OR - "place oats and bulgar in a bowl and add 2 cups hot water mixed with 1/4 cup vinegar."

Soak for 30 minutes and pour off liquid - do not rinse.

I never thought about it specifically, just followed the recipe.

Perhaps the purpose in this instance is to soften these two grains more rapidly.

I haven't noticed any particular sourness in the bread but to my taste, whole grain breads are naturally sweeter anyway.

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Err no. Ascorbic acid has a specific oxidising effect on an enzyme that otherwise degrades gluten present in fresh flour. Acetic acid (vinegar) would not have the same effect.

By fresh flour, do you mean flour that hasn't been aged for a couple of weeks after milling?

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