Bread improver, or dough enhancer, can be beneficial to any bread recipe. It is a must, however, when baking with whole wheat flour or whole grains, which are heavy and tend to weigh the dough down. By adding a dough improver to your regular ingredients, you'll be including natural elements that will help keep your bread fresher longer, will give it a more pleasing texture and will give the yeast in the recipe the ideal environment in which to do its job. Dough enhancer can be purchased in speciality baking shops or you can make your own.
Proof the yeast in your bread recipe by mixing it with the warm liquid (water or milk) in the recipe. Stir in the sugar and allow the mixture to foam while you prepare the dry ingredients.
Place 1 tbsp bread improver in a 1-cup measuring cup. Fill the rest of the cup with flour. Level it off by swiping a knife blade across the top of the cup and allowing the excess flour to fall back into the bin. Pour the cup of flour into a bowl and repeat this process for every cup of flour your recipe calls for.
Measure out the salt called for in the recipe and add it to the flour in the mixing bowl.
Pour the proofed yeast over the flour mixture. Add any remaining ingredients that your bread recipe calls for and mix with a wooden spoon.
Knead the bread dough with your hands once it becomes too stiff to continue stirring it with the spoon. You can turn it out of the bowl onto a floured countertop, if necessary, and continue kneading by hand for approximately 8 minutes.
Spray the mixing bowl with a light mist of cooking spray and return the dough to the bowl.
Cover the dough and allow it to raise for the prescribed amount of time according to your recipe. The dough is now ready to bake.
Gluten is a common name for bread improver. Look for that name on the packaging if you're having a hard time finding "bread improver" in the store. You can add dough enhancer to a recipe that you are baking in a bread machine as well. Just follow the steps to measure it out as if you were making the bread dough by hand. Some more experienced bakers claim that white vinegar is an effective dough enhancer. Just add the same amount of vinegar to your bread recipe as yeast. For example, if your recipe calls for 2 1/2 tsp yeast, you will add the same amount of white vinegar after you've added in the proofed yeast. Another bread improver from years gone by is potato flakes. The recommended amount varies depending on who you're talking to, but the addition of 1/8 to 1/4 cup of potato flakes is rumoured to enhance the texture of your finished loaf, although it won't do much to make the bread last longer. Potato pearls shouldn't be used as a substitute, as they don't dissolve readily and might add an off flavour to your bread.