Have you ever looked at the ingredients on a store-bought loaf of bread? There are a lot of other ingredients compared to homemade bread. I believe you are what you eat, so keeping the ingredients simple and to something you can pronounce is important to me. If you understand how these simple ingredients affect your loaf it will make you a better baker.
There are two types of breads
1. Enriched breads which have sugar, dairy, oil and other ingredients these breads are usually loaf breads, or sweet breads. The crumb has a soft light even texture along with a soft crust and are baked at a lower temperature due to the fact that sugar browns the loaf.
2. Lean breads breads are usually baked into crusty loaves or boules they are flour, water, yeast and salt. Their texture is chewy with large holes and are baked at a higher temperature, than enriched breads. Lean breads are usually baked with steam which creates a thick crunchy crust.
What Sugar Does
Sugar adds sweetness, as well as contributing to the product's browning. The main role for sugar in yeast breads is to provide food for the yeast. It will also speed up your rise time during proofing. Sugar is not an essential ingredient for the yeast to grow and multiply. The yeast can convert the starch in the flour to sugar as in a lean bread. Adding the sugar gives an added boost to the yeast as the yeast grows and multiplies. The yeast uses the sugar, forming by-products of carbon dioxide and alcohol, which give the bread its characteristic flavor. The sugar that is not utilized by the yeast tenderizes the bread by preventing the gluten from forming. Sugar also holds moisture in the finished product which makes your enriched loaf stay fresh longer.
Sweet dough recipes call for a much larger proportion of sugar than a basic loaf bread recipe. One would think that with so much sugar available, the yeast would grow uncontrollably. But the reverse actually happens. The yeast “overdoses” on the sugar; and the chemical balance becomes upset. Sweet breads due to the higher amount of sugar can take a longer time to double the bulk of the dough. To compensate for this problem, most sweet dough recipes specify twice the usual amount of yeast.
Type Of Sugar Used In Enriched Breads
1. Refined Sugars:
White or brown sugar can be used in bread making and will not affect the liquid ratio of your recipe. If added in moderation (1-2 Tablespoons) to your 1-2 lb. loaf will feed the yeast but will not make your loaf sweet. So if your watching your sugar intake this is a good ratio if you just want to feed the yeast.
Honey is a great sweetener for bread, with one small warning, honey has antiseptic properties, and may kill the yeast. The first time you use a fresh jar of honey, make sure you test it with your yeast. Proof the yeast, if there is no problem use the rest of the jar. Another consideration when using honey is it's a liquid and depending on the amount you are adding to the bread, it may throw off your recipe (flour to liquid ratio). You may have to add more flour to your loaf to compensate. If you are using honey instead of what the recipe calls for, lower the oven temperature by 25°F because honey tends to brown easily, also extend the baking time 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Blackstrap Molasses
This is my choice of sweeteners, because of the health benefits. Blackstrap molasses is rich in iron, high in calcium and magnesium, along with a good source of vitamin B6 and selenium. When adding it to your bread you're not adding that much but, the yeast not only needs the sugar it also needs minerals which are provided by the blackstrap molasses. Note, breads made with molasses brown more quickly like honey, and the temperature of the oven should be lowered by 25°F, also the baking time extended by 5- 10 minutes.
Unlike refined sugar, blackstrap molasses has a moderate glycemic load of 55. This makes it a good sugar substitute for diabetics and individuals who are seeking to avoid blood sugar spikes. Moreover, one serving (2 T.) of black-strap contains only 32 calories, making it suitable for a weight loss diet.
4. Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners do not provide food for the yeast so they cannot be used in breads. Remember, the first function of sugar is a food source for the yeast.
Miracle of Blackstrap Molasses
KIng Author Flour