In addition to the four main ingredients used to make bread – flour, salt, yeast and water – there are often small quantities of other ingredients which are added to improve the texture, crumb structure and keeping properties of the bread. All ingredients in bread will be clearly listed on the wrapper.
Non-hydrogenated vegetable fat is used in very small quantities. This helps to keep the bread soft over life.
Flour Treatment Agents
Ascorbic acid (E300 otherwise know as Vitamin C) is the most commonly used flour treatment agent used in breadmaking. It is used to strengthen the dough and has a beneficial effect on the volume, crumb structure and softness of the bread. Some bakers also use L-cysteine Hydrochloride (E920) exclusively from vegetarian sources.
All emulsifiers are based on vegetable oils. They are used to provide dough stability in addition to improving loaf volume and crumb structure, and in maintaining softness:
- E471: Mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acids
- E472(e): Mono- and di-acetyltartaric acid esters of mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acids
- E481: Sodium stearoyl-2 lactylate
- E482: Calcium stearoyl-2-lactylate
- E322: Lecithin
Enzymes may be added to the bread dough to supplement the enzymes naturally present in the flour and minimize variations caused by environmental factors such as climate and soil quality. Enzymes are destroyed by heat. They are therefore regarded as processing aids and, in accordance with EU legislation, are not required to be labelled in the list of ingredients.
Preservatives, such as acetic acid (vinegar), are often used in commercial baking to ensure the freshness of the product.
Soya flour is milled from un-cooked soya beans. It works with the oxygen in the air to strengthen the dough, to provide support and structure to the loaf during baking. It also helps provide a creamy, ‘bready’ flavour.
Often, some of these ingredients are combined into so-called ‘bread improvers’; these are easily dispensable blends of key minor functional ingredients (such as fat, flour treatment agents, emulsifiers, enzymes, soya) required to enhance (“improve”) the flour. Each bread improver is designed to match a flour with a process, and is product specific.