What can I use instead of a bread improver? The best substitutes for bread improvers are gluten, ascorbic acid, diastatic malt powder, potato flakes, and chickpea flour. Lecithin will soften and enrich the dough, while ginger and sugar kickstart the yeast’s leavening process. Alternatively, make a DIY bread improver mixture.
A bread improver is a mixture of additives that enhances and conditions bread dough. Most storebought improvers contain ingredients to strengthen gluten, improve rise, speed up proofing, make the dough more elastic, create a tender crumb and preserve the final product.
Here are the nine best substitutes for bread improver:
The Best Bread Improver Substitutes
The most straightforward substitute for bread improver is gluten.
The main ingredient of bread is gluten, found in wheat flour. This web-like protein forms the structure and nutritional basis of your dough.
As yeast consumes sugar, it releases air, which creates the leavening effect. Gluten must stretch to trap the air in the dough to keep it light.
Gluten develops as you knead the bread to allow the bread to rise without the protein strands breaking.
If you don’t have any bread improver, choose strong flour with a high gluten content, such as extra-strong or Canadian flour, which has 12-15% gluten. These types of flour will give your bread a better rise than all-purpose flour.
You can also purchase vital wheat gluten, which you add to all-purpose or whole-grain flour for lift. Add 1 teaspoon gluten for every cup flour used.
Ascorbic acid or vitamin C is a helpful additive that can replace bread improver.
Vitamin C is commonly found in commercially available bread improver, as well as quick-rise or instant yeast.
This acidic ingredient strengthens the gluten in your dough, speeding up the proofing process and improving the bread’s lift.
Vitamin C is particularly useful if you’re making wholemeal bread, which can be dense, or if you’re using a bread machine.
However, if you’re leaving your dough for a long, slow rise, don’t add ascorbic acid, as you risk overproofing.
Add ¼ teaspoon ascorbic acid powder to wet ingredients for a single loaf.
Alternatively, grind a vitamin C tablet and add a pinch, or add a dash of lemon or orange juice or apple cider vinegar.
Diastatic Malt Powder
Another bread improver alternative is diastatic malt powder.
Malt powder is made from ground barley that has been allowed to germinate.
The germination process develops diastase enzymes that break starches into sugar. Diastatic malt powder still contains these active enzymes that function as natural bread improvers.
Many commercial bakeries add diastatic malt powder or flour to their dough.
This product increases the yeast’s fermentation process and thus reduces proofing time, develops a more substantial rise, relaxes the dough, creates a tender crumb, and produces an appealing brown crust.
Malt powder also adds a mild malt flavor (think of soft pretzels) and helps to preserve the bread.
If your flour doesn’t contain barley malt, it’s worthwhile adding some, especially if you’re using organic or wholewheat flour, as it adds airiness and springiness.
Use ½ to 1 teaspoon for every three cups of flour.
An excellent substitute for bread improver is a popular pantry ingredient, instant potato flakes.
Potato flakes or instant dried mashed potato is a handy addition to the dough because it strengthens gluten.
The sticky starch that potatoes contain attaches to the gluten web, enabling it to hold air bubbles as the dough rises.
Adding potato flakes thus creates bread with a delicate, fluffy texture without the potato flavor.
Use ¼ cup potato flakes for each loaf of bread.
If you don’t have potato flakes, you can add the water used to boil potatoes to replace the liquid in your dough. Freeze the potato water so that you have it handy when you bake bread.
Try chickpea flour as an alternative to bread improver.
Chickpea, garbanzo bean, besan, or gram flour is unusual in that it’s gluten-free. Bakers use this flour to produce goods for people with gluten intolerances, allergies, or celiac disease.
Despite containing no gluten, the proteins in chickpea flour have excellent binding qualities, helping the dough to rise and create structure.
Adding chickpea flour to the dough also improves yeast growth through fermentation, which speeds up proofing, and enhances flavor and nutrition.
Replace up to ⅓ of your recipe’s flour with chickpea flour.
Replace bread improver with lecithin to create soft, tender-crumbed bread.
Lecithin is a fatty nutrient vital to human health. It occurs naturally in traditional bread ingredients in egg yolks, olive oil, milk, and butter. Most ready-made bread improvers contain lecithin from soybeans.
Lecithin makes the dough more elastic, trapping air for enhanced proofing and rising. Air creates a deliciously soft texture and tenderizes the crust.
Consider, for instance, the role of butter in making brioche, olive oil in focaccia, or milk in challah.
Soy lecithin has the additional task of being a preservative, prolonging the shelf-life of bread.
Buy soy lecithin as a liquid or granules, which you add to the wet ingredients. Replace bread improver with ½ teaspoon lecithin per loaf.
A simple alternative is to use egg yolk or a tablespoon of dry milk powder, which contains lecithin and adds richness to your dough.
Spicy ginger is a handy replacement for bread improver.
Usually sprinkled into holiday bakes, this zesty, aromatic spice is made of ground, dried ginger root.
As a dough enhancer, ginger has two functions. First, ginger is a preservative, keeping your bread fresh.
More importantly, ginger livens up yeast, the organism that makes bread rise.
Bread recipes start by activating yeast with warm water, milk, and sugar. The yeast ferments, producing air that leavens the dough and creates soft, springy bread.
Yeast thrives on ginger, so add ¼ teaspoon per loaf, adding it along with the yeast. The flavor won’t be noticeable.
Use sugar as a substitute for bread improver.
Many recipes include a couple of spoons of sugar to activate the yeast. Getting the yeast to ferment effectively improves the amount of air in your dough and, thus, the lightness of the final bread.
Sugar also helps with caramelizing and browning the crust and adding flavor.
Add a little sugar if you don’t have bread improver and the recipe doesn’t call for it.
DIY Bread Improver
You can make homemade bread improver to as a substitute for storebought.
This recipe for DIY bread improver combines many of the abovementioned ingredients and will enhance your bread’s lift, texture, crust, and flavor. You’ll find yourself baking light, fluffy loaves that tend to last longer.
Note that the amounts given will make about two cups of bread improver.
Combine 1 cup vital wheat gluten, ½ cup powdered milk, two tablespoons soy lecithin granules, two tablespoons powdered fruit pectin, two tablespoons unflavored gelatin, one teaspoon powdered ascorbic acid, and one teaspoon ground ginger.
Store the DIY bread improver in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Add 3 tablespoons of bread improver per loaf.