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My recipe says 1 tablespoon of sugar per loaf.

This seems like too small an amount for flavor.

The recipe is as follows:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons active-dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup water
  • knead, wait 1 hr, knead again, wait 1.25 hr, bake for 30min @ 350

Is this for flavor, or is there another purpose?

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Simple test. Make a loaf with, and without. And see what happens. It's mainly there as feed for the yeast so you don't have to wait all day for it to rise –  TFD Oct 2 '12 at 8:09
    
@TFD You do realize OP is most likely asking so he doesn't have to test both, right? –  Kareen Feb 28 '13 at 1:56
    
FWIW, I've tried many different amounts. I've settled on 2 tablespoons of sugar per loaf as a good balance between rise, flavor, and health –  George W Bush Feb 28 '13 at 3:20
    
I actually use acacia honey instead of sugar. Unlike sugar, honey is not an empty calorie, and it makes even the simplest boring bread taste nice(white plain french bread). lukewarm water, 20-50g yeast, honey, add flour, oil and coarse sea salt, knead, rise, shape it, rise, oven. –  Michael Nielsen May 12 '13 at 7:21
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2 Answers

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Sugar has a few effects in bread:

  • It helps make it soft and tender by absorbing some of the water and slowing down the formation of gluten strands.

  • It feeds the yeast, resulting in a faster rise.

  • Via caramelisation, it aids in the browning of the crust.

  • It acts as a preservative, keeping the bread fresher for longer (though 1tbsp probably doesn't make a lot of difference).

  • It does have some effect on the flavour.

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1  
Probably not a preservative because molds adore sugar and will happily reproduce in a sugary environment, unless it is too sugary (in which case osmotic pressure will kill the mold). +1 for the rest. –  Mischa Arefiev Oct 2 '12 at 8:28
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@MischaArefiev It certainly won't stop bacterial or mold growth in these amounts. But I think that a sugared dough will keep moisture for a longer time, which will really keep the bread fresh (as opposed to stale, not mouldy) a bit longer. –  rumtscho Oct 2 '12 at 9:31
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See the amount of sugar in the average fast food bun. Combined with vacuum packing, they're virtually indestructible. –  ElendilTheTall Oct 2 '12 at 11:40
4  
@ElendilTheTall- Very correct and succinct answer. But you'll never get ahead this way. You need to ramble on in impressive paragraphs so people will be convinced of your knowledge but won't actually read your answer. Kind of like this comment. –  Sobachatina Oct 2 '12 at 14:03
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Dammit, you're right. And you need to bold what you think is important too. –  ElendilTheTall Oct 2 '12 at 14:45
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The main reason is yeast food. You may not actually need it if you're using instant yeast; either that, or you can bump it up a little for a slightly sweeter bread.

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