Take the 2-minute tour ×
Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Yesterday I made bread based on a recipe I found on the flour bag. It contained both rye and wheat flour but also three tablespoons of vinegar. I've never seen it used in bread before, why is it there?

share|improve this question
add comment

6 Answers 6

Another reason you can use vinegar in a bread recipe - to produce a sourdough. Under traditional methods of making a sourdough bread, one keeps a 'sour' (sponge) or a piece of dough from the days previous production, which acts as a starter for the current bread. In many of todays commercial bakeries (grocery stores, etc.), sours are not kept from day to day, and powdered substitutes are used. They are normally just a glorified acetic acid (in a powdered form). So, you can just use vinegar to produce the same results.

share|improve this answer
1  
Since there is rye in the dough, I could definitely see the intent being to produce a sourdough-like flavor. –  justkt Dec 9 '10 at 14:00
1  
Yep, that's right. One thing that most people don't understand is that rye bread is a sourdough bread. It's always made off of a rye sour. –  mrwienerdog Dec 9 '10 at 21:40
1  
This recipe didn't contain any sourdough starter of any kind, just yeast. –  johnny Dec 10 '10 at 7:52
    
Oh, I never said it did have a sour starter. The vinegar is used as a replacement for the starter. –  mrwienerdog Dec 10 '10 at 23:49
    
Then there is something wrong with the recipe. You can't leaven rye with yeast, the enzymes in the rye prevent it. Maybe, if it is a mixed recipe with a high wheat-to-rye ratio, the yeast will still work, but I'm not sure why you would need to imitate a sour taste through vinegar then. –  rumtscho Dec 4 '11 at 19:17
show 2 more comments

If it contained a high amount of rye flour, an acid would be needed for the bread to leaven. This is because bread with lots of rye rises due to polysaccharates called "pentosans" (if i remember correctly) being sticky and holding in the carbon dioxide bubbles. With heat, an enzyme in rye called "amylase" will start eating up the pentosans, unless the amylase is deactivated with acidity (wheat flour uses a protein called "gluten" to trap bubbles, and its amylase is deactivated with heat anyhow). The acidity is traditionally lactic acid, produced by lactobacilli bacteria in sourdough, but could be vinegar.

If it's mostly wheat flour (i.e. if you have to knead it), the vinegar would just be for flavour.

share|improve this answer
add comment

When I asked this question - Is there anything I can add to homemade bread to preserve it? - Arafangion said that one commercial bread company now uses vinegar as a preservative. This is his answer to my question:

"One commercial bread company has switched preservatives... They use vinegar (I suspect ordinary white vinegar).

Maybe you could give a little bit of vinegar a go and see how that works? You can still smell it if you sniff and sandwiches do have a faint vinegar flavour, but it seems to work well enough for the company and it apparently hasn't sabotaged the product line...

Then again, it /is/ commercial bread..."

share|improve this answer
    
Thank you for answering. I'd still like to think that there's another explanation. I've never seen homemade bread recipes that contains something which only purpose is acting as a preservative. –  johnny Dec 9 '10 at 11:49
add comment

It might also, in addition to something like bicarbonate soda act as a raising agent for some types of bread - the reaction of the vinegar with the bicarb causing gas release causing rising.

This is only a guess however

share|improve this answer
add comment

I've found that a lower pH (more acidity) weakens the gluten and makes the crumb less chewey or less rubbery.
Certainly one thing to try before taking the step of adding vinegar to a bread recipe is to replace any bread flour with general purpose flour instead -- it should have the same effect.

share|improve this answer
    
Never make a bread with an all-purpose flour. Big no-no. Acidity does not weaken the gluten, it serves to speed gluten formation. This means that a bread will be properly mixed (gluten properly formed) sooner when you are mixing a sour bread when compared to mixing a 'regular' bread. In turn, the dough will be over mixed if you mix it the same amount of time you would mix that regular bread. So the acidity just speeds up the whole gluten cycle. –  mrwienerdog Jan 1 '11 at 16:53
    
@mrwienerdog: See cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/19577/vinegar-in-pie-crust/… with respect to acidity. Also I think you're being way too negative about all-purpose flour. It may not be ideal for breads, but it does work. And if you're trying to weaken gluten structure, well, bread flour's primary difference compared to all-purpose flour is increased gluten... –  Jefromi Dec 11 '11 at 18:49
    
@mrwienerdog Acidity is used in bread dough as an oxidizer. It doesn't speed gluten formation, but it makes the links in the gluten stronger (frequently making the dough stiffer). Reducing agents are actually what speeds gluten formation, though they are frequently used in conjunction with an oxidizer. –  sourd'oh Dec 24 '13 at 20:32
    
You can't tell me that it doesn't speed gluten formation. That's simply not true. If you replace 5 percent of the water in your mix with vinegar, it will DEFINITELY be mixed quicker. –  mrwienerdog Feb 18 at 21:04
add comment

In making faster no-Knead bread Jim Lahey suggest adding 4 drops or up to 1/4 tsp of red wine vinegar to the basic recipe. Improve gluten development and flavor. See the video with Mark Bittman here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/08/dining/08mini.html?ref=dining

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.