For ages, vinegar has been a trusted home remedy, used to treat a variety of ailments. It’s known to kill the yeast. Thus, it’s used to treat yeast and other fungal infections in the body. Given this characteristic, you may wonder why and how vinegar is used in baking.
If it kills yeast in other places, will vinegar kill yeast in bread? So, yes, the acid in vinegar kills the yeast when the two mix directly. When yeast can’t grow, the fermentation process stops, and your dough won’t rise. Now, a small amount of vinegar added to bread dough with yeast is a different matter. Adding vinegar to the dough actually increases the yeast’s ability to make the dough rise
The vinegar also aids in creating gluten and developing the dough’s flavor. Because of this, vinegar is an ingredient in more bread recipes than you may think.
What types of vinegar can you use for baking bread, and how does it work with yeast? Let’s find out.
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- Dutch oven
- Large mixing bowl
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Bread thermometer (fancy or a budget one)
- Scoring lame
Extra (nice to have):
- Kitchen scale
- Dough scraper and bowl scraper (yes, they are different)
- Cooling rack
- Baking stone (you don’t need a dutch oven if you use this)
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Types of Vinegar to Use for Baking
The most common type of vinegar for baking is plain white vinegar. It has a mild, uncomplicated flavor. Manufacturers produce it by distilling alcoholic spirits from corn and rye.
The other commonly used type is cider vinegar, which is made from fermenting apples. It has a sweeter flavor than white vinegar.
Neither type leave a vinegary aftertaste behind when you use it in bread or cake recipes. You’ll hear about Balsamic vinegar in recipes.
Because it’s made from unfermented grape syrup, it has a stronger, more distinct flavor. You’ll want to reserve it for only those recipes that call for it.
How Vinegar Works in Bread Recipes
Yeast is a leavening agent. As it ferments, it produces carbon dioxide bubbles, which make the dough rise and puff up. Inside the bread dough, a lot of stuff is happening besides the fermentation process associated with yeast.
Vinegar enhances the chemical reactions within the dough by increasing the dough’s acidity. Increasing the acidy slows down the fermentation process (it doesn’t stop it altogether), which gives gluten better opportunity to form. As it forms, it traps carbon dioxide.
Vinegar also reacts with baking soda and creates more creating carbon dioxide gas. The happy effect here is that cookies and cakes rise better as they bake. Bread rises higher as well and yields a more refined texture.
Adding Too Much Vinegar
Most bakers recommend adding one tablespoon of vinegar to the dough for every 2 ½ cups flour in the recipe. If you have soft water in your kitchen, it can weaken gluten. So, a little vinegar improves your bread’s quality.
However, it is possible to add too much vinegar. Adding too much acid can halt the yeast’s fermentation too much. It can also hinder browning. One tablespoon is the max amount of vinegar you can add to a large bread recipe.
Using Vinegar to Enhance Flavor
In addition to creating a better rise and texture, adding vinegar into bread dough also enhances the flavor, of your bread. If you like sourdough bread, then you can readily accept this idea.
Vinegar is a mild acid that helps break down the starches and proteins in the dough, which improves flavor. You get just a touch of tanginess to turn a plain bread into something more remarkable.
Vinegar as a Substitute
Vinegar also comes in handy as a substitute for other acidic ingredients. For example, if you’re in the middle of a recipe that requires buttermilk, you can use vinegar instead if you’re out of buttermilk.
Just add one tablespoon of milk and vinegar to a measuring cup. Then, let it stand for five minutes. After that, you can use it as you would buttermilk.
You can also substitute vinegar for lemon. Add a ½ teaspoon of vinegar for each teaspoon of lemon juice in your recipe. Finally, you can swap vinegar for wine by diluting 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water.
Making Vinegar Dough
Any vinegar dough recipe begins with a yeast starter. You proof the yeast with sugar and water. Then, you add it to the dough’s dry ingredients and mix.
At this point, most recipes call for you to add a tablespoon of vinegar to the dough after you add the yeast.
The single tablespoon of vinegar has a mild taste and won’t sour the dough. It acts as a dough conditioner as it slows down the yeast.
Doing so creates stronger gluten sheets within the dough. Any more than that may kill off the yeast and destroy the gluten sheets.
Sourdough is the most widely known type of bread made with vinegar dough. It typically contains a mix of grains that contain a significant number of polyssacharates.
By adding vinegar to sourdough, you make it acidic, thus breaking down the polysaccharates.
Doing this makes the bread softer and better-tasting. The gluten has more time to form, and the result is a soft loaf.
Most sourdough recipes require cider vinegar and buttermilk combined with proved yeast along with salt, sugar, and wheat flour.
Other Vinegar Dough Recipes
In addition to sourdough, buttermilk bread is another favorite. You prepare the dough by adding apple cider vinegar to a yeast, honey, flour, buttermilk, and sugar mix.
While not exactly bread, gingerbread cookies are a holiday favorite that you prepare by adding vinegar to the wheat flour, vanilla, butter, sugar, cloves, molasses, nutmeg, sugar, and corn syrup. You then shape the dough into cookies and bake.
Believe it or not, vinegar cookies are a favorite drop cookie recipe. To make, you combine the vinegar with vanilla, eggs, almond flavoring, brown sugar, butter, baking soda, flour, baking powder, nuts, and chocolate chips.
Yes, vinegar does kill yeast in bread. Even so, understanding the chemical reaction that occurs when vinegar is introduced to yeast can be beneficial.
Too much vinegar may kill yeast, but just the right amount can result in a wonderful, soft, flavorful bread. Vinegar conditions the dough encourages gluten production and enhances flavor.