When baking homemade bread, achieving a soft and airy texture is the priority. The purpose of my article is to explain if it is possible to get softer bread by adding more yeast. Yeast is an essential ingredient in bread dough and influences the appearance and taste of the final product.
Although yeast is a vital ingredient in bread-making, the quantity of yeast alone does not determine the softness of the final product. Other factors also impact the texture of bread. Adding more yeast to the bread dough will make it rise faster. You can get the same rise with less yeast, but it will take more time. In addition the amount of yeast, it is also important to note that the temperature of the dough also affects the rate of rising. If you work with warmer dough, you will need less yeast, if you work with cooler dough, you will need more.
What happens if there is too much yeast in the bread dough?
If too much yeast is added to bread dough, it will rise too quickly and the flavors will not have enough time to develop. Additionally, the bread might taste bitter.
Achieving the ideal balance between the yeast quantity, dough temperature, and fermentation duration requires practice. It is best to follow the instructions given in the recipe you are using.
What factors affect the softness of bread?
The quality of the ingredients, the hydration of the dough, the kneading technique, and the fermentation time largely determine the bread’s softness.
The type of the flour
It is important to choose the right type of flour for making bread. For example, cake flour cannot produce a well-structured bread dough.
By using flours with a protein content of 11.5 to 13% you can make bread with a softer crumb. Flours with a high protein content of 13 to 14.5% make bread firmer and chewier.
Use of dough conditioners
For homemade bread, you can use conditioners such as milk, butter, olive oil, egg yolks, sugar, or boiled, mashed potatoes, which make the crumb softer. Due to their longer shelf life, the addition of milk powder and dried potato powder to bread dough is even easier. Although dough conditioners can soften the crumb, they can also cause the crust to be softer.
Fat and sugar additives are used in commercial bread to make and keep the final product soft.
While we’re on the subject of dough conditioners, you might be interested in my article on how adding too much oil affects bread dough.
The hydration of the dough
The hydration of the dough refers to the amount of added liquid. If you use too little liquid in the dough will result in dense and tough bread. If you add excessive water, the dough will have a weak structure, and this results in flat and denser bread.
Bread will be softer if it is made with milk or fermented milk products such as cultured buttermilk or whey instead of water. Lactose and milk fat make the crumb tender.
Hydration of the flour results in gluten formation, enzyme activation, and the swelling of starches. The higher the protein content of the flour, the more water it requires. Water also plays an essential role in yeast fermentation.
Mixing or kneading
To achieve soft bread, it must have a well-developed gluten structure that keeps carbon dioxide produced by the yeast in the dough, resulting in an airy crumb.
The development of gluten begins with the hydration of flour. Then, the gluten strands develop during the dough mixing. Both undermixed and the overmixed dough will result in bread with a firmer and denser texture.
Doughs containing fats, eggs, and sugar require longer mixing times because these ingredients make it difficult for gluten to develop. Doughs with added grains or bran also require longer mixing times, as they tend to cut the gluten strands.
In no-knead bread, the gluten develops during the long resting time without kneading.
Temperature and duration of dough fermentation
Once the yeast has consumed all available nutrients, fermentation ceases. The more yeast there is, the faster this happens. Fermentation occurs more quickly in a warm environment than in a cool place.
If fermentation is longer, more time is available for the formation of acids. These substances, produced by lactic acid bacteria, add flavor to the bread, help strengthen the gluten structure, and prolong the freshness of the bread.
The importance of degassing the dough
During the first rising phase of the dough, which is also called bulk fermentation, yeast consumes available sugars and can no longer work. By the end of the first rise, the dough’s volume will have approximately doubled. At this point, it is necessary to degas and fold the dough so the yeast can get fresh nutrients and continue fermentation.
By degassing the dough – expelling some of the carbon dioxide produced by the yeast – the gluten structure strengthens and allows the dough to rise further. For more information on the subject, I recommend reading my article on how many times the dough should be degassed.
Proofing the dough
Proofing is the final fermentation stage of bread dough before baking and significantly impacts bread texture and softness. The over-proofed dough can result in a dense and gummy crumb.
Ultimately, the quantity of yeast is not the sole determinant of bread’s softness and texture. The type of flour, dough hydration, ingredients, and kneading and fermentation methods all play vital roles in the bread’s softness. However, excessive yeast can negatively impact texture and flavor.