The New Bakers Dozen
Ascorbic Acid

The The Bakers Dozen: Ascorbic Acid
By Marc_Abc (Marc_Abc) on Sunday, February 13, 2005 - 10:21 pm: Edit

I've worked at 7 artisan bread bakeries and it was only at one that we used Ascorbic Acid. (about .05% taken from a 990g + 10g mixture of flour to AA). The bread at all these bakeries was good. So, from experience, I know that AA isn't necessary to make good bread.

But could it be? Could it solve certain problems? Or is it just a European thing that isn't necessary with our American milled flour? Any ideas or general info on ascorbic acid would be much appreciated.

Thx in advance,

By Foodpump (Foodpump) on Sunday, February 13, 2005 - 10:46 pm: Edit

Now, I'm not a baker but I know that ascorbic acid, a.k.a potato white, a.k.a. vitamin "C", a.k.a. lemon juice, has one job, and one job only to do. It "tightens" the dough, doing the same job 100% high gluten flour would do.
If your dough is flabby, if the bread is free form and spreads out too much before fully proofed, then the AA trick comes in handy.

By Santamuerte (Santamuerte) on Sunday, February 13, 2005 - 11:10 pm: Edit

AA creates an acidic environment that yeast tolerate well, but which is hostile to molds and bacteria. that, plus its anti-oxidant properties, will give your bread a longer shelf life.

it also affects starch and gluten, and mimics the digestive action of the yeast to some extent. all things being equal, AA will produce a lighter, smoother crumb with shorter/fewer rising periods.

the same texture can be achieved simply by prolonging the yeast action. AA can be a huge help in a production environment, but at home, i prefer using the fridge to retard the dough for a couple of days before baking. i think that ultimately gives better results, but AA is by no means a bad shortcut.

By Marc_Abc (Marc_Abc) on Sunday, February 13, 2005 - 11:44 pm: Edit

Thanks for your quick responses. I had a feeling about all that you guys mentioned. Things are usually not as complicated as they seem. I was thinking mostly about shelf life, as you mentioned Sant., and its nice to know that the option is there for certain breads.
In the "bread world" AA seems to be one of those accepted shortcuts, i.e. can use it without sacrificing integrity of bread.

I've been wondering why our Anadama bread has a tight elasticity and now I realize its because of the lemon juice! I never put 2 and 2 together on that one.

Thanks again all

By Doucefrance (Doucefrance) on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 10:22 am: Edit

AA is often used in Europe to compensate weak gluten, you in the US have flour with strong gluten so no problem...

By Santamuerte (Santamuerte) on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 08:35 am: Edit

actually, DF, there are some differences. if you add extra gluten or use a high-protien (e.g. 12%+) flour, you will get good elasticity with a dense, chewey crumb, and a thick, hard crust. if you use AA, you will get a more elastic, "silkier" dough and crumb, and a thinner, crackly crust, more like pain parisien. it all depends on what you're aiming for, but the two are not quite the same.

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