Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Experimenting with dough enhancer and Pumpkin Pie Brioche

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been testing Shirley J’s dough enhancer in some of the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes’ breads. The HBn5 recipes call for vital wheat gluten and that’s what I normally use. I had never tried a dough enhancer so when Amanda from Shirley J contacted me to see if I would like to test their dough enhancer, I thought it would be a fun experiment. 



Vital Wheat Gluten vs. Dough Enhancer

In case you’re wondering, vital wheat gluten is flour with the starch and bran removed. What you end up with is the natural protein in wheat – about 75% protein.  When you add vital wheat gluten to yeast bread recipes, it improves the texture and elasticity of the dough. Source:

A dough enhancer is a natural product that is used to make the protein in the flour more elastic.  According to the folks at Shirley J, the finished dough will be more elastic, softer, have a finer texture and will rise better in the proofing stage which results in a bread with a much better volume. Source:


Pumpkin Pie Brioche Loaves with and without dough enhancer



The above photo features two loaves of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes Pumpkin Pie Brioche.  The loaf on the right was made with the Shirley J Dough Enhancer and the one on the left was made without vital wheat gluten or a dough enhancer.

This bread includes all-purpose flour and white whole wheat flour so the difference is not as dramatic as it would be with an all whole wheat bread.  However, you can definitely tell that the loaf on the right has higher volume than the loaf on the left. 


Pumpkin Pie Brioche Recipe

If you want to make a loaf of this delicious Pumpkin Pie Brioche, you’ll find a link to the original recipe here.  I cut the recipe in half for this experiment and used 1/2 tablespoon of dough enhancer instead of 1 tablespoon of vital wheat gluten. You can make it with or without the dough enhancer or with or without the vital wheat gluten.

The suggested amount of dough enhancer to use is 1 level tablespoon of Shirley J Dough Enhancer to a whole wheat bread that uses 6 cups of whole wheat flour. Since I halved the Pumpkin Pie Brioche recipe, I only used 1 1/2 cups of white whole wheat and 2 1/4 cups of all-purpose; therefore, I used 1/2 tablespoon of the dough enhancer.


Side-by-comparisons of the loaves throughout the proofing, baking and cooling process

Here is a comparison of the dough as it was rising in the pan.  The pan on the right is the one with the dough enhancer. As you can see, the dough in the pan on the right has greater volume.  It also looks a little bit fluffier (or lighter).  I used the same size/type of pan for each loaf because I wanted to keep all of the variables the same except the dough enhancer.  You might not see it in this photo, but I marked an X with a Sharpie pen on the pan with the dough enhancer so I wouldn’t get the loaves mixed up.




I decided to slash these loaves for more effect.  You can see the X in this photo.



Here are the baked loaves just out of the oven.  The one on the right looks a little bit bigger but it’s hard to tell at this point.



Here are the loaves out of the pan.  I’m starting to see a little bit of a difference in size.



The loaves are cooling side-by-side.  I can definitely see the difference in volume now.



Here is another view of the cooled and sliced loaves.  There you go…



Then came the taste test.  Both loaves tasted yummy!  Pumpkin Pie Brioche is one of my favorite Healthy Bread in Five Minutes’ doughs so I was already familiar with how it should taste and what the texture should be like.

The main thing I noticed about the two loaves (besides the volume) was in the texture and the taste of the bread made with the dough enhancer. The promotional material for the dough enhancer claimed that homemade bread made with Shirley J Dough Enhancer would slice more smoothly with far less crumbling than regular bread.  To be honest, I was skeptical of this claim; however, after the loaves were baked and cooled, I tested it and found that the bread with the dough enhancer was a little less crumbly, and I even noticed a little flavor boost compared to the other loaf. 


I generally prefer to bake with the simplest of ingredients, but I had fun with this experiment. 

You can try this experiment for yourself with Shirley J Dough Enhancer and see if it improves the texture and flavor of your homemade whole wheat bread. 


Happy Baking!



I was sent the dough enhancer as compensation to try out for my review. All views are expressly my own.

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