Standard bread improvers contain three main components:

An oxidising agent, e.g. ascorbic acid, that breaks down the natural glutathione (SH) bonds in the flour and results in the formation of di-sulphide bonds (SS), which strengthen the gluten network during dough development.

Enzymes, such as fungal α-amylase that are added to break down starch molecules into simple sugars, digested by the yeast to help with fermentation.

Emulsifiers to stabilise the gluten network and improve the dough’s gas holding ability. Emulsifiers also help to reduce staling, inhibiting recrystallisation of the starch in the final product.

These functions are important for commercial bread production by eliminating the need for bulk fermentation, and creating quality and consistency in products.

Katie-Joy Woods, bakery technologist, Campden BRI

Campden BRI provides technical support to the food, drinks and allied industries worldwide. Its activities are built on a programme of industrial relevant research and innovation steered by industry. See or telephone 01386 842000