Vinegar in Bread (Complete Guide)
What do you use vinegar for in your household?
It’s known for being used for certain cooking purposes but also being popular for cleaning purposes as well.
There are several different types of vinegar out there and while it’s not a “go-to” ingredient in all cooking, it still serves some pretty amazing purposes at times.
Have you ever tried to use vinegar in baking?
Many people don’t know the secrets of using vinegar in baking and maybe you even scrunched up your nose when you thought about it. However, vinegar has some surprising benefits for baking, particularly with making bread and you just might be surprised.
What does vinegar do for bread? Vinegar in bread dough reacts with the baking soda and helps the dough rise better while it is in the oven. It can help the bread rise and bake faster and save time on kneading.
Vinegar is awesome if you don’t want to knead as much or if perhaps you want your bread to rise more quickly. Ultimately, vinegar will make the rising time go much faster.
In this guide, we will share with you all of the details about using vinegar in bread. We will go through a more detailed discussion of just what it does, talk about the type of vinegar you can use, and when or how to use it properly.
We have a lot of great details and helpful information to share with you for a complete guide to vinegar in bread.
Keep reading to learn more about vinegar in bread!
Can You REALLY Put Vinegar in Bread Dough?
Yes! Vinegar and bread dough work really well together when used for specific purposes.
There’s a logic behind how and why it works so we will do our best to try to convey that here, but the basics of vinegar and bread dough is that it causes a faster rising effect so you can enjoy your bread that much sooner.
So how does vinegar work in bread?
Ultimately, using vinegar in your bread dough will abrupt the pH levels of the dough. The abruption is good and the end result helps the bread to rise better and faster, gives it an airy texture, improves the flavor, and makes the crust moist as well.
All of this happens because vinegar is an acidic ingredient. It’s a very mild acid but that acid works to break down both proteins and starches in the dough. This is what changes the pH levels.
The vinegar creates a chemical reaction with the baking soda that is always in your dough. When you combine vinegar and then leave it there, it gradually dissolves the protein threads in the dough.
That action ultimately will tenderize and reduce the gluten within the dough.
The protein bonds that were previously dissolving reform but they do so in a different structure. With that new structure, new air pockets are made and the gluten structure of your do is strengthened by the reaction.
That’s the scientific side of the story as to how the vinegar really works within the dough.
In short, using vinegar can help with shorter rising times and shorter kneading times and will impact the end result of your bread from both of those details. It also will enhance the flavor, give your bread an airy texture, and keep it moist.
How Does Vinegar Affect Bread Flavor?
We mentioned that vinegar will affect the flavor of your bread.
It does, but you won’t get bread that tastes like vinegar. Instead, it will enhance the flavor of your bread because of that reaction with the other ingredients.
Since vinegar is an organic acid, it actually improves the various properties of the dough.
Here’s the thing, when your dough is fermenting, it is producing acetic acid. Vinegar simply adds to the acetic acid and improves the effect or makes it happen faster.
This means your bread is getting that artisanal, fresh flavor that usually comes from hours of fermenting but it does it in far less time. You get the effects of slow fermentation and rising without the hours or even days that might go into that process otherwise.
The result is an aromatic difference in the bread scent as well as the bread flavor.
How To Use Vinegar When Baking Bread
If you’re going to try adding vinegar to your bread, you need to know how to do it properly. You don’t want to just dump a bunch of vinegar in there and ruin your bread. There is an ideal time and way to use vinegar in bread dough.
If you add too much vinegar to the dough, it might actually have the opposite effect of what you are going for. Too much vinegar will completely kill your yeast and cause it to be ineffective so the result will be lifeless bread that doesn’t rise.
You’ve got to hit the sweet spot with the bread and vinegar mixture to get the desired results. Just like you need to hit the sweet spot with every other ingredient out there that you might be using.
Using Vinegar In Bread, Step By Step
So how do you add vinegar to your bread? You are actually just going to replace the egg that might be in the bread and use vinegar instead.
- Check your recipe for eggs required.
- Replace 1 egg with a vinegar and baking soda mix
- To substitute for that 1 egg, mix together 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon vinegar.
- Mix into the dough.
Side note here: We mention one egg so you can either use this exact ratio for every egg called for or you can just replace one egg. We recommend replacing all eggs with this ratio used for each egg in the recipe.
Using Vinegar In Bread Recipes Without Eggs
If your recipe does not call for eggs, you can try this option instead:
- Check out how many cups of flour are called for in the bread dough.
- For every 2 1/2 cups of flour, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar into the dough mixture.
Either of these methods is pretty simple and you can use whichever one seems to work best for your recipe.
There are a lot of bread recipes that do not call for eggs so in that case, you should use the recipe for measuring vinegar according to the amount of flour.
You can also use this detail for baking cakes or muffins too. Again, you can use the egg replacement or the flour addition. If egg is included, we recommend substituting your vinegar mixture for the eggs for those particular items.
What Type of Vinegar To Use When Baking Bread
Next up, let’s talk just a moment about what type of vinegar you should use for baking.
There are a lot of different vinegar options out there and while you can probably just use whatever you have on hand, there is a recommendation for which works best.
In this case, we recommend using white vinegar. In fact, the general understanding is that when a recipe calls for vinegar it just assumes white vinegar.
However, if you happen to have apple cider vinegar, you could probably get away with using that instead if you want to.
In this case, we recommend white vinegar for the best results but other types of vinegar would do if that is all you happen to have available.
Is Using Vinegar Necessary When Baking Bread?
Vinegar is not necessary to add when baking bread, although your bread might improve from using it. In fact, you will find there are an awful lot of recipes out there that don’t call for vinegar.
If you want to use vinegar in those recipes, you just need to follow the substitution or addition guidelines we shared earlier in this guide.
If a recipe calls for vinegar specifically then you should assume the recipe was created around the use of vinegar as part of the recipe. If you simply just skip the vinegar, you might ruin the bread.
In this case, if you don’t want to use vinegar, you should either look for an alternative recipe or go ahead and use vinegar, or an acceptable substitute.
This is the same for any type of baking recipe that calls for vinegar.
If the recipe calls for it, the outcome may very well depend on using it. You might not notice a difference in flavor from skipping it but your bread or other baked items will most likely suffer in rising, texture, airiness, and even moistness.
Skipping it when it is included in the recipe will most likely negatively affect the outcome of your bread.
Can You Use A Substitute For Vinegar In Baking?
Unfortunately, there really isn’t a lot of choice when you need vinegar for baking. You could substitute lemon juice instead but be aware that doing so will most likely affect the flavor.
Lemon juice is also acidic so it will have similar effects with rising and the end texture and airiness. However, you may also have the distinct lemon flavor from using lemon juice as opposed to white vinegar.
If you decide to substitute lemon juice for your vinegar, the ratio is approximately 1/3 cup of lemon juice to each 1/4 cup of vinegar. It’s not a perfect trade and figuring out the right ratio for making the adjustment can definitely be challenging.
Additional Uses For Vinegar In Baking
While vinegar can certainly make a positive improvement for your bread, cake, or other baked goods, it can be used for other things too.
The nice thing about vinegar is that it is primarily tasteless when used in baking but it can produce some awesome side effects in many cases. You probably won’t make your bread or other items taste like vinegar unless you simply use too much.
We have a couple of other unique uses for vinegar in baking that you might not be aware of so check these out.
Minimizes Poor Effects Of Soft Water
If you know that you have soft water, this can actually harm your bread. Normally, soft water is a good thing but in bread dough, it has been known to weaken the gluten within the dough mixture.
A great way to combat that effect is to add vinegar to your bread. You should add it to your recipe based on the guidelines we provided earlier in this guide.
Vinegar can help frosting that doesn’t appear to be cooperating well. You want to use a very small amount so you don’t change the flavor of your frosting.
If your frosting needs a little bit of help or you want to make it creamier, add about 1/2 a teaspoon of vinegar to a single batch of frosting and mix it in really well. What will happen is the frosting will become creamy and even a bit glossy.
It will refresh the look, make it a little fluffier, and no one will ever notice that there is vinegar in their frosting. It’s really pretty crazy!
Have a recipe that calls for buttermilk? Did you know you can just make your own buttermilk? There’s no need to go out and try to buy buttermilk when you only need probably a half a cup or less.
Instead, just grab your regular milk and some vinegar to make your own buttermilk. This works awesome in just a few minutes!
Measure out the milk for the amount of buttermilk required in the recipe. Add about 1 tablespoon of vinegar to the milk and stir it in. Leave the mixture to sit for about 5 minutes.
When you return, give it a quick stir and use the mixture as buttermilk.
Substitutes For Lemon Or Wine
Finally, you can also use vinegar as a substitute when a recipe calls for lemon juice or for wine.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar for each 1 teaspoon of lemon juice that your recipe calls for and it works as a substitute, it just won’t have the lemon flavor.
When your recipe calls for wine, you can use a water and vinegar mixture. Simply create a solution that is 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water based on how much wine your recipe called for.
We hope that this guide to understanding how to use vinegar in bread is a helpful resource for you. Vinegar can really improve your bread and make the process go a little faster. It’s certainly worth a try.
We invite you to review the following question and answer section for some additional information that may be useful for you.
Which Vinegar Should I Use For Baking?
The best vinegar to use is white vinegar. This is the most common vinegar used for baking or cooking purposes.
If you see vinegar in a recipe and the type isn’t specified, white vinegar is the default type. You can also use apple cider vinegar in equal amounts if you prefer.
Does Vinegar Leave An Aftertaste In Bread?
If you use the right amount of vinegar, the only thing it will do to your flavor is improve it. If your bread tastes like vinegar, you most likely used too much in the process.
Can You Use Vinegar In Pizza Dough?
You can add yeast to pizza dough as it is a form of bread dough. You will add it using some of the same guidelines that we provided earlier in this guide.
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