What is the purpose of sugar in baking plain bread?

Brian Webster
  • What is the purpose of sugar in baking plain bread? Brian Webster

    My recipe says 1 tablespoon of sugar per loaf.

    This seems like too small an amount for flavor.

    The recipe is as follows:

    • 3 cups flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons active-dry yeast
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 2 tablespoons oil
    • 1 cup water
    • knead, wait 1 hr, knead again, wait 1.25 hr, bake for 30min @ 350

    Is this for flavor, or is there another purpose?

  • Sugar has a few effects in bread:

    • It helps make it soft and tender by absorbing some of the water and slowing down the formation of gluten strands.

    • It feeds the yeast, resulting in a faster rise.

    • Via caramelisation, it aids in the browning of the crust.

    • It acts as a preservative, keeping the bread fresher for longer (though 1tbsp probably doesn't make a lot of difference).

    • It does have some effect on the flavour.

  • The main reason is yeast food. You may not actually need it if you're using instant yeast; either that, or you can bump it up a little for a slightly sweeter bread.

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