What Is The Benefit Of Using Ascorbic Acid When Bread Baking

Citrus Fruit , ascorbic acid

Ascorbic acid, or as you probably know it, vitamin C is a vitamin that can contribute a lot to our physical and mental health if consumed properly.
But what is the benefit of using it in bread baking? well, I’m here to let you in on this little secret.

Ascorbic acid, (Vitamin C) Is used in commercial bakeries and large bread factories as a flower improver or dough conditioner with the main purpose being to accelerates the rising of the dough and to extend the shelf life of the bread.

What happens is that in contrast to its role as an antioxidant, in dough production its use as an oxidizer. The method of making large quantities of bread quickly requires oxygen in the kneading process that will help gluten develop rapidly.
The oxidizer helps the glutinous chains create connections that strengthen the gluten network and therefore the dough is more elastic, strong, stable, and can expand easily which in turn will not rupture with inflation during baking. In addition to all that, what you get is greater loaf volume, faster rising and finer tenderer crumb.

So.. its seems its all good and you get to enjoy a little bit of vitamin c as a bonus, right? wrong!

Is Ascorbic Acid/Vitamin C good for you?

ascorbic acid more commonly known as vitamin C is well known to be healty for you in the right quantities and from its natural sources like oranges and other citrius fruits.

However , vitamin C is very sensitive to heat and therefore, unfortunately, breaks down during baking, so at the end there is actually no vitamin C left in your bread.

Is ascorbic acid/vitamin C it bad for you?

The answer is no. Not in the low quantities used for baking bread (even in commercial bakeries).
It is said that ascorbic acid can be harmful in high concentration or very large doses. Let’s say If you consumed a few grams a day this can cause side effects like nausea, diarrhea, headaches, warm/ red skin, and fainting. As I said, the quantities used for baking bread are so small even if residues remain in the loaf. its loses relavence and is definitely harmless.

so, if it’s not bad and has so many benefits why not use it for home baking?

Let me start by saying that I personally prefer my bread to be free from flower improver or dough conditioner, but I know that for the home baker, especially the beginner home baker, some can think, “why not use an enhancer to create a positive experience of baking beautiful yummy bread”?

Well, the truth is, when you prepare bread in small quantities, as home bakers do, the amount of ascorbic acid is so small that there is no point in using it at all. It’s not like you are preparing bread in massive quantities that shortening the time of rising will become so significant, and extending the shelf life for another week? Let’s face it, you are not a supermarket, and your family will probably consume the bread you baked in two days.

So under what circumstances should it be used?

The answer is: if you’re planning on freezing the dough.

If you know in advance that you intend to freeze the dough then it is definitely worthwhile to use ascorbic acid.

Why and when should I use ascorbic acid in baking?

Yeast is known as a living organism and when you freeze the dough it usually kills off about 30% of the yeast. It simply dies in the freezing process.

The dough consists mainly of flour and water. In the freezing stage, the liquids dilate (if you place a bottle of water or a bottle of soda in the freezer it will explode due to the expansion of the water, we’ve all been there. Here too, the fluid expansion breaks the texture of the dough.

And here comes the ascorbic acid into the picture. Using it helps revive the dough when thawing and will bring it back to life and compensate for the yeast that died in the process.

Again, here too, there are temperature differences between industrial bakeries that usually place the dough in a deep freeze of minus 30-35 degrees Celsius and a home freezer is about minus 18 degrees so the home bakers lose less yeast than that of the professional one.

Still, in this way you will be able to freeze the dough for a few months and still enjoy a crispy and tasty bread later on.

However, I have to state that if there is no need to freeze the dough, it is preferable to avoid it altogether because, in the end, the freeze changes the taste of the bread. Just like a steak that has been put on the freezer for a long time and it comes out softer because the liquids have widened and the meat has been broken down a little bit -It does not taste like a fresh steak.

So if you have to freeze, do it only in the bread that can actually come out of the intervals using ascorbic acid like Danish dough (brioche puff pastry) that has many folds of butter and lots of fat and can benefit by it.


Hi, my name is Amit. I started baking at a young age at my father's bakery. I hope I can answer some of your questions and hopefully you will find some hidden gems to help you out with your home baking skills.

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