Pectin is something I once thought was a one trick pony. I thought it was for jams and pastry fillings. But turns out it isn’t. Pectin has plenty of uses but one in particular stood out to me this week. A customer asked a question about adding pectin to breads. I vaguely remembered seeing pectin as an ingredient in many different mass produced breads. I never thought about its role in the dough or how it would affect the finished bread. After doing a bit of research I found that it actually has many great uses in bread making.
“How can pectin improve my bread?”
Packing a Pectin Punch?
In my research I found that pectin helps with a number of different things that improve the overall quality of bread. It’s expected that pectin would first be used as a thickener in high hydration doughs. This makes the dough easier to work with at a higher hydration. Also the pectin will help keep the bread moist. In addition to moisture retention the pectin greatly improves the freeze thaw stability of uncooked bread dough. The moisture retention of the pectin also helps provide a softer crumb structure to the bread. Another interesting detail I found was that the pectin actually helps strengthen the gluten network within the dough. Strengthening the gluten network helps the dough hold onto the CO2 created by the yeast or baking soda. This leads to an increase in the volume of the dough once baked.
All of these traits lead me to a particular type of bread: sandwich bread. A soft bread with a tight crumb structure that stays fresh for days (in most cases up to a week) is exactly what we are looking for in a sandwich bread. But this could work well for many other types of bread, such as donuts, challah, and potato buns. Simply add 2% of pectin to the total weight of the flour. Both HM and LM pectin can be used in bread baking but to achieve the same results you will need to use 10% more LM pectin than you would HM pectin.
The next time you are looking to improve a soft bread add some pectin it may surprise you.