You’ll quite often find that homemade bread isn’t as soft and fluffy as some bread you might get at a supermarket. Bread that you make at home using a very basic recipe will likely have a slightly firmer crust and crumb than the shop-bought stuff, but it shouldn’t be in a bad way
Bread that’s made with just flour, water, salt, and yeast will result in a more traditional style of bread that has a more chewy crust and crumb. Adding other ingredients such as butter or tangzhong can soften the overall texture and leave you with a lighter and fluffier loaf of bread.
Almost all of the bread that’s commercially made has a soft and light texture because of the chemicals they add to it. They use preservatives, flavor enhancers, and dough softeners to make cheap and consistent bread.
That’s not a problem though. You can make bread that’s far superior in both flavor and texture by adding a few simple ingredients at home.
Ingredients You Can Add To Dough To Make It Soft & Fluffy
There’s a big difference between the rustic, traditional type of bread and the more fluffy, lighter, and softer bread you see quite often. Everyone’s preference is different and you require separate recipes for each.
If you prefer bread that’s softer than the traditional type of bread, look no further. Here are the ingredients that can take the texture of your bread to a different level.
Whether it’s butter or oil, you can add it into your dough to create a bread that turns out much softer (and lasts longer too).
For a bread such as focaccia, you add olive oil to give it flavor, softness and prevent it from getting too crusty. Something like a brioche will require butter to maintain its soft crust and crumb.
Whether you add fat or not is dependent on what bread you’re making. You wouldn’t want to add it to something like a French Baguette but you’ll probably add it to a sandwich loaf.
It’s important to add the oil at the right stage when you’re making the dough because it can interfere with the gluten development. For small amounts of fat, you can add it in when you’re mixing all the ingredients together at the start. When using a large amount of fat like in brioche, you want to add it gradually once everything is well kneaded.
Tip: Brush melted butter on the crust of your bread after baking to keep it soft.
Adding a small amount of milk or substituting all your water in the recipe for milk can result in a softer, fluffier, and richer bread that can has a slightly longer life.
The results you get from adding milk is dependent on what milk you’re willing to add. The type of milk you add is up to you. You can try every milk until you find your favorite if you really want to.
At the end of the day, the type of milk you add doesn’t really matter. As long as it is animal milk, it’s going to give you the fluffy and tasty texture you desire.
You can increase the rise and soften the texture of your bread by adding eggs to your dough. Eggs act as a secondary rise in your bread, so you can potentially expect fluffier bread by adding these.
The yolk can also do great things too. Since egg yolk is high in fat and flavor, it improves the texture of the bread overall.
You can expect to make bread with a fluffier and softer crumb and crust if you bake with egg.
4. Mashed Potato
Whether you’re baking or boiling your potatoes, make sure you scoop some out of the skin and put it in your dough for added flavor and softness.
Putting mashed potato in bread is nothing new. In fact, it’s been happening for hundreds of years and you’ll understand why after you try it.
The name ‘potato bread’ might not sound nice, but it introduces a great soft and bouncy texture.
It might be even more unhealthy and require some extra effort to cook the potatoes, but it tastes great.
This Asian paste is basically a roux that’s made with water instead of butter. All you need to do is add a small amount of this paste to your dough during the kneading process and it will make a huge difference to your bread.
To make it, you just need to whisk together water and flour in a heated pan until it comes together into a thick paste.
This pregelatinized flour helps to retain moisture in the finished bread whilst keeping the texture soft and fluffy.
Tangzhong is often used in a lot of milk bread recipes to help give it that amazingly soft texture.
Which Ingredient Makes The Softest Bread?
The truth is, each ingredient is great in its own way at softening certain types of bread. Each one will give a slightly different texture to your bread, so it’s down to you to figure out which one you like adding the most.
With that said, I’ll express my personal opinion. Have you ever had Japanese Milk Bread? If not, you need to try it. This is my favorite bread in the ‘softness’ department as it’s extremely light and it’s almost like biting into a cloud. Okay, maybe not a cloud, but it’s pretty soft.
For this reason, I lean towards using Tangzhong in my bread recipes when I want them to be extra soft. I’ll even add some butter into it if I’m feeling like adding some fat.
Using a Tangzong paste, butter, and spreading melted butter onto it after baking will leave you with a bread that’s delicious and one of the softest things you will have eaten, but that’s just what I think.
Experiment with different ingredients in your bread to find which one works for you. One bread can be completely different to another with just a few different ingredients, so trying new things is key to understanding how to bake bread properly.