Have you ever wondered, ‘Can you make bread without sugar?’ Sugar can play quite an important role in your bread, but it is not absolutely necessary either.
Let’s find out if it is possible to make bread without sugar and what the benefits of adding it to your bread are.
Sugar is a vital ingredient in baking. Whether we are making a cake, muffins or brownies, sugar is key in making our bakes moist and tender. It also adds to the texture of our bakes and more obviously, the taste, as it makes our desserts sweeter. If we use sugar to make our desserts sweeter, then why put it in something so savoury like bread?
To make bread you only really need 4 key ingredients; flour, water, salt and yeast. Sugar is an optional ingredient, yet you will find it in most bread recipes and for good reason. Sugar can do various things when you add it to your dough mixture.
Food for Yeast
Adding sugar to your dough can activate the yeast faster and help the dough rise quicker. Yeast on its own will naturally break down the sugars in the flour so your bread will still rise without the sugar. But if you add sugar, the yeast will feed on it, adding an extra boost and making the dough rise faster. This is great as it can reduce the time you are waiting for your dough to prove. You need to watch not to add too much sugar though as you can ‘overdose’ the yeast and have the complete opposite effect of your dough not rising fast enough.
Sugar is also great for adding moisture to your loaf. It attracts and holds moisture while it’s baking in the oven. Without sugar, moisture will evaporate in the oven, resulting in a dryer and denser loaf. With sugar, moisture is trapped in the loaf so you should get a soft and light textured bread. Added moisture will also help the bread stay soft and fresh for longer.
Sugar is not as important to the taste of bread than salt. But it can certainly help enhance the taste of your bread without making it sweet. Sugar can also help make your crust crispier and brown as it crystallises while your bread is baking.
Overall, sugar doesn’t really add anything valuable to your loaf and it’s your choice whether you want to add it or not. The quantity of sugar added to dough is so small that you won’t see any noticeable difference. You may notice a slight dryness with bread that does not have sugar as sugar adds moisture, but again, it’s not enough to notice any major differences.
Top baking tip: If you don’t want to add refined sugars to your bread recipe, you can always substitute it with honey.
An enriched dough is a regular dough but it contains higher quantities of sugar, fat and dairy. Brioche bread, panettone and cinnamon rolls are examples of enriched doughs. They all contain milk, butter or oil, eggs and lots of sugar. You can definitely taste the sweetness in enriched doughs as a lot of recipes will ask for around half a cup of sugar or even more. That’s a lot of sugar for a dough!
Sugar, or any other sweetener, is an essential ingredient for an enriched dough. It adds a lot of moisture to the dough, making it very moist. And the added eggs and butter add to the soft, pillow like texture you get with a panettone and brioche bread. Without sugar, you don’t get an enriched dough as it won’t be sweet.
So, the answer to the question ‘Can you make bread without sugar?’ is ‘Absolutely yes!’ Now, unless you are planning on making cinnamon rolls, it’s not the end of the world if your bread dough doesn’t have any sugar in it.
Like we said, the amount of sugar added in bread is so small that it won’t make much of a difference whether you add it to your bread dough or not.