Liquids: To dissolve and activate, the yeast needs some liquid (water, milk, etc). The quantity depends on the quality of the flour and on wether we want a dough that is soft, medium, or hard. Hard flour, richer in protein gluten, absorbs more water and thus makes more bread. usually we need a glass of water for 1/2 kg of flour and the water must be warm, about 30 0C.
The water must be added at the correct proportions during fermenting. More water produces very tight dough that does not rise as much and the bread stales faster. We must use good quality water (potable), not too hard not too alkaline, because that hinders rising.
Fermenting with Milk produces a light texture and a thin crust, darker than with water. The milk’s fat helps the bread preserve longer. The dough that has milk instead of water absorbs more liquids. Milk affects positively the bread’s volume and its crumb.
Other liquids that are used are beer, wine, fruit and vegetable juices.
Oil – Fat: Oil and butter give a rich taste and flavor, soft homogenous texture and they act as natural preservatives. It is better to mix solid fats with the sugar so that they are distributed evenly throughout the dough.
The salt gives taste to the bread, stablilises the gluten, slows down the enzyme activity and helps the bread retain moisture. That is, the salt slows down the rising of the dough, but it is necessary, because otherwise the bread will lack taste. Salt also aids in the preservation of the bread. Most dough products, even when they are sweet, contain some salt, since it gives a finer texture, consistency, elasticity and bigger volume to the final product. Too much salt hinders rising.
Eggs give taste and flavor. But the role of the yolk is different than that of the egg white. The egg white traps the air and hardens the texture. The yolk on the contrary, softens the dough.
Sweeteners: Sugar, honey, molasses, etc. help the fermentation, give a nice color to the crust and make the dough sweet. Every sweetener can alter the taste of the dough product, even in small quantities. Honey is not recommended if we want our product to be crispy, because it gives a gum-like texture to the dough and holds more water than other syrups. On the other hand, sugar melts during baking and, since it becomes solid when it cools down, it makes the final product crispy.