Let’s talk about… oils and dairy fats

I love a splash of olive oil in my pizza dough, a spoonful of yogurt in the dough for my burger buns, or a bit of butter in the dough for my toast.

Fats, especially milk fats, and other animal fats like shortening, lard, or tallow, make the crumb softer and give that creamy, luscious mouthfeel of eating something special. The crumb will be finely pored and tender. They also add a bit of volume if used in small amounts.

Oils add taste and volume, and keep the breads from going stale early. It’s only about a tablespoon per batch of pizza dough or bread dough, but the taste it can carry is amazing!

I like to use the leftover oils from curing feta (herbed) or from sundried tomatoes in oil. They turn plain things like the easiest lievito madre bread into something special. Just add a tablespoon of the strong tasting oil to the dough. You can also use storebought hemp oil, hazelnut oil, or pumpkin seed oil.

If you take a very basic recipe like the flatbreads and just use a different kind of oil than the recommended olive oil, you’ll end up with a completely different flavor profile.

I mentioned above that I like a bit of dairy in my burger buns. There are many different bun recipes in my blog by now, so you can definitely have your pick. If you want to exchange all or parts of the liquid in another bread or roll recipe for dairy, there are some things you have to watch out for:

  • 500g buttermilk isn’t the same as 500g water. You have to take the milk solids into account and add a bit more liquid so you end up with the same hydration as before or things end up dry(ish). This applies to all dairy products.
  • The milk fats aren’t the only players when you add dairy. The proteins bind water and you can actually increase the hydration of your dough a bit. The more proteins, the higher the possible hydration, the fluffier the crumb. You might want to bake in a pan or in burger rings though to keep your baked goodies from spreading out. A good example for this are the Za’atar Burger Buns. They’re the fluffiest and most delicate of them all.
  • The milk sugar enhances the taste and lets your baked goods brown more easily. You might want to turn the oven temperature down a bit or you run the risk of burning your crust! This applies mostly to whole milk and cream.
  • The minerals strengthen the gluten structure and give your dough more stability (as long as you don’t increase the hydration).

My favorite dairy products in baking:

  • quark and skyr (low in fat but very high in protein. I use them in cheesecakes and in quark oil dough, an easy and quick substitute for an enriched yeast dough. I know they’re hard to come by in America. I’ll show you how to make your own next week.
  • greek yogurt or turkish süzme (a yogurt that’s been heavily strained. It’s super creamy and has a cream cheese like texture. A little goes a very long way.)
  • whole milk or cream as a substitute for an egg wash, or to give goodies like a japanese milk bread the super fluffy, wonderbread like crumb

Have fun experimenting with your recipes. I hope to see you next week 🙂

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