My bread smells like alcohol, Can I eat it?

In this article, we will answer the question “My bread smells like alcohol, Can I eat it?”, what makes my bread taste like alcohol, and how to prevent the alcohol smell in bread.

My bread smells like alcohol, Can I eat it?

Yes, you can eat it. Bread that tastes like alcohol is perfectly safe to eat but may not be a pleasant experience for many. The alcohol smell comes from the yeast which is a fungus and is widely used in baking and brewing.

Yeast forms alcohol and carbon dioxide as a result of fermenting sugars present in the dough. Different types of yeast can be used to leaven bread. Therefore, each type of bread varies in terms of its organoleptic properties.

Most of the alcohol evaporates when the bread is baked at high temperatures. If the bread contains too much alcohol, it can leave behind unpleasant bitter aromas that remind you of alcohol such as wine, vinegar, beer, etc.

What makes my bread taste like alcohol?

The usual culprits are:

Too much yeast: Reduce the amount of yeast in the dough by 10% and see if it helps.

Overproofing: This usually happens when the dough is left to chill in the fridge overnight. The fridge fails to chill the dough quickly and the dough becomes over-fermented before you know it. Overproofing also happens when you place the dough in a hot place and let it sit there for prolonged periods. 

How to prevent the alcohol smell in your bread?

Focus on the kneading 

Kneading is a crucial step if your first proof is only an hour-long or less. Kneading helps develop and strengthen the gluten strands. Dough that has an extensive gluten network turns out more fluffy and light as it can better trap carbon dioxide.

Moreover, kneading incorporates air into the dough. When air or oxygen is available to the yeast, it derives its energy via aerobic respiration instead of anaerobic respiration. Resultantly, less alcohol is produced. 

Do not overdo the kneading if the dough is supposed to be proofed for several hours for the second and third rise. In the case of prolonged proofing, dough incorporates more and more air as it rises. So, the kneading is not as needed.

Use a preferment 

A preferment is recommended for quick bread and loaves made by long fermentation. If you are an experienced baker, you would know that using a pre-ferment generally enhances alcohol production. But you need to get a full picture.

Apart from increasing the amount of alcohol produced in the dough, preferment contributes to a better rise and the production of Lactic Acid Bacteria (LABs).

LABs also make the dough rise by producing gas. Moreover, a preferment does not need a lot of yeast. All these factors contribute to a good rise which oxidizes the flour and minimizes the alcohol synthesis via anaerobic respiration.

Cut back on yeast 

The rationale is simple. Yeast produces alcohol. When you reduce the amount of yeast in the bread, excess alcohol won’t be a problem. Refer to a  yeast conversion table before tweaking the amount of yeast in a recipe.

The important thing to consider here is the ratio of yeast to flour. You also need to consider the amount of sugar present in the dough before reducing the yeast or else the bread comes out too sweet since the sugars won’t be utilized.

Stop over proofing your dough 

The yeast will keep on fermenting the sugars until either the sugar depletes, or the dough experiences a heat shock during baking.

To check the degree of fermentation of the dough, insert your damp finger into the dough and lift it out of the dough.  If the dough jumps back right away, it needs more proofing.

If the dough takes about 3 seconds to return to its original position, desired fermentation level has been achieved. If it takes more than 3 seconds, the dough is over-proofed.

Make sure the starter culture is ripe 

So, when does a starter culture ripen? A starter culture, such as a sourdough starter, is fully ripe when it has a higher content of LAB than yeast. LAB turns the culture acidic and produces gas that rises the dough.

The culture should be fermented long enough for it to increase its LAB content. More yeast means more anaerobic respiration. This will e eventually result in bread that has an overtly alcoholic taste.

Conclusion 

In this article, we answered the question “My bread smells like alcohol, Can I eat it?”, what makes my bread taste like alcohol, and how to prevent the alcohol smell in bread.

References 

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