How Adding Fat Affects Bread Dough

Bread recipes can be divided into two categories: those with fat and those without. Today, we are doing a side by side comparison to see how adding fat affects the bread dough.

To compare the bread dough with and without fat content, we will make and test two batches of dough: one with fats and one without.

We used a basic bread recipe that consisted of:

  • Bread Flour
  • Instant Dried Yeast
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Water

For one batch, we added 15% of fats. 

Let's Compare the Results - With and Without Fats

As we can see from the windowpane test, the fat-free dough does not have much elasticity, meaning that it is not as easy to stretch. The dough feels firm, and is not sticky at all. On the other hand, the dough with fats is smoother, softer and more elastic. It is slightly sticky to the touch.

The fat-free dough is firm and has minimal elasticity, making it harder to divide, roll and shape. The dough with fats is softer with better elasticity, so it was much easier to shape. 


Before baking, during the second fermentation, both batches were of similar height and size. However after baking, the difference is more apparent. This could mean that the fat-free bread had a smaller oven spring than the bread with fats included.

The oven spring is the process of the bread rising in the oven due to the heat. The bread with fats had a larger oven spring because the fat content helped to keep the air bubbles in the dough from collapsing.

The bread with fats has a larger rise than the fat-free bread, which is likely due to the fats helping to trap air bubbles in the dough.

With the cross section, it is apparent that the fat-free bread has a coarser texture. Air bubbles are not only larger, but also uneven. The bottom of the bread is slightly denser as well, which is caused by the lack of elasticity in the dough.

The bread with fats has a finer texture, and it is evident that the air bubbles are smaller and more evenly distributed. The bread has also achieved a more voluminous rise. 


  • Texture: Fat-free bread dough is typically coarser in texture than bread dough with fats. This is because the fat content helps to distribute the gluten evenly throughout the dough, resulting in a more uniformed texture. The fat-free bread also has a chewier texture and a firmer crust. We can conclude that fat adds softness to the dough, making it fluffier. This is because the fats coat the gluten strands in the dough, preventing them from sticking together too tightly. This results in a more tender and fluffy loaf of bread.
  • Elasticity: Bread dough with fats is usually more elastic, making it easier to stretch, roll and shape. As softer and more elastic dough stretches better, there is less risk of damaging the dough, making it easier and more suitable to make buns/bread with more complex shaping.
  • Rise: Bread dough with fats typically rises more than fat-free bread dough. This is because the fats help to trap air bubbles in the dough, resulting in a more voluminous bread. This means the bread dough with fats is also softer and more bouncy. 
  • Flavour: The addition of fats typically enhances the flavour of the bread, making it richer in taste.

Adding fat to bread dough can significantly improve its appearance, taste, and texture. Even when all other ingredients are the same, bread with fat will be more tender, flavorful, and have a more even and voluminous rise.

Why Should We Add Fat to Bread Dough?

Fat plays an important role in the structure and flavor of bread dough. It coats the gluten strands, preventing them from forming too tightly, which results in a more tender and fluffy loaf. Fat also helps to trap air bubbles in the dough, which contributes to a more even rise and a finer crumb. In addition, fat adds flavour and richness to bread.

As shown in this comparison, a small amount of fat can make a big difference in the quality of bread. By adding just 15% fat to one batch of the bread dough resulted in a loaf that was significantly more tender, flavorful, and had a better rise than bread without fat.

Adding fat to your bread dough is a simple way to improve the quality of your bread in a big way. A variety of fats can be used for breadmaking, with butter, margarine, and shortening being the most common options.


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