suger in dough

hello dr tom
my question is about suger in the dough which suger the yeast prefer to consume natural suger from the flour or added table suger or other suger just your thoughts on that please


The Dough Doctor, Tom Lehmann can better answer your question
I do not use any sugar in my dough. it does have an effect and some benefits, not necessary though,


As the excerpt below from the Yeast Treatise at demonstrates, yeast, at least in the context of a dough, seems perfectly content to feast off of the free simple sugars and the more complex sugars that are broken down by enzymatic activity into simple sugars during the process of fermentation. Of course, it is possible to add other forms of sugar to a dough, such as sucrose (table sugar), honey, molasses, brown sugar, corn syrup, barley malt syrup (a complex sugar), or even maple syrup, but the question that has to be answered is what is the purpose for doing so? Is it to prolong the usable life of the dough, or is it to add sweetness or flavor to the finished crust, or is it to get increased crust coloration, or is it to alter the rheological (flow) aspects of the dough, or is it to get increased tenderness in the finished crust, or is it to add trace amounts of minerals as yeast nutrients, or is it to alter the rate of fermentation based on the different rates at which yeast metabolizes different forms of sugar (e.g., the fermentation rates for sucrose, fructose and glucose are vastly different)? It can become a difficult balancing act requiring a lot of experimentation to get all of the dough and final crust characteristics you are looking for by altering the sugar component of the dough. As a simple example, consider the natural sugar composition of honey, molasses and maple syrup:

Honey: 38% fructose, 31% glucose, 1% sucrose, 17% water, 13% other
Molasses: 29% sucrose, 13% fructose, 12% glucose, 22% water, 24% other
Maple syrup: 65% sucrose, 0.6% glucose, 0.6% fructose

As you can see, maple syrup comes closest to sucrose (but with a higher water component). You don’t also want to use too much honey because of the high fructose component. And, so on.

You might also be interested in the recent article on sugar by Tom Lehmann, at … ry=lehmann.

Here is the excerpt mentioned above:

[i]Sugar Transformations (Rosada)

Simple sugars: The main simple sugars, glucose and fructose, represent about 0.5% of the flour. Yeast can directly assimilate them by penetration of the cell membrane. Simple sugars are transformed into alcohol and carbon dioxide by zymase, an enzyme naturally present in yeast cells. Because of this easy absorption, these sugars are the first ones used in the fermentation process. Their consumption takes place during the first 30 minutes or so at the beginning of the fermentation process.

Complex sugars: The two main types naturally present in flour, saccharose and maltose, represent approximately 1% of the flour. Because of their complex composition, these sugars will be used later on in the fermentation process. The lapse of approximately 30 minutes at the beginning of the fermentation period is necessary to achieve their enzymatic transformation into simple sugars. The enzymes involved are saccharase, which transforms saccharose into glucose and fructose, and maltase, which transforms maltose into glucose.

Very Complex sugars: The main very complex sugar is starch, which represents about 70% of the flour content. Two types of starch are found in flour: amylose and amylopectin. Amylose is degraded by the enzyme beta amylase into maltose, and in turn the maltose will be degraded into glucose by the maltase enzyme. Amylopectin is degraded by the alpha amylase enzyme into dextrin, after which the dextrin is degraded by the beta amylase into maltose. This maltose will them be degraded by the maltase into glucose.

The simple sugar, glucose, obtained during these transformations is used by the yeast to generate carbon dioxide and alcohol. During the fermentation process, most of the starches used are the ones damaged during the milling process. Because the particles are damaged, they can easily absorb water during the dough making process. This water contact triggers the enzymatic activity. A non-damaged particle of starch will only retain water at its periphery and not inside the particle itself.[/i]

We use honey in our dough. In my view is adds nicely, but subtly, to flavor and I think we get a longer useful life of the doughball.

Do you use the liquid form of honey or a dry form? Yeast metabolizes honey more slowly than sucrose, so it is possible that the honey is contributing to a longer dough life, all else being equal.

In a little while, all of this may become moot for you. I have enjoyed your intelligent and thoughtful posts, and will miss reading them. I wish you all the very best in whatever new endeavor you pursue.

Actually, the yeast does quite well on the naturally occuring sugars in the flour along with the sugars formed fron the enzymatic conversion of starch to sugars. Where the added sugars come into play are when we need to support fermentation for an extended period of time, such as more than about 6 to 8 hours of total, active fermentation time, or when we want to have a residual of sugar for enhanced crust browning or for the sweetness it imparts. Typically, if you don’t add any sugar to your dough and use a well managed, refrigerated dough management procedure, you can get away with two days of refrigerated dough storage with good results. If you want to go to three days in the cooler, you will ost likely find that the addition of one or two percent (based on the weight of the flour) sugar will give the dough more levely performance on the third day. The only down side to this is that the sugar will contribute to added crust color development on the first and second days of use. You might not even see this in a deck oven as you will be so moved to remove the pizza from the oven when you see the correct crust color, but with a conveyor type oven, where you wil have a fixed baking time, you might see a little difference in the finished crust color.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

We use liquid honey from a local supplier. I was suprised to learn that honey production takes place all over the place and was happy to do business with a small local business. Using local honey has some interesting health benefits in addition to the one commonly associated with honey. Since local honey is made with local pollen it actually helps those who consume it develop resistance to allergies based on local pollen. We buy a 60lb bucket for $110 which is also nice savings over what Sysco wants to charge. I have used our support of several local suppliers in radio advertising with VERY positive feedback.

We get pretty good use out of our dough on the 3rd day. Our dough guy comes in at 5AM and makes dough. We can use it that day, the next and the day after. Two things that are important to us to get this life are that we use cold water to make the dough and that we get the trays cross stacked in the walkin right away after they are made. These days we are making about 200-300 pounds per weekday of dough and about 400 on weekends. Those numbers will double in about two weeks when the holiday crowds arrive. When that happens we are using about 100 trays which pretty well maxes out our handling capacity.

We pay our dough maker piece rate which he likes and which makes me happy to let him come and go on his own schedule with no-one supervising him.

I was interested to read the comments on dough color that Tom posted right above this post. I guess that is caramelization of the unconsumed sugars that is reduced as those sugars are consumed by the yeast? It makes sense, but I had never thought of it.


It’s possible that your local supplier of honey is processing the honey so that it retains most of the enzymes. Often commercial honey is heated to get it out of the comb, which can kill enzymes the bees add to concentrate the nectar. The main enzymes in honey are invertase, diastase, and glucose oxidase. For those who are interested in these sorts of things, when used in a dough, invertase breaks down the saccharose and maltose into simple sugars, such as glucose and fructose (which yeast will feed on). Diastase changes some of the starch in flour to dextrins and maltose sugar. Glucose oxidase oxidizes sulphydryl groups in the gluten chemical structure to make the dough stronger and more elastic. This latter effect is one I have observed when using honey in a pizza dough.

If your honey has the full profile of enzymes and you are using cold water to make the dough, then you are perhaps optimizing the use of the honey in the dough, whether anyone can tell or not from the finished product.

It looks like you are doing a very good job of managing your dough. If you are not already doing it, I would like to suggest one more important step to take, that is to use youe thermometer to measure the temperature of each dough you make. This will help to keep you on track with your dough management, and with those production numbers you don’t want to get too far off track.
Regarding your question on sugar and crust color, regular table sugar (sucrose) is a non-reducing sugar, meaning than it doesn’t brown, or contribute to the browning reaction. This is why angel food cakes are white in color (they’re made mostly from egg white, flour and sugar (sucrose). So, how does sucrose cause the crust to brown more you might ask? Well, it all has to do with the yeast, the yeast contains enzymes which invert the sucrose to other fermentable, reducing sugars which can/do participate in the browning reaction. Pretty neat, huh?
As for honey, it is already a reducing sugar so it doesn’t need to be inverted to cause crust browning, and since the yeast only consumes a small portion of the sugar/honey, a good deal of what you add is probably left over for both crust color development and flavor. While on the topic of honey, one flavor that really compliments honey is butter. Test this for yourself by making a couple pieces of toast, spread one with only honey, and on the other piece spread on butter, then the honey, most people will have a decided preference for the butter-honey toast. You can benefit from this by brushing the just baked crust with a little melted butter, or you might even try replacing all or part of the oil/olive oil with butter. This is a really great combination in a whole wheat, whole grain, multi-grain type crust.
All this is really making me hungry at this early hour, I think I’m going to pop a couple pieces of bread into the toaster now and break out the butter and honey.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor


Out of curiosity, what is the longest useful life of a cold fermented dough that you have ever seen or heard of, either in a laboratory setting (e.g., at AIB) or in the field? And under normal circumstances, how long can one expect to see a cold fermented dough last and be usable without added sugar to the dough formulation? Thanks.

Pizzanerd, interesting stuff on the enzymes. Our local producer tells me that yes, those should still be present in the honey. He is a semi-organic producer. He can not claim certified organic since not all the crops that his bees work on are certified organic but he uses Organic methods to process the honey.

Tom, We use a Stefan VCM to mix the dough which is quite fast. It has been some time since I took temps. When we did it, they did not vary much from batch to batch. Our mixer is timed so the the heat gain is pretty consistent.

When we are really rocking we end up using about 30% dough that was made the day before and 70% dough that was made that morning about 10 hours earlier so the busier we are the less issues we tend to have. It is tougher in the slower season when we need to be ready for a busy day but can not count on it.

Our dough build-to is based on the forecasted need for today’s business plus tommorow’s. I took a 120 day history from the POS and calculated how many doughballs of each size we use per $1000 in sales and linked that formula to an excel spreadsheet where I have daily sales forecasts. The sheet takes the forecast for any day, adds the day following it and calculates the amount of dough we want to have on hand. The dough maker looks at that chart, counts what is left in the walk-in from the day before and makes up the difference.

That method gives us a buffer of a full day’s business in dough on hand. If we go into the buffer we have to make more the next day, if we are short of projection we make less. We have been running it this way now for over 7 years and it works very well indeed. It takes the decision making about how many batches of dough to make out of the hands of my staff. We NEVER make dough on the fly and only extremly rarely waste any dogh through over proofing.

Over the years I have made small adjustments in the formula but on the order of bumping from say 11 to 12 of one size and from 33 to 32 of another for a $1000 in sales.

Without added sugar 2-days is the norm, and three is pushing it a bit. With 2% added sugar, you can easily go to three days, and with a little luck push it to four. The longest I’ve seen is 7-days, but the performance of the dough left an awful lot to be desired (finished pizzas over the course ofthe seven days had everything from a very bubbly edge, to a normal edge, to a knife edge (essentially no rise). The eating texture ranged from tough, chewy to limp and almost soggy…Not exactly what I would want to have representing name or business, but then it wasn’t my name or business.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

ty nerd my objective is to mentain as much as i can the natural suger in the dough during fermentation
so by adding glucose or frectose (simple sugers) in the range of 1.% to the dough would that be a succesfull attempt to preserve the natural suger in the dough during fermentation
since yeast will be bussy consuming these sugers well i do not know i am just trying to get a good natural bread taste out of my pizza thank you for you help


Can you tell me what kind of dough recipe you are using and also what you mean by “bread” taste?

we have “pushed” some of our dough balls a week…we use a spiral mixer, ice cold H2O & 16 oz. sugar/50# All Trumps…

several yrs ago, using a similar formula & a lesser protein flour, we found dough that was nearing 5 days, “graying” & it looked like some strands were quite dark indeed…was told this was “dead” yeast…the dough still performed, but was not optimal…

at our new store, we’re seeing similar looking dough, but after it proofs a bit & is hand shaped, the normal color returns, but performance can suffer on day 6 or 7…mostly just experimenting w/this dough at that stage…

I have put several of those “aged” db’s in a new batch, but couldn’t see any taste or performance advantages…

According to John Correll, the black spots on the top of the dough are due to oxidation of the bran in the flour: … c533730478 (click on item 18). I did some experimentation using vinegar with “geriatric” doughs but did not see any improvement in spotting. Even when I got black spots, they were limited to the tops of the dough balls, not the bottoms. To see if oxidation was the cause of the black spots, I did an experiment in which I cold fermented a dough in an anerobic environment (I sealed a dough ball in an evacuated plastic pouch) and did not see any spotting, even after several days in the refrigerator. So, if my limited experimentation was valid, oxidation seems to be a factor in the spotting.

Per your quote below, is that referring to plain table sugar ?
If 1% is added, will that extend the retarding time some, just not the extra day ?


" With 2% added sugar, you can easily go to three days, and with a little luck push it to four."

ok here it is

80% alltrump
20% 00flour
0.125 % idy
2.2% salt
0.5% suger
room temp fermentetion for about 8 hours ( i like room temp fermentation it has a fresh bread taste to it)
m objective is to get a soft but crispy and chewy crust i guess that is everyone,s objective here
bread taste: the taste of wheat /fresh baked bread not over fermented i hope you got what i mean thanks for your help

some questions on your dough, and believe me, I’m no expert

idy % only come to a half ounce for 25 pounds of flour
I use .4%, or 1.6 ounces per 25 pounds of flour
All Trumps is 14.3% ±.3% and the 00 flour is, my guess around 9%
consider going with a hard red winter and spring wheat flour that is around 12%…
…my formula is 12% protein flour, Harvest King by GM, 60% water, 2.75% salt, .4% IDY…coat my dough balls with pomace of olive oil before refrigerating.

my questions on the sugar, or suger, Tom seemed to indicate that 2% was needed to be effective, ie is there any difference in .5% sugar and no sugar.
I use no sugar, doughs are good, I usuallu use them before 48 hours of retarding.



I don’t think that there is a “magic bullet” when it comes to the amount of sugar to use, whether sucrose or honey or some other form, but I think the amount you are now using (0.5%) should be sufficient for an 8-hour room temperature fermentation when using the All Trumps/00 flour combination. If you lose crust color, you can always experiment with using more.

I agree that there is much to be said about the value of room temperature fermentation. That’s the way it used to be done before refrigeration was invented (and is still the way it is done in Naples with the 00 flours). Have you found it necessary to adjust the amount of yeast you are using with changes in the seasons?

BTW, what is the amount of water you are using?