When we talk about other ingredients added to bread, we mean anything that wouldn't be considered one of the basic ingredients (flour, water, yeast, sweetener, salt).


Other ingredients would include items like oils, herbs, dried or diced vegetables, berries, cheese, other grains, ground flavors like cinnamon or nutmeg and chips (chocolate, white, cinnamon, others).  



Other Ingredients - Bread Science

The key to adding other ingredients depends on whether it's best to add them at the sponge (beginning) or at the final knead when preparing the dough for the pan.  Below are some good guidelines:


Added at the Beginning (sponge)

  • Herbs -  Dried for fresh herbs like garlic, basil, oregeno, dill, pepper, citris, etc, do well to add to the sponge.  This allows the flavor of the herbs to be absorbed more readily into the dough.  The sponge will have a a stronger smell and will be infused with these wonderful flavors.

  • Grains/Seeds - Depending on how you like the texture of your bread, grains and seeds can be added at the sponge or later at the final knead.  Seeds like ground or whole flax can be added at the sponge to help soften the whole seed and to allow ground flax to help bind the dough.  Ground flax is a wonderful binder/thickener and works well when added to the sponge.  If you like your seeds and grains more crunchy, add them at the final Knead.


Added at the Final Knead

  • Oils - Oils called for in the bread recipe will help give the dough a softer texture.  Liquid or solid oils can be added at the final knead.  If using solid oils (coconut, palm, butter) soften them first so that they mix well when kneaded into the dough.

  • Diced Vegetables - Fresh diced vegetables such as celery, onion, peppers, carrots, etc. will add moisture to the dough, so should be added at the knead so that you can adjust the amount of flour needed to make the dough the consistency you need.  In most cases, you also don't want the vegetables to soften too much, so adding them at the final knead will help retain their structure so they don't turn to mush when kneaded into the dough.

  • Berries - Fresh or frozen berries should  be added near the end of the knead to avoid spreading of color (blueberries will turn your dough blue...).  The exception would be items like craisins or raisins where they could be added at the sponge to help absorb liquid and soften the craisins/raisins.

  • Cheese - Cheese will break down if added at the sponge.  Some recipes will call for grated cheese, but even grated varieties of cheese will break down and be absorbed into the dough through the final knead.

  • Grains/Seeds - Raw seeds like sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, and millet, and other smaller grains like quinoa and rolled grains work well at the final knead because they aren't absorbing additional moisture. This allow these grains to give the bread the crunch or chewy texture that you are looking for when adding these items.   

  • Ground Spices - Cinnamon and similar spices work well when added at the final knead.  This allows the flavor of these spices to be stronger when added to the dough instead of flavors being absorbed by the sponge.  

  • Chips - All chips like chocolate, white, cinnamon or carmel/butterscotch chips should be added at the final knead.  The chips will melt when the bread is baked and will leave little pockets of goodness throughout the loaf.  If added at the sponge, then kneaded, the chips will be too soft and will break down in the dough.


The bottom line would be:  If you want a crunchy or chewy textrure, add other ingredients at the final knead.  If you want just the flavor, add other ingredients at the sponge.