Pro Tip: Oxidizers and reducers can be helpful tools in addressing changes in flour quality from load to load.   


In my last Pro Tip, I shared what you need to look for in flour quality. Now, let's learn how to control it, or work with it in this Pro Tip.


If you’re a baker using bulk flour, you are going to experience flour quality differences from load to load. One of the tools you can use is oxidation. 

Oxidizing agents are the ingredients that enhance dough strength. These ingredients mimic aged flour. Click here to learn about the various types of oxidizing agents.

Overall, here are what the industry uses them for:


  • They enhance gluten reformation, which helps control dough strength and elasticity during high-speed mixing, sheeting and panning. 
  •  Used as dough conditioners, oxidizing agents are a necessity in the high-speed production of bread.
  • Potassium bromate and ADA were the most commonly used oxidizers. They became popular when high-speed lines, with flour that hasn’t been aged, needed extra strength for processing. 

Fast oxidizers are ingredients like potassium iodate, sodium iodate, calcium peroxide and potassium bromate. A slower and clean label friendly oxidizer is ascorbic acid.

If you have the ability to use enzymes, you can use alpha amylase, proteases, xylanase and lipase to enhance the extensibility of your dough. On the other hand, glucose oxidase, lipoxygenase, transglutaminase and laccase can improve the elasticity of your dough. 

These clean label options are harder to implement at most industrial bakeries. Therefore, it’s best to speak with your dough conditioner ingredient provider about these options. For more information about these enzymes, search for them on BAKERpedia.


Reducing agents are just the opposite of oxidizing agents. From a chemistry point of view, they add hydrogen atoms to reactive sites of molecules. This results in the weakening of the dough and a reduction in mixing times. Reducing agents help increase extensibility and decrease elasticity.

It is common in many industrial bakeries to use an all round dough conditioner blend from an ingredient provider. To learn more about what these individual ingredients are, check out this link.

Blends of enzymes, emulsifiers, oxidizing agents, reducing agents and vital wheat gluten are usually added at the dough mixing station as minor ingredients. It is recommended that each flour from each mill should have its own dough conditioning system — even at the same plant! 

Not all dough conditioners are created equal.

It is tempting for baking companies to use the same dough conditioners for the same product baked at different facilities. However, this is not always  the best approach because every plant would have different sources of wheat flour. Different sources would mean a different flour quality. Therefore, different flour qualities would require different dough conditioners.

Lin Carson, PhD, is the founder and chief executive officer of Bakerpedia. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.