All grains contain peptides that mimic morphine or endogenous opioid substances. This is where I deal with my latest loaf craving. Get your bread-based exorphin fix here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mushroom Soup Bread, or Soup Made with Mushroom Soup

Mushroom Soup Bread
or: Soup Made with Mushroom Soup

This bread was a serendipitous invention (aka, crazy idea).

I had been grocery shopping, and my wife was dismayed when I got home and she discovered I had purchased "more mushroom soup cans".  I guess we had a lot in the cupboard already.  I decided to make some bread using some mushroom soup for hydration.

I measured the mush from the mushroom soup can to be 289g, and the milk that the can held when the mush was out of it was 327g.  I stirred this together on a pan on the stove for a few minutes -- not long enough for the soup get thick, but long enough to break up most of the "mushroom soup boogers", as my wife calls them.  Then I took it off the heat and let it sit while I measured the other ingredients.

Pup Loaf Ingredient Ratios
What would those ingredients be, and what ratios, for this 'crazy invention'?  Well, I had been reading various studies recently, where some food labs were testing bread for hydration rates, based on how much bran is included, or other ingredients like herbs or oils, something that I've been curious about lately.  Most of these labs, I discovered, make what is known as a "Pup loaf."

Now, a "Pup loaf" is a laboratory-made bread with standardized set of ingredients, for test purposes.  Stanley Cauvain's "Bread Making: Improving Quality" (which can be partially read in Google Books) gives a straight-dough recipe for a "pup loaf", based on the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACC)'s lab method 10-10B.  One of the articles I read used the 1984 version of this straight dough method, with a slight modification, and I calculated ingredient percentages from that, with my soup bread:
  • 100% wwflour
  • 70% hydration
  • 3.5% yeast
  • 1.75% salt
  • 8% honey
However, I ended up not using many of these amounts.
When my soup was made, it measured 612g, and that would be my hydration of 70%.  That meant I had to use 874g of whole wheat flour.  The yeast that was being described was supposed to be 3.5% of the total, so I should have used 31g.  I felt that this was going to be far too much, so I cut this back to 9g (1%).

The salt I was supposed to use was to have been 15g.  But the soup already contains 850mg of salt per 125ml; the can is 284ml, so the total salt is 19g 1.9g (I originally miscalculated the salt for the bread to be 70g, meaning I could add 51g more.  Obviously, something was wrong with that calculation, but I didn't check it.  Intuitively I just ignored itI should have checked it twice; Josh, in the comments below, has corrected my math, and has pointed out that it was the lack of salt that made this bread taste so bland).  And there were other ingredients in this soup can (like MSG), that I didn't know the full effect of.  I didn't want to add any more salt.

And I didn't add any sweetener, either; I was thinking that the milk's lactose would make the loaf sweet enough.

Here is a full list of the can's ingredients:
  • water
  • mushrooms
  • canola or soybean oil
  • enriched wheat flour
  • corn starch
  • salt
  • cream
  • modified milk ingredients
  • soy protein isolate
  • monosodium glutamate
  • tomato paste
  • spice
  • yeast extract
  • dehydrated garlic

The method also details how the loaf should bulk ferment, be punched down, proof, and the times and temperatures for baking.  I adjusted all these, because the "Pup Loaf" is only 100g of flour, and I was making a larger loaf.

So basically I'm saying that I used the "Pup Loaf" recipe to find the hydration rate for my dough, and disregarded virtually all other ingredients and methods.

When mixing the dough by hand, I found it to feel quite dry.  It took some kneading to get it all incorporated, about 10 minutes or so.

I bulk fermented it for 90 minutes in the bread setting of my Excalibur Dehydrator, then I turned it out onto the counter, folded it and formed a boule.

This boule was going to rest in a basket to proof 45 minutes.  I lined the basket with wwflour and some cracked wheat.
With 25 minutes to go, I noticed that it had risen substantially again, so I pre-heated the oven at that point.

Just before baking, I spritzed water on it and scored it.

The loaf was baked with steam for 45 minutes at 415 degrees F.


The loaf had a nice oven rise.  It held together okay.

Next Day Report
I cracked into this bread this morning for a taste.  The crust is extremely hard.  The crumb is extremely dense.  And the taste really puts the "blah" in "bland".  The soup advertises that it is "made with fresh mushrooms", right on the can.  Well where are they?  I saw a few small chunks when I was kneading the bread, but in this tight crumb, I can't see any of them now.

I'm thinking that the hydration level should be increased to 75% at least; and perhaps some water rather than completely milk would work better for bread.  And the salt factor: it doesn't taste salty, but you sure don't want to add some more salt.  I generally add some cayenne powder to the soup when I'm eating it as soup, so perhaps that also might help give the bread here some flavour.

But likely, just likely, this whole mushroom soup bread is simply a bad idea.

Notes to Myself
  • If you ever make this again: to the can of milk you add to the soup, also try adding as much as 44g more water to bring the hydration level to 75% (otherwise, the bread is so dry, you will want to dip it into, uh, soup).
    And add a bit of cayenne powder, let's say about 1/4 - 1/2 tsp.
  • You also bought too much ginger paste at the grocery store.  A Google Search for bread and ginger paste brought this recipe for 'Greek Rolls' to my attention, by Cholena at Group Recipes.  You might want to try this recipe too -- maybe as a bread.
  • I suppose that if you can do this with mushroom soup, you can do it with any soup -- even home-made soups.  Consider this to be the better option -- but be certain you have the right amount of salt for bread, so when making soups that might be added to bread, be sure you measure the water and the salt you add, so you get an idea of how much salt you are adding to the bread!


  1. I think you are wrong in your salt calculation. If it's got 850mg per serving, there's 1931.2mg in there and thus 1.9312g, not 19g... which could help with the blandness.

    Personally, I'd figure out the sum of the MSG and salt already present in the soup and add whatever salt necessary to get it up to the recipe level... I have no idea whether MSG breaks down into sodium and glutamate when cooked so I can't really comment on that.

    It might be interesting to try making your own mushroom soup where you can control the ingredients and keep up the weird stuff, and make bread with that instead.

  2. Right! I must have a mental block about the salt content of this soup. Thanks Josh.