Alcohol in bread???Is it Halal?...any comment?


Bread as generally consumed comprises of two basic types leaven and unleavened bread. Leavening refers to the addition of yeast which in the case of bread is usually called Bakers’ Yeast which is used to make the bread rise. The process using yeast requires the yeast (a single cell bacterium) to react with the natural carbohydrates (sugars) in the (wheat flour) in the presence of water to ‘ferment’ those sugars. The byproducts of that fermentation are alcohol and carbon dioxide. The production of carbon dioxide creates the bubbles which are the air pockets which makes the ‘holes’ in leaved bread, normal white loaves for example. It is the creation of those carbon dioxide bubbles which when captured and retained give rise to the bubbles in Champagne and beer.

This reaction is dramatically increased by the addition in the case of leavened bread of baker’s yeast.  Commercial yeast is isolate “mushroom-type” microorganisms whose cells are high in moisture and consist of vacuolated protoplasm. Their reproduction cycle is extremely rapid and thus one gram of compressed yeast contains several trillions of yeast cells. In dough seeded with 1% of commercial yeast, the number of these cells can double in 6 hours at 80 degree Fahrenheit. If the fermentation is allowed to continue, the proliferation will reach a concentration of 150,000,000 cells per cubic centimeter regardless of how little seeding was done at the start.

Un leavened bread is made without the addition of yeast  but  yeast is present in the air and wild yeast, or multi-micro flora are the natural air-borne ferments that are generated or seeded in a dough left exposed to a clean and cool atmosphere under specific conditions of moisture and temperature and the exclusion of larger specimen. Within that fertile medium, lactic bacteria of the various beneficial types are found: B. Pastorianum, B. Delbrucki, and B.Ternoas well as saccharomyces such as S.Pastorianus, and S. Cervisiae. This type of micro flora consumes little energy and multiplies quite slowly which is why unleavened bread does not rise though there is some of that fermentation process taking place albeit at a very slow rate. In some countries unleavened bread is left for as period before baking to allow a slight rise (or proving) to take place).

Alcohol boils at 78.4°c so in the baking process the alcohol is in effect boiled away hence the smell, normally described as being yeasty’ is experienced, which is actually mainly alcohol.. However if the bread is baked in a tin and forms a crust it does then retain quite a large percentage of this alcohol, (actually very little, around 1%, but it is still present). This varies considerable according to the type of bread and the method of manufacture. What I would call ‘soft  ,pappy loaves Mothers Pride etc. are very lightly cooked and do not have a further cooking period as used in some loaves to make more crusty bread  for example so the amount of alcohol driven off is less. There is no correlation between levels of residual alcohol and the flour used or their style of manufacture as they all rely on this process. It is true to say that softer ‘wetter’ breads contain more alcohol. From what I was told the


 studies showed that making toast for example caused the residual alcohol to be driven off to a lesser or greater extent and in bread crumbs for example the levels were very low as they were in effect roasted.

The bubbles created in cakes are a different process whereby the use of baking powder (a mix of Calcium Carbonate and Tartaric acid) reacts to create carbon dioxide without the production of alcohol.

 S.Scarth  October 2011.(A scientist in Cardiff University)