Business and Operations
New Baking Ingredients Know No Boundaries
By Dr. Charles Speirs
By Dr. Charles Speirs
Improving our eating experience takes on an international emphasis.
In January this year, I joined the Department of Baking and Cereal Processing at Campden & Chorleywood Food Research Association (CCFRA), in the role of Baking Science and Technology manager. CCFRA is the largest independent food research organization in the world, and is supported by approximately 1,700 companies globally. The Department of Baking and Cereal Processing is part of the Cereals and Cereals Processing Division (which employs 40 scientists and technologists), and carries out work on the properties of bakery ingredients and their transformation into bread and other baked goods. We have facilities for pilot scale baking – including a training bakery – and other cereal processing technologies. Part of my remit within the Department is to manage research, test baking, training, product development and technical consultancy for a range of clients, including national and international baking companies, food manufacturers, food ingredient suppliers and government agencies.
One of the first things that struck me when I took the job at CCFRA was the glorious diversity of the baked goods sector – regionally, nationally and globally. There is a very large and growing trend for products to cross social and national boundaries. For example, tortillas or wraps, which were largely unheard of 10 years ago in the U.K., are now commonplace lunch items. Pizza is a global product, with a variety of different toppings, a million miles from its traditional origin in Italy. However, there are still some products awaiting global recognition. As a Scot, I can describe regional products, such as Aberdeen rowies or traditional black bun, products which are a complete mystery to my English colleagues. And, of course vice versa, with the likes of stottie or Eccles cakes. Widening the scope to include contributions from French, Italian and Indian colleagues in the department, we can come up with a long list of products unique to our own cultures and environments. While the products are diverse, there is a commonality of the quality attributes that we expect the products to deliver. There are common needs which consumers of a whole range of products can relate to, such as convenience, freshness, a good shelf life appropriate for the product, and of course, an enjoyable eating experience.
Bakery ingredients deliver a range of benefits to baked goods, including convenience and technical excellence, and of course, contribute to nutritional balance and good health. This article will focus on the use of ingredients to improve the eating qualities, with nutritional and health aspects of ingredients being covered in a subsequent article.
One role of the bakery scientist is to select from ingredients and/or additives to support the continuous development of bread and other baked goods in this diverse sector. You do need to be able to define exactly what quality attribute you require for a specific product for a specific market. Shelf life is a good case in point. Traditionally, French bread is purchased twice a day, but people in the U.K. would expect a longer shelf life. Sandwich bread in the U.K. has a shelf life of about six days, while in North America a product aimed at the same market might be expected to have a shelf life of up to three weeks.
Three Key Tools – Ingredients, Additives, Enzymes
In terms of recipe modification, the bakery scientist has three key groups of materials in the toolbox to work with which can be used to help improve product quality and shelf life. These can be loosely classified as ingredients, additives or processing aids such as enzymes. Each of these groupings has a role to play in the baking industry depending on product and market requirement.
Additives (a European definition) include emulsifiers, antioxidants, stabilizers, thickeners and gelling agents, and are widely used globally in baked goods to provide the quality attributes the consumer demands. Their application is usually product specific. For example, charged (ionic) hydrocolloids such as pectin, xanthan and alginate gums are effective at reducing the rate of ice crystal growth, thereby improving the quality of frozen dough products. Guar and locust bean gums bind water and soften crumb structure, thereby reducing the apparent staling rate of bread and cake. Xanthan and guar gums help control batter viscosity in cookie pre-mixes. Emulsifiers such as DATEM and glycerol monostearate are probably the most widely used food additives in the baked goods sector to improve the crumb structure, increase the volume and the shelf life, and soften bread and cake. From a European perspective, the use of additives is diminishing in a whole range of prepared foods, including baked goods. Consumers now increasingly want products that are additive-free, and made from “store cupboard” ingredients. However, the consumer still wants the product quality attributes they are used to — which provides a big challenge to the bakery scientist to deliver these attributes in an additive-free and cost-effective way.
With the emphasis on “clean label,” research into natural emulsifiers is an area that will see increased levels of activities. While natural emulsifiers (e.g., lecithin) are used in some baked goods, the natural emulsifiers currently available are seen as being less effective than the declarable alternatives. This is a critical research area, and the development of a natural emulsifier that has widespread application across the food industry would be a very big prize. This leads us to the application of enzymes, which can be used to modify natural emulsifiers, or to produce emulsifiers from fats, as discussed below.
The third way to improve bakery product qualities is through the use of enzymes that can give the performance of additives, with the advantage of a clean label declaration. Enzymes are proteins, and since they are deactivated during baking, they are classified in Europe as process aids — which means they are not declared. This is an area that has great potential for growth, with the market value in Europe projected to double over 10 years. Currently, enzymes can be used to create the best foam structure in dough, to give the best sponge structure after baking. Enzymes can also be used to create the optimum firmness in crumb structure on cooling and decrease the rate of product firming on storage. Three enzyme groups that currently find a range of applications in baked goods are amylases, xylanases and lipases.
Some amylases have application in extending the shelf life of bread by interfering with starch staling mechanisms. In addition to improving shelf life, amylases can contribute to improving product quality. For example, a growing number of people in the U.K. buy pre-packed sandwiches that are stored refrigerated to preserve the fillings. Low temperatures are essential to preserve the fillings but they will also maximize the rate of bread staling. The use of these amylases could be a route to improve the softness of sandwich bread at low temperatures.
Xylanases are useful in cake and bread flours to partially break down the insoluble arabinoxylan fibres that interfere with the development of a fine foam structure. Xylanases could also be a way to improve the palatability of whole grain products. In Europe, most of us eat less wholegrain products than recommended, which might be because we enjoy the eating qualities of white bread. Perhaps the use of xylanases could give a wholemeal loaf with bigger volume and a softer eating texture — more akin to the eating properties of white bread.
Lipase action is a way to produce surfactants from fats present in the dough, which then work in the same way as DATEM to stabilize the bubbles in bread and cake dough. This enables production of products with a softer texture and better eating qualities.
The future for enzyme application in bakery products looks very bright with both further market inroads being made for existing enzyme products, as well as range extension to deliver new product benefits to the baked goods sector. For example, there is an enzyme on the market that converts lecithin into lysolecithin. This increases the effectiveness of natural lecithin, which means there is potential to reduce the amount of eggs used in cakes.
With the diversity of baked goods available to us, there will continue to be a role for ingredients, additives and enzymes to improve the quality of the range of cereal products enjoyed by the consumer. Whether there is a place for the Aberdeen rowie on the global market remains to be seen!
(P.S. A rowie is a Scottish version of a croissant made with lard.)
Dr. Charles Speirs is the Baking Science and Technology manager at CCFRA.