Ingredients
Over the last decade, we’ve seen a significant rise in the demand for natural alternative sweeteners in the products we make, buy and consume. Some of these natural alternatives are well-known like honey and maple syrup, while others such as palm sugar and monk fruit, are less familiar to consumers.
Once, it would have been unthinkable to create baked goods without eggs or dairy. As  diets continue to change, so do the variety of available products. Some customers seek out vegan baked goods because of allergies. For others, it’s because they simply don’t eat anything from animals.
New Canadian labelling laws that affect the way sugar is measured may change the way customers and manufacturers view the bakery shelf. But, what is sugar? Where do consumers’ perceptions go wrong? And why is this ingredient so prized in baked goods and also so indispensable?
Matzingen, Switzerland – Swiss manufacturer Veripan has developed a biopreservative it calls a "breakthrough" in giving bakery products long shelf life without the use of chemical preservatives, dough conditioners or undesirable off-flavours.
Frankfurt, Germany – Barry Callebaut has developed five types of chocolate and several sugar-substituting technologies aimed at reducing sugar while retaining taste in confectionery products.
London, U.K. – Four ingredients are piquing consumers’ interest and expected to excel in 2018: chaga mushroom, green banana flour, hemp and blue algae.
A delicious dessert has a balance of flavours and textures. Texture is created by a change in pressure or sensation in our mouth making the eating occasion more interesting. In baking, it is most commonly created by adding ingredients that produce crunch. It can also be generated from ingredients that fabricate crispy, creamy, bubbles and even heat from spices.
A book recommended to me by a food scientist over a decade ago, A Perfect Red by Amy Butler Greenfield, conveys the history of the grand obsession of intrigue, empire and adventure in pursuit of the most desirable colour on earth. In the 16th century, one of the world’s most precious commodities was cochineal, a legendary red dye treasured by the ancient Mexicans and sold in the great Aztec marketplaces, where it attracted the attention of the Spanish conquistadors.
As salt is to savoury, vanilla is to sweets. Salt enhances a dishes flavour, as does vanilla, but have you ever had anyone say "oh I don't think you have enough vanilla in this brownie?" No. But salt? Oh you bet!
There are diet trends that become quite popular then subside from front page news. The Atkin’s diet comes to mind; it was a real blow to bakers and its low-carb sentiments have sure stuck around. These trendy diets often seem rooted in weight loss or addressing a specific health challenge.
As a precipitously carnivorous person, I find myself in a bit of a quandary these days. I used to think nothing of eating a blue T-bone steak the size of a dinner plate — with pride. Now it seems a bit savage. My cupboards house lentils and black beans; former mere acquaintances to my intestinal abode.
In recent years, you have likely seen amazing laminated dough pictures posted online by many great bakers. Lately, the layers are thicker in the finished products. The result is very defined layers of dough separated by the butter.
Bagels are like The Beatles of baking: an original rock star with legendary backstory and legions of enduring fans. Much like The Beatles experimented with sounds that strayed from their early days, the bagel is also finding its own version of Sgt. Pepper’s.
Many consumers welcome ingredients they can see and pronounce on food packages. They value ingredient declarations that do not contain long lists of chemical-sounding words.
With the constant desire for more natural products and cleaner labels, bakers are facing a dilemma. Many are asking, “How do I delay mould growth without the addition of inhibitors?”
Tea has a long history originating from its Chinese and Indian heritage. It’s known as a comforting beverage, but well-publicized research about its health benefits has also helped its popularity.
In the last issue (see Bakers Journal, January/February 2017) I shared the results of a personal experiment I conducted with a sourdough starter (or levain) to determine just how resilient an established starter can be. Leaving two levains in my refrigerator, one for seven months, one for three months, I revived them with no problem over the course of four days.
Feb. 21, 2017, TORONTO -- March 1, 2017, marks the beginning of National Nutrition Month, an over 30 year old campaign designed to focus on bettering food choices and developing improved eating and physical activity habits for Canadians. According to StatCan in 2014, 20.8 per cent of Canadians over 18 are classified as obese, with poor eating choices acting as a major contributor. To help incorporate more nutrient-based items into Canadian diets, Victoria, B.C.-based raw foods chef Heather Pace shares five lesser-known ingredients that pack flavour and function into everyday recipes.
Sweets carry year-round appeal, but customer cravings still have seasonality. A survey of 1,000 consumers found that their chocolate cravings really kick in during winter. And, in fact, the desire to cozy up with all things cocoa only seems to be growing: “Chocolate’s not only the No. 1 flavour on dessert menus, but it’s also risen 7 per cent over the past four years,” says Jana Mann, senior director of menu research at food industry research firm Datassential.
For many years now I have been teaching artisan bread classes to foodies, bread lovers and students. It is interesting that a common theme from students is they don’t like sourdough bread. After a few quick questions, however, I realize they have not had real sourdough bread that’s naturally fermented. Instead they have been eating a “bread product” made with flavour additives like acetic acid, lactic acid and fumeric acid that have been added to a premix or base to replicate the smell and taste of a naturally leavened sourdough bread.
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