PHOTO COURTESY OF NUTRIANT, A KERRY COMPANY
A PHOTO COURTESY OF ADM
Whole grains can be used as flour, inclusions or toppings in bakery foods such as breads, muffins, cookies and even cakes. Common whole grains include whole wheat, barley, oats, corn, quinoa, bulger, spelt, sorghum, rye and triticale.
The new MyPyramid reinforces the healthful roles that whole grains play as part of a balanced diet. It recommends that Americans receive half of their total grain intake from whole grains, which equates to three or more ounce-equivalents of whole grain products per day. As a result, whole grain bakery foods are more popular than ever, and bakers must find opportunities to take advantage of this demand.
But what are whole grains? The Whole Grains Council says a whole grain must contain the essential bran, germ and endosperm as well as naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed. However, Food and Drug Administration has not set a standard for what constitutes whole grain. "The word whole grain is loosely interpreted when identifying those products," Kirk O'Donnell, American Institute of Baking's vice president of education, says. "The government hasn't defined it, so there is no definition to limit it."
Commonly accepted whole grains include amaranth, barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulger, corn, oatmeal, whole oats, quinoa, sorghum, spelt, triticale, rye and whole wheat.
The basis of most whole grain bakery foods is whole wheat. However, bakers can incorporate other whole grains to impart unique flavors, health benefits and functional benefits on bakery foods. O'Donnell says teff gives flavor and color; blue corn gives color; amaranth offers calcium, iron and lysine; barley gives bakery foods a cakelike structure; and quinoa can be used as a rice substitute.
Labeling is one way to attract consumers to buy whole grain bakery foods. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved labels and health claims that can be displayed on packaging if a product meets certain requirements.
To achieve a whole grain health claim, products must contain 51% or more whole grain ingredients by weight per referenced amount (RA); dietary fiber content of at least 3.0 grams per RA of 55 grams, 2.8 grams per RA of 50 grams, 2.5 grams per RA of 45 grams or 1.7 grams per RA of 35 grams; and the product be low in fat. If the bakery food meets these requirements, FDA allows this health claim: "Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods and low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers."
Bakers looking to create unique whole grain bakery foods will have to formulate with several different whole grain ingredients. These ingredients require special formulation and processing changes.
Compared to bakery foods made with enriched white flour, whole grain bakery foods typically are darker in color and have a slightly more bitter flavor. Volume and texture also are affected because of the bran in whole grains. To cope with these changes, bakers should add higher levels of oxidizers and emulsifiers, one whole grain supplier says. Whole grains also have higher water absorption than white flour and require more water in the mix, which may decrease shelf life. Bakers also may have to add more shortening or oil to improve taste and textural characteristics, the supplier says.
Because whole grain doughs have less tolerance to overmixing, O'Donnell recommends slower mixing speeds. He also recommends that whole grain doughs have decreased fermentation times and lower humidity levels during proofing, and be baked longer at lower temperatures.
Whole wheat flour is the only whole grain that contains gluten-forming proteins. Gluten is necessary for bakery foods because it gives dough elasticity and forms structure. As a result, whole wheat flour is the base in most 100% whole grain formulations. However, bakers can formulate with a mix of white flour, wheat flour and other whole grains to create a multigrain bakery food.
Common whole grains
Whole wheat is the most commonlyused whole grain due to its gluten and structure forming properties. It also gives a dark color and denseness to bakery foods, which may be a negative for consumers who enjoy the lightness of white bread. For bakers looking to appeal to these consumers, but with a whole grain product, several suppliers offer white whole wheat flour. This finely ground ingredient is considered a whole grain because it retains the bran, germ and endosperm.
One manufacturer mills the white wheat until it has a fine texture and granulation. White wheat is lighter in color than a hard red spring wheat, but it is still not as white as white flour. White wheat flour does not contain the particulates normally found in whole wheat. Its texture also is impacted. In whole wheat bread, the texture is open and not as tight or fine as white bread. White whole wheat has a tighter texture similar to white bread.
Oat ingredients are another way to add whole grains into a bakery food. These ingredients include oat flour, oat flakes or steel cut oats. "Oat flour certainly can be used in multigrain applications if you are looking for three or four whole grain sources," one whole grain supplier says. "Oat products, such as a flake, can be used in topical applications on bread, which is another wonderful way to get whole grains into baked goods." This supplier recommends that oat flour be used at levels as high as 20% based on flour weight. Oat flour can be used with whole wheat or white flour for the necessary gluten.
Maize is an ideal ingredient for whole grain tortillas, one whole grains supplier says. Maize gives tortillas the whole grain claim, and ideal flavor and aroma. Maize can be incorporated at levels of 5% to 15%, and it does not require as much additional gluten or moisture when used in tortillas, the manufacturer says.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a much discussed topic due to their health benefits. Found naturally in flaxseeds, omega-3s add nutrition to bakery foods. O'Donnell and other suppliers consider flaxseeds to be whole grains because they contain the bran, germ and endosperm.
Milled flaxseed, a flour, can substitute for oil in whole grain formulas. Bakers can remove all of the oil in their formulas and replace it with flaxseeds in a 3:1 ratio, one flaxseed supplier says. When formulating with flaxseeds, the supplier recommends an increase in water content of bakery food formulas by 75% of the total weight of flaxseed due to the ingredient's water-binding capabilities. The manufacturer also says bakers should increase the yeast by 25% of the total flaxseeds used, as well as adjust for baking temperature and time, because flax causes bakery foods to brown quickly.
Bakers also can promote the health benefits of omega-3s on packaging if the product contains flax. When used at levels of 8% to 10%, flaxseeds give bakery foods 260 mgs of omega-3s per serving, which is enough to make a label claim. When incorporated into bakery foods at these same levels, flaxseeds offer advantages that most whole grains do not: improved loaf volume, increased oven spring and anti-staling properties.
Similar to flaxseeds, soy also offers the functionality and health benefits of whole grains. Bakers can consider soy flour to be a whole grain if it contains the bran, germ and endosperm. One manufacturer's whole grain soy flour extends shelf life and provides volume that is similar to a bakery food made with white flour. In addition, when soy flour is used at levels of 17%, a 50-gram serving of a bakery food warrants fiber and protein claims. The manufacturer says soy flour is ideal for use in breads, baked bars, cereals and snack foods.
Whole grains offer bakers numerous opportunities to create new and healthful bakery foods. As long as bakers are aware of the special formulation and processing changes that whole grains require, it is possible to give consumers healthful products. •