Adding dairy ingredients to bakery foods is a great way to incorporate healthfulness into baked products.
Obesity rates continue to soar, not only in the United States, but around the world. And although there are dual culprits–high–calorie diets and sedentary lifestyles–the finger of blame often points squarely at the food industry, especially manufacturers of soft drinks, candy and other sweets. This continues to present a challenge for the baking industry.
National and international health organizations advocate the consumption of fewer sweet snacks. A Scottish food standards agency published a report in March warning that children currently have too much sugar in their diets and urged Scottish children to reduce the amount of cakes and biscuits (cookies) they consume. The Weight-control Information Network (WIN), an information service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the National Institutes of Health, recommends less consumption of soft drinks and high-fat or high-calorie snack foods, such as chips, cookies and candy. “These snacks may be okay once in a while, but always keep healthy snack foods on hand. Offer the healthy snacks more often at snack times,” the agencies propone.
One way for wholesale bakers to create healthful snacks is by adding more dairy ingredients, including cheese, milk powders and whey protein. Many dairy ingredients are high in protein and could result in a “good source of protein” or a structure-function satiety claim. Another option, especially with a popular item, such as cheesecake, is to package the product in smaller serving sizes to maximize permissible indulgence. Dairy ingredients can help create the perfect marriage of healthfulness and indulgence.
Dairy farmer-funded research shows cheese varieties run the gamut from common to sophisticated. “Cheese is highly regarded for its appetite appeal and delivery of sensory benefits. In focus groups, we found that consumers relate cheese with terms like fun, variety, versatile and social. Consumers also associate cheese with foods that are natural, wholesome, authentic and traditional,” explains Laura Gottchalk, vice president, strategic research, Dairy Management Inc., Rosemont, Ill.
Commercial Creamery, Spokane, Wash. still sells many of the same products it sold two generations ago, and Americans especially like cheddar, says Peter Gilmartin, vice president of the company. However, demand for artisan cheese is growing, he adds. “Artisan cheese is up and coming in the United States and abroad. Recently at a Research Chefs Association meeting in Seattle, we showed several artisan cheese powders including gouda, havarti and chevre (goat cheese).” Gilmartin notes a growing interest in chevre, which works especially well with artisan bread. The company's crumbettes of chevre are a good topping for bread because they retain their orange color.
Another area of growing interest for bakers is upgrading bread by adding natural cheeses, such as parmesan, romano, asiago, sharp cheddar or blends of these cheeses. “The soaring popularity of artisan cheeses is helping to sell artisan bread. The best and most common form of cheese used within bread loaves and bagels is diced or small cubes,” notes Kevin Delahunt, president, food ingredients division, Sargento Foods, Plymouth, Wis. For in-dough applications, Delahunt recommends 3/8-, 1/4-, or 5/8-in. dices. These cheeses are added during the final phase of the mixing process. “Natural cheeses are terrific in par-baked applications, which can be finished off in the oven in retail and foodservice establishments. Shredded cheese also can be added to the dough and is the best choice for topical applications,” Delahunt adds.
Asiago, for example, has a distinctive piquant flavor, and Panera Bread® uses it in its specialty asiago cheese sourdough, three-cheese and focaccia breads. Other cheeses with relatively intense flavor profiles that complement grain-based products include aged cheddar, parmesan, romano and blue cheese. “One of the major technological advances has been in the melt and flow characteristics of natural cheeses. A number of cheeses don't melt and flow readily because of intrinsic characteristics of that cheese variety,” notes Dean Sommer, cheese and food technologist, Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, Madison, Wis. “Recently, we have discovered other technical means of inhibiting melt and flow of cheese varieties that under normal instances would melt and flow. These cheeses then can be used in grain-based food applications involving heat where the baker doesn't want the cheese to disappear into the grain matrix or blow out of the grain matrix.”
Cheese can be added to bakery products in a variety of forms.
Powders: Cheese powders provide flavor in muffins, scones and breads. “Chipotle cheddar and other trendy cheese flavors can add a high-quality, artisan touch. Cheese powders also can be used in extruded products, such as whey crisps. These cheesy crisps then can be used for innovative, savory flavor profiles in baked nutritional bars or trail mixes,” says Grace Harris, manager of applications and business development, Hilmar Ingredients, Hilmar, Calif.
Pastes: In order to capture the cheese flavor, fresh cheese often is added to bakery products at 20 percent to 30 percent of the flour weight, says Marcia Rauwerdink, director, marketing and strategic planning, DairiConcepts L.P., Springfield, Mo. Her company's solution is a soft paste that is incorporated without grinding or preprocessing. Usage rates vary, but the cheddar paste generally lowers the percentage of cheese to between 3 percent and 10 percent, Rauwerdink adds. “This can provide a savings of 35 percent to 50 percent by replacing one-half to two-thirds of the fresh cheese or club cheese. When doing this type of reformulation, oil can be added back to replace the fat from the cheese, and flour or other ingredients can be used to return the solids to the appropriate level,” she says.
Lowfats and special melts: One concern with adding cheese is increasing the fat content of a product, but using reduced fat cheese comes with its own set of challenges. Mozzarella on pizza provides a good example. “Typically, lowfat and nonfat mozzarella is very tough to chew, has opacity color issues when heated due to loss of light scattering because of the low fat content, and tends to develop a tough skin on the surface when it cools after heating. While research in this area continues, large strides have been made by the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research team to overcome these performance hurdles,” Sommer explains. Pizza can be reinvented in a lower fat version by creating pizza bread with the pepperoni and mozzarella baked inside.
Milk, yogurt and whey powders
Other dairy products also come with benefits and challenges. In order to save money, bakers may try to reduce the use of milk powders, but by adding more milk powder, they can produce creamy, high-end desserts that offer the perception of less guilt. Both nonfat dry milk and milk protein concentrate can boost protein content of puddings and cream fillings. Satiety claims are very popular and are a good fit for bakery items that include protein and fiber.
Whey ingredients also are ideal for bakery. “Whey comes in many forms and most are useful in bakery applications,” says Hilmar's Harris. “Whey powder is used for its browning reaction and gives excellent color and flavor development in baked products. Whey protein concentrate, with its complete amino acid profile, gives a nutritional boost to foods for folks with an active lifestyle. It also provides functional benefits including water binding and gelation for improved shelf-life and texture. Whey protein isolate can be used as an egg white replacer because of its foaming and whipping characteristics–ideal in applications such as meringues and cakes. Whey proteins can replace other egg components and provide emulsification and binding properties similar to eggs.”
Many other baked products can benefit from the inclusion of dairy products, Harris adds. Baked nutrition bars can include both cheese flavors and whey protein concentrate or isolate. Breads, cookies and muffins fortified with whey protein concentrate provide higher levels of protein in otherwise carbohydrate-dense products. Whey protein concentrate can be viewed as a partial replacement for flour in this type of application. Pizza crusts also can be fortified with whey protein concentrate to provide more protein.
Yogurt has often been touted as one of the “superfoods.” While fresh yogurt can be added to bakery formulations to boost nutrition and improve shelf life, many bakers will find it more convenient to use yogurt powder. Yogurt powder often is used as a topical coating for cereal or snack mixes or as a component in compound coating to enrobe bars.
Dairy ingredients can be added to bakery items to boost protein, calcium and phosphorous. Dairy delivers the triple play of flavor, function and nutrition, that results in increased value for bakers and healthful indulgence for consumers of all ages.