|Photo courtesy of ConAgra Food Ingredients|
The question for today’s bakers, is not should they use whole grain, but how much. There seems to be plenty of room in the market for both 100% whole grain bakery foods and blended-flour products.
Among bakers, Sara Lee Food & Beverage, Downers Grove, Ill., and Interstate Bakeries Corp. (IBC), Kansas City, Mo., jumped on the white wheat bread wagon. Sara Lee blended special white whole wheat flour with enriched flour to produce an entire line of Made with Whole Grain bread products. Its latest introduction, Made with Whole Grain White Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns, rolled out just in time for the summer grilling season. This was its best-selling bun product and best-selling new product with one large customer, says Matt Hall, Sara Lee spokesperson.
IBC took a slightly different approach, first introducing Wonder® White Bread Fans 100% Whole Grain Bread, then adding a Wonder® Made With Whole Grain White bread that is a “good” source of whole grains. The success of the blended products over the 100% whole grain products may be an indication that white bread lovers are slow to change their taste preferences, even with the publicity that the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Pyramid generated for whole grains.
“Most bakers try to strike the right balance between mainstream appeal and a whole grain claim,” says one white wheat manufacturer. “Consumer appeal drives the balance, which is why a 30:70 blend is so successful in whole grain white bread.”
There are some interesting twists to the nutritional equation. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued guidance that allows manufacturers to make factual statements such as “100% whole grain” or “10 grams of whole grain.” However, FDA took issue with industry efforts to define what constitutes “good” or “excellent” sources of whole grains.
There is no official FDA recommendation for a daily intake of whole grains, but most people agree that 48 grams per day is a good goal for Americans. “This figure was derived from the recommendation to eat three servings per day of whole grains, and one serving of bread contains 16 grams of flour, hence the 48 gram recommendation,” says Judi Adams, Grain Foods Foundation’s president.
Cynthia Harriman, Whole Grains Council’s director of food & nutrition strategies, says, “The whole grain stamp is now on 671 products from more than 60 bakeries, but the ‘good’ and ‘excellent’ wording has been removed from our stamp, to move away from any regulatory uncertainty. Bakers need to remember that products must contain 8 grams or more to qualify for the stamp. This would be equivalent to
0.5 serving of whole grains.”
Adams adds that both whole grains and enriched grains are healthful. Bakers and consumers should remember that enriched grains contain nearly twice as much folic acid as whole grains. The enrichment of grains with folic acid, which started in 1998, has been extremely effective in not only reducing the incidence of neural tube defects in babies, but also in reducing the incidence of strokes in the United States. “Whole grains are not enriched, but a proposal has been forwarded to allow that option,” notes one whole grain supplier.
One good way to please consumers who want everything is with a blend of white whole wheat and enriched flour. One flour supplier offers a white wheat flour that is milder in flavor and absent of some of the stronger and more bitter flavor characteristics that can be present in red wheat. “For wholesale bakers, this means that they can use a higher percentage of whole wheat in blends intended for consumers who prefer the milder taste of white flour,” the supplier says. This flour has somewhat of a creamy yellow color, resulting in a nice golden tan shade in finished bakery foods.
Because serving sizes vary across bakery categories, bakers sometimes use different blends of enriched flour to whole grain white flour in different product lines to achieve “good” source of whole grain claims. The serving size for buns runs 43 grams to 46 grams, whereas bread runs 28 grams to 32 grams per slice, with two slices considered a serving.
|The cookies on the bottom left are formulated with traditional enriched flour, the cookies on top are formulated with whole wheat flour and the cookies on the bottom right are formulated with one supplier’s white whole wheat flour. Photo courtesy of ConAgra Food Ingredients|
Hall notes that Sara Lee uses 24% white whole wheat in its buns, compared to a 30% in its breads. When using whole grains, it is more of a challenge to get enough volume with buns than it is with breads, but it is certainly manageable. The ultimate goal is to meet consumer preferences for taste, texture and color. Sara Lee’s breakfast breads have whole grain content between 35% to 45%, depending on flavor variety. These sweeter breads mask the bitterness of whole grains, and because color is not an issue, bakers are able to formulate with traditional hard red winter whole wheat.
Whole white wheat flour has a sweeter note, and bakers may be able to reduce added sweeteners by one-third. The other option is to leave sweetener levels intact, as many customers prefer a slightly sweeter note in breads. Depending on the desired finished product characteristics, typical usage levels of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in white whole wheat bakery foods may range from 10% to 20%, one white wheat manufacturer says. Another supplier notes that most people expect whole wheat breads to have some sweetness, which mitigates the whole wheat flavor. Regular whole wheat breads often use honey for flavor, while sugar or HFCS are added for sweetness. Wheat protein isolate also is used in whole grain breads to increase sweetness without affecting functionality.
Another formula tip is to use 3% to 5% more water in whole grain bakery foods. This is for a couple of reasons. First, because whole wheat flour always absorbs more water, and second, because actual stone-ground wheat flour is left dry, resulting in a finished moisture level of no more than 10% moisture, as compared to 14% for wheat ground through a hammer mill where water is added in the processing. With other grains water absorption will vary, depending on the type of grain and pre-treatment, but adding whole grains generally will increase water absorption.
The addition of whole grains usually results in decreased mix time because of the cutting action and dilution effect on the gluten. “In fact, bakers often will add gluten to develop whole grain bread dough,” notes Jeff Zeak, American Institute of Baking pilot plant manager. If bakers use 2% to 4% [flour basis] vital wheat gluten in regular whole wheat bread, they may need to increase the level to 6% or 8% when using whole grains.
Also, because the resulting loaf is denser, most bakers also will need to adjust pan sizes, either converting to a smaller loaf pans or adding extra dough to existing pans. For example, if bakers normally add 18 ozs. of dough in a 1-lb. loaf pan, they might need to use 24 ozs. of whole grain dough. Finally, bakers typically will want to lower temperatures and bake these denser loaves for a longer times. Whole grains also are used in cookies and muffins. One supplier adds more salt to whole wheat bread, and also adds a soluble dietary fiber ingredient which improves flavor and reduces bitter notes.
Beyond red and white wheat
Other grains commonly used in baking include rye, oats, corn and barley. Becoming more common are millet, sorghum, triticale, kamut, spelt, teff, buckwheat and quinoa. These grains are used not only in breads, but also in cookies and muffins. Some of these grains may require preconditioning.
Whole grain barley is functional in cookies and crackers, and may be processed into rolled barley or barley flour. At levels as high as 50% replacement of wheat flour, tests show little organoleptic difference between barley flour and wheat flour. At levels greater than 50%, bakers may encounter difficulty sheeting cracker dough because of the lack of gluten development. While it is possible to create a 100% barley cracker, it may require some engineering modifications. Barley flakes rolled on top of crackers produce interesting textural and visual appeals.
Zeak adds, “Buckwheat flour generally is used in small quantities because of its distinct flavor profile. Red and blue cornmeals add a different visual perception.” An example is using blue corn meal in a blueberry muffin to increase the perception of blueberry.
Flaxseed is not recognized as a whole grain by FDA or the whole grains council simply because it is considered an oilseed as opposed to a cereal grain, botanically speaking. “However, flaxseed does contain the three components that constitute a whole grain, i.e. the germ, bran, and endosperm and as such, it performs the same as other whole grains from a health perspective,” one flax supplier says. “Because we strongly believe that flaxseed should be considered a whole grain, we have challenged FDA on its guidelines and petitioned FDA to include flaxseed in its ruling.”
Bakers often use a blend of grains to formulate a 7-, 10- or even 13-grain product. Some whole grains must be preconditioned before use in bread dough. Grain manufacturers accomplish this by steaming the grain or treating it with infrared heat. If the grains have not been conditioned by the manufacturer, the baker may pre-soak the grains for several hours to improve hydration in the resulting doughs.
Hall seems to sum it up pretty well, “Consumers have evolved to where they want everything, whole grain benefits and traditional texture.” The baker’s job is to deliver.