The rush to launch new and innovative bakery foods has taken a toll on leavening systems. "There is a lack of understanding about leavening systems," one ingredient supplier says. "The assumption is that if it’s a double-acting leavening system, it will work in any formula as a plug and play."
Unfortunately, that is not the case, and any change in product formulation has the potential to significantly impact a leavening system’s performance. "You can replace one yeast with another and there won’t be too many problems," the ingredient supplier says. "However, when you replace one baking powder with another, there are a whole host of changes happening."
A lack of understanding of the role baking powder plays in formulation and processing has resulted in a growing number of problems as bakers tinker with existing formulas to lower carbohydrate, fat or calorie contents. For example, when tortilla manufacturers started converting traditional flour tortillas to low-carbohydrate and whole grain tortillas, bakers were forced to alter their processes to accommodate longer manufacturing times. Unfortunately, many of these manufacturers did not alter their leavening systems, causing multiple problems and underperforming products.
"New products offer completely new systems, and when you try to use the same leavening system with the new product, you will find deficiencies," one leavening system supplier says. "As an industry, we haven’t done a good job differentiating baking powder systems. If you look at the label, it says double-acting baking powder, which is very generic and sounds almost commodity driven."
Many of the baking powder leavening systems used in the baking industry are customized to enhance performance. These customized leavening systems give bakers exactly what they want. If a biscuit manufacturer wants all of the expansion to happen in the oven, a customized leavening system is designed to provide this action.
The key to ensuring the ideal customized leavening system is using a supplier with experience in custom formulation and processing. Although ingredient suppliers mainly work with formulations, it is essential for a leavening system manufacturer to understand how a plant operates.
"You can’t just throw an ingredient at a problem," one leavening system supplier says. "You have to look at the process first, and then start customizing a leavening system."
Problem Solver Quick Tip
Many bakers do not understand the differences between baking powders and baking soda, or bakers interchange the two terms as if they are the same product. This confusion leads to countless problems when formulating new products or troubleshooting existing formulas.
Baking powders are defined as complete leavening systems that include a baking soda (sodium bicarbonates) and phosphates or other leavening acids. Baking powders also contain cornstarch, which separates and improves the flow of the ingredient. Baking sodas are bicarbonates, and do not include leavening acids. Common bicarbonates include sodium, potassium and ammonium.