The growth of the whole grain baking industry has left no doubt that it is here to stay. Consumers, dieticians and the government all have lauded the healthful benefits that whole grains provide, and bakers are reaping the premium price points.
“It’s more of a lifestyle issue than a fad,” one flour miller says about whole grains.
If whole grains are a lifestyle choice, then bakers must ensure that whole grain bakery foods are available to consumers. However, while many bakers are able to produce these breads, some bakers do not have the in-house capabilities to produce whole grain bakery foods.
In addition, whole grains throw many formulation challenges at bakers. Whole grain loaves generally require additional ingredients that traditional white pan breads do not. These ingredients include vital wheat gluten and other dough conditioners, water, emulsifiers, shortenings and mold inhibitors. Plus, bakery foods containing whole grains have reduced shelf lives.
Because of these formulation challenges, many bakers are choosing to formulate their whole grain bakery foods with whole grain-based mixes.
When bakers purchase mixes, they buy all of the ingredients in a specific formula, except for water and sometimes yeast. Mixes eliminate the need for minor ingredient scaling and flour.
Overcoming formulation challenges
Compared to standard white flour, whole grain flour is heavier and denser. This characteristic translates to coarse grains in the finished product or breads without lip.
One grain supplier offers a grain mix that contains higher levels of oxidizers and emulsifiers to compensate for the heavy weight associated with whole grains.
Whole wheat flour is the only whole grain that contains gluten-forming proteins. Bakers want to ensure their products contain gluten because it gives elasticity to the dough and sets the dough’s structure. When suppliers offer whole grain mixes, whole wheat flour generally is the base in 100% whole grain formulations. In multigrain mixes, suppliers offer a combination of wheat flour, white flour, other whole grains, and also some vital wheat gluten.
For example, if bakers wanted to formulate multigrain bakery foods that have heart-healthful properties, such as bakery foods containing oat flour, a grain mix may offer whole wheat flour, oat flour, vital wheat gluten and white flour, one supplier says.
When formulating whole grain bakery foods, bakers should be aware that grains have bitter flavor profiles. Many suppliers take this into account when creating grain mixes, and take steps to neutralize these bitter notes.
Purchasing whole grain-based mixes is more expensive than buying the ingredients separately, and formulating in-house. However, some bakers may save costs by switching to grain mixes if their end products lack consistency and quality.
“If they are throwing out dough because of inconsistencies in scaling or not having ingredients, and are having to adjust the production schedule because they cannot finish products,” one supplier says. “Then these bakers should switch to mixes and bases.”
This supplier says that grain-based mixes yield consistent bakery foods 99% of the time.
Grain mixes also alleviate many difficulties caused by scaling. For example, the scales could not be zeroed, not calibrated, broken or not measuring at all.
Besides saving ingredient costs, whole grain-based mixes also save time, space and research devoted to creating whole grain formulations.
“All of the work has already been done,” one supplier says. “The trial and error has been taken care of already.”
Healthful benefits are a major reason why whole grains are so popular, and one grain mix supplier offers a 100% whole grain mix and also an organic mix. These mixes allow bakers to make health claims on their breads.
Grain mixes offer an ideal solution to many challenges that bakers experience with their whole grain bakery foods. Grain mixes contain all of the ingredients for to produce loaves with proper volume, texture and taste, grain mixes may reduce costs and they help bakers ensure consistency.