give baked products
plus textural and
At one time, consumers might have made purchase decisions based solely on price. Although price remains a factor, easier access to a wider variety of foods made with unique textures and exotic flavors has given people more sophisticated palates, which in turn has increased the demand for product diversity.
Fortunately, an array of inclusions from the traditional to the unconventional, give bakers a means of differentiating their products. Ingredients that add flavor provide merely one option for product line extensions. Some inclusions enhance a product's textural attributes, while others have added health benefits. This article will describe a select few of the novel inclusion-types available for baking applications.
Cheese offers many benefits when used as an inclusion, from its versatility to its flavor to its nutritional contribution. Common bakery applications include breads and rolls; stuffed-crust pizzas; specialty breads, such as empanadas and Cuban bread, French-style bread with cheese inside; and crackers.
Cheese can be placed directly in the dough and baked, where it becomes part of the bread's matrix. In doing so, it contributes flavor, color and perhaps some texture if its melt is restricted. When used on top of a loaf, cheese provides flavor, but it also will become caramelized, dried and crunchy, so the net effect will be quite different, notes Dean Sommer, cheese and food technologist, Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, Madison, a member of the DMI-sponsored National Dairy Foods Research Center Program.
Bakers must determine the flavor and textural attributes they want in their finished products before deciding on the type of cheese. For instance, when Cuban bread is sliced open, the cheese layer is clearly visible, Sommer notes. In pizza crust, melt characteristics and stretch are important characteristics.
“Sometimes, you have to use some cheeses with flavors that would not be acceptable as a typical table cheese, but would be very acceptable or even optimal in the case of a bakery product,” Sommer says. “Flavor balance makes a cheese acceptable for table cheese, but when cheese is used in a baked product, the balance might be totally different. The lipase flavors, bitterness, or the overall cheesy flavors might be really intense.”
In a baked application, such as bread or crackers, the cheese flavor must be fairly intense to withstand the process. A pungent bleu cheese, Asiago or Romano work well in such cases, although these strong flavors can be polarizing. “People either love it or hate it, but the flavor really comes through,” Sommer says. “Whereas something mild, such as a Monterey jack, Colby or even a young cheddar, doesn't pack much punch in a bread or cracker application.”
Melt also is critical. In the case of Cuban breads, the cheese shouldn't melt and flow into the bread's matrix, making a no-melt cheese, such as a queso fresco or queso blanco the best option, Sommer notes. A normal melt cheese would work in some applications where flavor is more critical than textural identity. “Cheese used in stuffed pizza crusts shouldn't melt and flow too much because, when you open up the crust, all you see is a hole or void,” Sommer explains. “Also, you don't want to cut into that crust when the pizza is hot and have melted cheese gush out at you. You want some restriction of melt, but not total restriction of flow, so the cheese has some stretch and flow when you bite into it.”
In regards to composition, cheese varies widely in fat and moisture. Bakers should consider how these factors might affect the performance of their products during baking. Salt also is a factor to consider during formulation. Residual sugar, however, may be one of the most important factors. “With residual sugar from the cheese, and protein from the flour, you're going to have varying degrees of Maillard browning, which is especially important if cheese is placed on top of bread or other applications,” Sommer says. “If you use a lot of different cheese varieties in a bread-mozzarella versus Parmesan versus Gouda-the visual look is astounding in terms of just the color. You can almost pick the color you want by picking the variety of cheese used.”
Added nutrition is another consideration when using cheese as an inclusion. “There's a lot of ongoing research right now with something called cheese plus, which is putting additional benefits into cheese, either through natural nutrition of the dairy cow or through fortification at the processing plant,” Sommer explains. “We're seeing more dairy farmers going back to natural grazing versus more concentrated rations, which naturally brings more conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs), an omega-3 fatty acid, into the milk at substantially higher levels.”
Flax, once primarily associated with the health-food market, now finds its way into the cereal and bakery aisle in mainstream markets. Though flaxseed is traditionally supplied in whole or ground form, Newton, Wis.-based ENRECO Inc. recently introduced the product as a nugget to give food processors and bakers a healthful way to add an inclusion piece containing flax, notes Chad Boeckman, the company's national sales manager. Ease of use, flavor and health all were given consideration when formulating, he adds.
“We got the idea for this ingredient when we learned how consumers like to sprinkle our premium stabilized whole-milled flaxseed onto their cereals, yogurts or salads,” explains Sean Moriarty, president, ENRECO.
Flaxseed nuggets are 100 percent whole grain, and rich in omega-3 oils, antioxidants and total dietary fiber. About 13 g of flaxseed nuggets provides nearly 70 percent of an average adult's alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) omega-3 requirement. In addition, flaxseed nuggets are gluten- and allergen-free. Flavors include brown flaxseed, golden flaxseed, flax and cranberry, or flax and other customized fruits and seasonings.
Though a typical flavored nugget formulation, such as flax and cranberry, contains corn syrup, an all-natural version will be introduced this fall. While rancidity can be an issue with ground flax because of the high levels of polyunsaturated fats, ENRECO uses a proprietary process to prevent this type of spoilage. As a result, the flaxseed nuggets can be stored at ambient temperatures for at least 12 months. One of the benefits of flaxseed in a nugget form is the evidence of piece identity in finished baked foods. Minimal impact on finished products can be achieved by adding flaxseed nuggets as a final step during the mixing stage, which prevents breakage and color from leaching, Boeckman notes.
Consumers seeking more healthful products reportedly search for added textural benefits as well. Grains and seeds provide such benefits. Multigrain inclusions are available as crisps, flakes and nuggets. Some ingredient suppliers have the capability to coat and flavor soy nuggets, for instance, with chocolate or compound coating. ConAgra Mills' coarse eight-grain and seed inclusion with crushed wheat, chopped rye, millet, Sustagrain® barley flakes, cornmeal, steel-cut oats, flaxseeds and sunflower seeds, adds visual interest and flavor to pan and artisan-style breads, crackers, cookies, dessert and granola bars, and muffins, notes Elizabeth Arndt, research and development manager for the Omaha, Neb.-based company.
“In breads, the coarse eight-grain and seed inclusion can be added to the sponge at a level up to 35 percent flour basis,” Arndt says.
“The addition of 20 percent to 35 percent flour basis works well in hearty-style breads, pizza crusts and hearth rolls.”
Fruit and vegetable bits are reportedly gaining ground in breads, cookies, muffins, snack bars and other baked items. Superfruits, or fruit high in antioxidants, are in particular demand, including blueberries, pomegranate, açai and goji berries, among others. Vegetable ingredients provide a means of product differentiation. Hot peppers, in particular, are particularly trendy.
“Softfrozen™ purees can add fresh vegetable and herb flavor to doughs and wet mixes,” says Dan Hemming, R&D manager, Gilroy Foods & Flavors, Omaha. Softfrozen vegetables thaw rapidly and are scoopable from the freezer. Flavors include fire-roasted tomato, garlic, onion, roasted sweet red bell pepper and Asian, Latin and Mediterranean blends. Fire-roasted and grilled, controlled moisture vegetables can be used in pizza dough, flatbread and focaccia. “The controlled moisture process eliminates excess free water in vegetables by up to 50 percent, resulting in vegetables that stay firm and flavorful and dough that stays crisp, not soggy,” Hemming says.
Regardless of the ingredient chosen, bakers can differentiate their products in many ways. A variety of products not only provide distinctive flavors and textures, but added health benefits as well. With all of the choices available, bakers shouldn't find it difficult to produce products that stand out from the crowd.
When adding indulgence with chocolate, the most difficult decision bakers usually have to make is milk or dark chocolate. Though, after further exploration, the choice of chocolate can be so much more intricate, from flavored chocolate or compound coatings to that produced from an exclusive origin that carries with it the flavors and aromatics of flowers, fruits and herbs of the soil where the cacoa beans are grown and harvested.
People want to have new experiences with inclusions, and specialty chocolates give bakers a unique opportunity to provide distinctive flavor profiles, notes Beau Netzer, vice president of gourmet sales, Barry Callebaut, Chicago. Country of origin chocolates give bakers a distinctive way of differentiating their products. Callebaut's Sao Thomé dark chocolate from Africa contains 70 percent cocoa, is bitter, acidic and slightly sweet, with an aromatic floral character and subtle notes of olives, peas, spices and fruits. Ghana dark chocolate, with 60 percent cocoa, has a well-rounded flavor with red fruit notes and aromatics of chestnuts and spices.
Whether dark or milk chocolate is selected, subtle variations in flavor from a select country of origin can set one type of inclusion apart from another.