A burgeoning group of consumers are demanding whole grain, natural and organic bakery products. These trends impact the selections of every ingredient in the formulas, including dough conditioners. And while dough conditioners are only a minute portion of formulations, dough conditioners encompass a myriad of ingredients that dramatically affect loaf volume, extensibility, machineability and shelf life.
Careful selection of the types and quantities of dough conditioners allow wholesale bakers to formulate more healthful bakery products to meet these new consumer trends. Some bakeries will opt to formulate their own blends, but others will prefer the consistency and convenience of dough conditioner blends. The right blend allows bakers to optimize production processes and minimize costs.
Whole grain impact
Whole grains continue to dominate new product introductions for 2006. Bakers may find that they need to dose their dough conditioners at higher levels for whole grain breads or add vital wheat gluten. One dough conditioner manufacturer gives an example: "For a similar performance, a concentrated 1% dough conditioner might be used at 1.25% on whole grain applications." This manufacturer offers a dough conditioner that bakers add at 1% to 2% on flour weight. It is suitable for whole grain bread items and may be used as high as 2.5%, depending on the whole grain bread application, the manufacturer says.
"It is more difficult to get a good texture with whole grains, which typically have a tighter grain and a slightly tougher chew," he says. "U.S. bakeries are slightly behind Europeans, where the whole grain trend has been popular for a while. The trick is to get the American white bread eaters moving toward whole grain. Expecting a more tight, chewier bread with a tougher bite, these consumers have to be convinced the crumb of a whole grain bread can be pleasant and soft. Bakers should provide these types of whole grain breads."
Another dough conditioner manufacturer says that white whole wheat breads do not pose a significant challenge for this ingredient. "Often these breads can be successfully formulated with a dough conditioner system that lies somewhere between what is required for a traditional white bread and a more hearty, whole grain bread. Generally the white whole wheats do not require as much oxidation as a red whole wheat," he says.
However, the addition of whole grain adds considerable dead weight to the dough, and therefore the level and type of dough conditioner must be able to handle the added stress on the dough, one dough conditioner supplier says. While typical dough conditioners have been based on EMG, SSL, CSL and Datem Esters, the new ones are based on enzymes. Also, whole grain breads stale faster than white breads, and so enzymes play an important role in extending shelf lives.
While bakery enzymes do provide dough strength, another important role is to provide crumb softness and shelf-life extension. "Crumb softening enzyme products typically are a cocktail of several enzymes that obtain optimum functionality. The main component is an amylase, with other enzymes added to enhance its activity," says another manufacturer of dough conditioners.
Often these bioactive catalysts work hand-in-hand with emulsifiers, oxidizers, reducers and yeast foods. The right combination of enzymes may eliminate or reduce the levels of emulsifiers required to keep bread soft over time. This manufacturer offers a line of ingredients for shelf life extension. These ingredients utilize a G4-amylase, which cuts off maltotetrose (G4) units from the amylopectin side chains. This will reduce amylopectin retrogradation and therefore slow staling by enhancing crumb softness and resilience, the manufacturer says. When an enzyme cocktail replaces the emulsifier, a dramatically lower usage level is achieved. Adding a few extra days of shelf life may be one of the most important functions of dough conditioners, and demand for this function remains strong.
Dough strengthening enzymes include xylanases, hexose or glucose oxidase, and lipases offered as single activities or blends. Xylanases improve dough strength by breaking down aribanoxylans. This improves gluten development and increases viscosity to improve gas retention of the dough. Oxidatative enzymes, such as hexose and glucose oxidase, improve dough strength by creating hydrogen peroxide. This is done through the utilization of available dough sugars and oxygen. Lipases function by creating polar lipids from available flour lipids. These polar lipids stabilize gas cells by aligning themselves along the gas cell's interface.
One dough conditioner supplier says his company has developed a time-release oxidation system that replaces potassium bromate and dough conditioners that are used at 1% to 2% (basis flour), and has a usage level of 0.125%. Another supplier suggests a combination of glycolipases, other strengthening enzymes and dough strengthening emulsifiers to provide dough strength and tolerance in high-speed bread and roll operations. Xylanase improves processing by creating drier and more extensible doughs. It also enhances dough strength, which will provide tolerance to various abuses in the production process, the supplier says.
Two primary factors that affect enzyme activity are time and temperature. Dough temperature has relatively modest effects on enzyme activity within the range of dough temperatures typically used in a bakery. For example, the difference between 78°F and 82°F will not have an impact on enzyme activity. At 110°F, there would be a dramatic impact, but bakers are not going to be running dough in that temperature range. On the other hand, process times have a major impact on enzymes, and bakers should be cognizant of process times when selecting both the types and quantities of enzymes used. For example, a dough that is retarded overnight would generally require a lower level of enzymes. Because enzymes are measured in parts per millions as opposed to at least 0.5% to 2% (flour basis) typical dough conditioners, the lower usage level more than offsets the cost. Savings may exceed 50% for the baker.
Dough conditioner systems
Bakeries may eliminate the costs and headaches of working with individual enzymes and purchase a dough conditioner system that is specific to their products. "The use of a dough conditioner system also eliminates the need for carrying a large inventory of individual enzymes, which are very expensive on a pound basis," one manufacturer says. Pure concentrated enzymes are not easy to scale, and require the use of protective gear to minimize irritation. Some are offered in more dilute form, often as non-dusting agglomerates standardized with special wheat flour.
Dough conditioner blends typically are used at levels of 0.5% to 2%, and are specific to product type. For example, a Kaiser roll requires oxidation, whereas an Italian or French bread requires more extensibility. Some manufacturers will choose proprietary blends, custom formulated to their plant processes. If bakers have long intermediate proofs, the conditioner blend will be tweaked to optimize that process.
The use of fluid or liquid dough conditioners has been been gaining interest in the United States. A pumpable conditioner system offers material handling advantages, especially for large wholesale bakeries.
Natural and organic
Consumers who opt for whole grain breads generally prefer a clean label, which is another reason why formulas for natural and organic breads tend to rely more on enzyme technology than on oxidizers and reducers. Many bakers have opted to use enzymes to completely eliminate chemical dough conditioners such as potassium iodate, potassium bromate, L-cysteine and metabisulfite.
The organic trend has affected the entire food industry, yet some wholesale bakers consider it a niche market. When industry giant Wal-Mart said earlier this year that it was going to double its organic offerings, it was a clear signal that organic has gone mainstream. Bakers who choose to develop organic formulas need to remember that enzymes used in organic products cannot be genetically modified.
There are various levels of organic certification, and organic regulations allow for the use of non-organic ingredients where these ingredients are "not commercially available in organic form." The term "Organic" is assigned to products that contain at least 95% organic ingredients, and is distinct from "100% Organic." Since many enzymes have been derived by genetic modification, it is possible to use nonorganic dough conditioner to achieve the "Organic" but not the "100% Organic" label.
Trans fats and other options
The other dominant trend for 2006 has been the elimination of trans fats, which has not had a large impact on the choices of dough conditioners. However, some dough conditioners are provided as part of a "base" which typically includes salt, sugar and shortening for ease of use. Bases may be either free-flowing powders or shortening-based "plastics." In the case of plastics, dough conditioner suppliers have the option of replacing hydrogenated shortening with palm oil. To avoid the saturated fat of palm oil, one manufacturer has a plastic base that uses vegetable oil and a patent-pending emulsifier blend to produce a firm setting plastic. Mention the term dough conditioners, and the first ingredient