With fluctuating weather patterns and volatile import availability and tariffs, flour millers have had their work cut out to supply consistent and standard-meeting flour to the bread making community. Demand is set to rapidly outweigh supply in the coming years, putting further pressure on the industry, however, there is extensive research and development being carried out to ensure this vital base material is ready to make good quality, tasty bread.
Colin Simmonds, group development director, AB Mauri, said: “Flour is like many raw materials- they may look the same and behave the same. However, it is true that all bakers start with the same key raw materials, it’s juts that some do better and more with them.
“Much talk is spent on protein levels, but it’s not the actual level that is important it’s the quality that counts. And, adding gluten separately is always going to be expensive. The falling number or level of starch damage is also a contentious issue between miller and baker.”
Simmonds believes an increasingly contentious issue is the blending of wheat varieties to meet a customer driven specification. He said: “This can be a recipe for disaster in the bakery where incompatible wheat strengths are forced together and then at the most stressful moment – dough in the mixer – it all goes terribly wrong. But these “technical issues”, while important, do not illustrate the availability or the opportunity within the whole flour palette that’s available to the baker.
“The real beauty is the sheer spectrum of material which will go towards differentiation and added value. Look at the grain and flour varieties, going from wheat to soy to the “new kid on the block”, oat. As well as maximizing nature’s great gift of grains for flour, there is also the ability to include flour related materials that can compound and deliver unique propositions – and great tasting bread. There are many options and sequences, not just whole wheat, but wheat full of fibre or wheat germ or with added vitamins, seeds and other grains.”
A challenge for the baking industry is to ensure consistent bread quality regardless of the quality of the flour used. Flour correction enzymes like Fungal Alpha-amylase and Amyloglucosidase are helping mills and bread improver meet this challenge, not only by correcting the falling number of flour but also to achieve desired end-product characteristics.
Flour correction enzymes allow bakeries to obtain improved oven spring, loaf volumes and crumb texture for their bread, and bio-solutions leader Novozymes has been the industry standard for reliable flour correction for over 40 years.
Fungamyl standardizes the flour at the mill to compensate for fluctuating flour quality, helping maintain the production of poly-, oligo-, and monosaccharide during leaving, ensuring good, even structure of the bread crumb and high bread volume, as well as increased crust colour and acceleration of the proofing step.
Novozymes is a key industry player, however, there were a number of new launches in 2009 with Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients (LCI) and Aromatic both making ripples with their “natural” product ranges.
Limagrain launched LimaLin, an Omega 3-rich ingredient made from wheat flour and linseed flour, suitable for use in a range of bakery products-with just 5 g of LimaLin, bread, cookies or cereals become a source of Omega 3. For pastry, using LimaLin increases softness in mini-cakes, while fat reduction becomes possible in cookies or biscuits.
Replacing additives or reducing the list of ingredients presents a challenge for the bread making industry – but LCI claims putting solutions into practice need not cost more.
“LCI Glusafe is an innovative solution for cutting costs”, says Anne Lionnet, LCI marketing manager for bakery. “It significantly reduces the incorporation or cheat gluten (-40 per cent), which is an expensive ingredient used by all manufacturers in the bread making industry worldwide.”
While additives form an integral part of the baking industry, the objective of manufacturers is to meet the growing expectation of customers for more natural products and they must therefore adopt the “clean label attitude”, while maintaining the functional aspects of their ingredients.
Lionnet continued: “Cutting down the list of ingredients by eliminating additives isn’t always a simple task as these substances have highly effective functional properties that are sometimes difficult to reproduce.”
LCI make a wide range of ingredients, including functional flours, with high-performance properties for a wide range of applications. Combining these with the other baking ingredients produces alternative solutions to additives, allowing manufacturers to label products “clean label”.
Lionnet added: “Our research has enabled specific additive-free improvers to be developed that maintain the technological properties of dough, maintain the structural qualities of the bread crumb, and keep the taste and texture of the finished product throughout its shelf life.”
In a similar vein, Swedish company Aromatic has launched TTT-products (Swedish acronym for “time, temperature and pressure”), a range of heat-treated functional flours and grains, which are made from pure wheat, rye, barley or oats and available in different grades.
TTT products are heat-treated through a special process which helps them obtain a number of positive and useful characteristics. Without adding any E-numbers to the label, these products help prolong freshness, improve softness and extend the shelf life of the finished bread. The products can replace ingredients like guar gums, vital gluten, enzymes (amylases), pre-gelatinised wheat flour, cold-swelling starches, fibre ingredients, milk etc. in existing recipes, and instead, the bread will be improved by natural means.
Aromatic’s marketing coordinator, Kaarina Pettersson said: TTT-products are often compared with extruded flours, but there is an important difference to consider. Due to the fact that the botanical structure is maintained in TTT-products, the dough does not get sticky and difficult to handle as it does with extruded flours.
“TTT allows bread to be produced with natural ingredients and be prepared without time-consuming scalding and soaking procedures. The end result contains more fibre, stays soft and moist for longer, is less crumbly and free from milk and GMO.
“If this sounds appealing then TTT will be the perfect choice. You will also benefit from a higher dough yield which will improve the efficiency in your production.”
No chemicals or additives are used during the processing of the raw materials and TTT-processed products have a reduced microbiological status.
Depending on product, the shelf life varies from six months (flour) to one year (grits and cut grains), and the products are all of pure vegetable origin and free from GMO. Furthermore, they are all almost non dusting and free from enzymatic activity.
With so much choice in the market place, the final word of advice comes from Simmonds. Despite creating opportunities for new products, he believes these all present different issues for the baker, such as how to maintain moistness in grain bread when grains take all the moisture; what happens when too much fibre is included and the bread tastes dry and mealy; and how can added vitamins be legally promoted.
He added: “These are all real issues which bakers experience as differentiation often demands complexity. My advice is to call your technology partner and he will advise and offer practical help in bakery application and formulation.”