Starch, the overachiever
Bakeries are asking starches to do more than what they already do best.
Starch suppliers are no strangers to contradictory requests. Clean-label gluten free desserts. Fresh-tasting, shelf-stable breads. “Low-cal” cookies and donuts. Still, they continue to evolve to meet changing demand.
Whether improving texture, reducing fat and sugar content or helping retain moisture in bakery products, by their nature, starches serve a variety of useful functions. But operators are asking more of them than ever, says Dilek Uzunalioglu, senior associate in the applications group at National Starch Food Innovation, Bridgewater, N.J. “Bakeries are increasingly looking to starch to deliver benefits that stretch beyond the fundamentals to include the enhancement of nutritional profiles and the reduction of overall costs.”
Testing the limits of shelf stability
Starches’ ability to manage moisture in bakery products like muffins, snack cakes and brownies makes them an important ingredient for maintaining shelf stability. However, traditional formulations aren’t living up to operators’ demands for longer frozen shelf life and wider distribution.
“Manufacturers are requiring up to 18 months of frozen shelf life, more ambient temperature life and extended distribution,” says Celeste Sullivan, technical manager at Grain Processing Corp. (GPC), Muscatine, Iowa, adding that many formulations can’t stand up to such demands. “They see increased moisture migration and loss; wet, sticky top surfaces; shrinkage; cracking and large air cells and tunnels that contribute to moisture loss.”
She attributes the problem to over-stabilized frozen bakery systems that don’t hydrate properly. “For 40 years, the industry has used modified traditional drum dried starch ingredients to increase the perceived moisture content, thus increasing the shelf life of frozen bakery cakes, muffins and cookies,” she says. These fragments of starch granules hydrate and swell, but are unable to bind water effectively. While this “band-aid effect,” as Sullivan calls it, has worked in the past, it doesn’t survive lengthy frozen storage times.
GPC thus introduced INSCOSITY B656, a modified, cold-water swelling instant starch that remains intact when baked. The product is the result of a two-year frozen storage study GPC conducted with the American Institute of Baking (AIB). A trial yellow layer cake formula was used to measure the effects of modified and unmodified starch on the volume, texture and crumb structure of a cake. The researchers completed subjective tests of such characteristics as grain and crumb size, thickness, cake shape, color, aroma, flavor and mouthfeel.
“The starch is not in pieces or fragments of starch granules,” Sullivan says. “Therefore, the water can be bound within the granule.” The product allows manufacturers to cut back on using multiple starches and hydrocolloids–or substances that form gel with water–which can lead to significant cost savings. Plus, it doesn’t require any processing or formula adjustment.
“The slightly lower viscosity in the batter compared to some other traditional drum dried starches helps to reduce the tendency for large air cells and tunnels in the finished cake or muffin,” Sullivan says.
For Ody Maningat, vice president of applications technology and technical services at Atchison, Kan.-based MGP Ingredients Inc., aside from increasing the quality of high-fiber products, volume bakery customers’ main concerns are with shelf-life extension and cost reduction. MGP’s Pregel 40 product addresses all of these issues, he says. “MGP’s Pregel 40, a pre-gelatinized modified wheat starch, is successful in muffins because of its high water absorption and moisture retention properties. It can also be used as a substitute for more expensive gums or hydrocolloids like guar gum.”
Pregel 40 has a high capacity for water absorption; 1 g. holds 18 to 20 gs. of water, and it forms a paste at 5 percent concentration at room temperature. This is “very useful in increasing the viscosity of batters to the right consistency,” Maningat says. “And after baking, Pregel 40 helps with moistness and softness retention of products even at extended storage time.”
Gluten-free comes of age
The dramatic growth of the gluten-free bakery market in recent years exemplifies how evolving consumer demands have shaped flour solution development. Retail sales of gluten-free products reached $2.46 billion in 2010–outpacing expectations–and they are on track to hit $5.5 billion by 2015, according to Packaged Facts, Rockville, Md. Formulations have matured alongside the category, as R&D teams get more adept at mimicking the textural characteristics of wheat-based bakery products.
GPC developed a number of both natural and modified starches to replace wheat flour without losing quality and integrity, Sullivan says. Because the ingredients are all made from corn, they are acceptable for wheat-free formulations. INSCOSITY B656 “improves the moisture retention, increases dough and batter viscosities and controls cookie spread.” INSTANT PURE-COTE B792 is another modified starch from GPC that adds textural bite, chewiness and film-forming properties in gluten-free formulas. And PURE-DENT B700 unmodified cornstarch is a clean-flavored bulking agent that contributes to cell structure and product volume without a powdery mouthfeel.
National Starch’s HOMECRAFT Create is a drop-in wheat flour replacer for gluten-free refrigerated/frozen and dry mix applications that eliminates common undesirable traits like grittiness and crumbliness. An output of National Starch’s propriety Dial-In Texture Technology, this data-driven approach selects the appropriate level and intensity of individual textural attributes in various baked products. Thus, gluten-free cookies, muffins and cakes retain moisture and can last longer in storage than traditional gluten-free items.
The ability to make fiber claims on bakery products allows operators to distinguish their products from the competition and build credibility as an authority on healthful food choices. In order to be considered a good source of fiber, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that a product contain at least 10 percent the daily value of fiber, or at least 2.5 grams per serving. To be considered an excellent source of fiber, a product must contain at least 20 percent the daily value of fiber, or 5 grams or more per serving.
As consumers are expressing more interest in their overall health and well being, more dietary fiber is being added to bakery formulations because of its ability to help protect against cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and promote gastrointestinal health and weight management, Sullivan says. Still, most Americans only consume somewhere between one-third to half the recommended amount of fiber, which is 38 grams per day for adult men and 25 grams per day for adult women.
One of the historic challenges of meeting fiber claims has been maintaining flavor and consistency in the product. No matter how badly consumers want to eat more fiber, they rarely want to give up flavor and texture to do so–especially when it comes to sweetgoods, which are traditionally meant to be indulgent.
GPC’s TruBran is a golden brown fiber made from dent corn that is processed to produce high-fiber (up to 85 percent insoluble fiber), natural corn bran with added stability and microbiological counts, Sullivan says. More importantly for consumer appeal, its neutral flavor doesn’t interfere with the flavor profile of a range of baked products. “In sweetgoods such as waffles, cookies and muffins, it can be used to enhance color and texture while maintaining a neutral flavor,” she adds. “It is also suitable for bread products by blending it with other ingredients. In extruded snacks and cereals, chips, bars and baked snacks it provides a clean flavor profile and requires few formulation changes.” Its low water absorption capacity also translates to few formulation or processing adjustments.
How clean is your label?
Going hand in hand with demand for healthy baked items, consumers increasingly are seeking nutrition labels that contain ingredients they recognize and can pronounce. Indeed, the push to clean up labels has had far-reaching effects across the baking industry, as volume suppliers are now tasked with reducing additives and preservatives while still maintaining the moisture, texture and flavor consumers have come to expect.
“Today’s consumers are reading ingredient statements and seeking baked products with lower fat and calories, whole grains, fiber and gluten-free ingredients. But that doesn’t mean they will sacrifice taste and texture,” says National Starch’s Uzunalioglu. “So bakery manufacturers, in turn, need to create the same indulgence, texture and mouthfeel while providing solutions for label-savvy consumers.”
HOMECRAFT Create 765 is a clean-label functional starch that lets operators reduce “costly fat ingredients, such as butter, shortening and oils in indulgent baked goods while maintaining taste, texture and quality,” Uzunalioglu adds.
The product allows manufacturers to reduce fat content by up to 60 percent without affecting flavor or texture. For example, a brownie formula using about 2.29 percent HOMECRAFT Create 765 results in a 25 percent reduction in fat and about 11.8 percent decrease in calories, according to materials from National Starch. Additionally, it can contribute processing benefits by reducing the fat fraction in the raw materials to improve transport and mixing.
The starch that wants to be a fiber
During the 1980s, scientists studying cereal grains came across a starch that behaved more like a fiber; more specifically, it was resistant to digestion and didn’t break down until it reached the lower intestine. Since this discovery, starch manufacturers are finding new ways to incorporate this unconventional starch into bakery applications because of its many health benefits–and are looking to educate consumers in the process.
“The numerous health benefits of resistant starch are centered around its positive impact on glycemic (blood sugar) and weight management. This is most easily recognized through extended satiety and carbohydrate metabolism,” says Rhonda Whitwer, senior business development manager for National Starch. “These very benefits pose an increasing opportunity to educate consumers about the benefits of healthy carbohydrates. While consumers are increasing their consumption of whole grains and dietary fiber, carbohydrates in general are not perceived as ‘healthy.’”
Hi-maize resistant starch from National Starch replaces a portion of flour in a range of baked products while maintaining the taste, aroma and overall sensory appeal of un-fortified baked items, Whitwer says. “Another major challenge within the industry is to understand that not all fibers, and not all resistant starches, are the same,” she notes, adding that Hi-maize’s main benefits are in the areas of glycemia, weight management and digestive health.
Hi-maize replaces as much as 20 percent of flour in baked products and absorbs less moisture than traditional fibers, which translates to minimal formula adjustments, Uzunalioglu adds.
“Most conventional fibers like cereal brans are brown or dark-colored, have coarse particles and have off or bitter taste,” says Maningat. “As a result, they negatively impact the taste, texture, appearance and water absorption water requirements of bakery products.”
Unlike conventional fiber, resistant starch has a low water holding capacity, neutral flavor and color and smooth, non-gritty texture. In particular, resistant starch provides an “invisible” fiber source, is highly compatible with wheat flour and is easy to incorporate into dough or batter systems.
Fibersym RW is a resistant wheat starch created by MGP that is low in calories and delivers 6 to 7 grams of fiber per serving. “Resistant starch, in particular, Fibersym RW, is poorly digestible (delivers around 85 percent fiber), resulting in reduced glycemic and insulin responses,” Maningat says. “The indigestible residue of Fibersym RW when inoculated with fresh human fecal microbiota undergoes fermentation producing short chain fatty acids like acetic, propionic and butyric acids.” Butyric acid has been shown to prevent tumor formation, thus reducing the risk for developing cancer.
As today’s informed consumer demands more than ever from baked products, suppliers are pressed to deliver healthful products that don’t taste healthful and cost-effective solutions that maintain the luxury and nostalgic experience consumers have always demanded from bakery.
“Formulating gluten-free, enhancing nutritional profiles, and creating clean-label, natural products are the most common trends in the bakery industry,” says Uzunalioglu. “Ingredient manufacturers need to make sure their products provide those solutions while maintaining an eating experience similar to that of traditional products.”
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