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Maintenance and improvement of baking properties with the use of weak or composite flours

12 March 20185 min reading

Over the years, soft wheat has usually been cheaper than hard wheat. Using a mixture of the two can help to cut costs. However, the baking properties of mixtures of hard and soft wheat deteriorate as the proportion of soft wheat increases. Whereas water absorption normally decreases as the percentage of soft wheat rises, a higher level can be maintained by adding EMCEgluten Enhancer 22. The product has a positive effect on stability too.

Dr. Lutz Popper

Dr. Lutz Popper - Mühlenchemie GmbH & Co. KG

Millers are faced with constantly changing challenges. The available raw material varies with each harvest; the prices are volatile and do not always correspond to the different qualities. Whereas the difference in price between hard and soft wheat was about 100 US$/t in 2008, the price of the two varieties was equal by mid 2010. The superior product hard red winter wheat is currently some 35 US$/t dearer than soft red winter wheat (Figure 1). And the differences in price will continue to reflect supply and demand.

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This changes the point of departure for the purchase of raw materials. Mills want to offer their customers uniform quality at a reasonable price. Retailers and consumers expect stable prices, and in many cases it is not practicable to raise prices on the grounds of more expensive raw materials. There are various ways of keeping costs and baking properties stable. Some of them are described in this article.

Weak flours The definition of quality and good flour depends on the products to be baked from it. A manufacturer of biscuits and crackers looks for different properties in his flours from a producer of sandwich bread. Since the consumption of sandwich bread is greatest worldwide, the trials were conducted with white pan bread baked without a lid (topless).

In sandwich bread, the use of weak, low-gluten flours results in a loss of stability and volume and reduced water absorption; this in turn has a negative effect on yield. The problem is often solved by adding vital wheat gluten.

The availability and price of vital wheat gluten are just as unpredictable as the price of wheat. For several months the price has shown an upward trend (see Figure 2). The EMCEgluten Enhancer was developed to improve stability and volume. Baking trials have shown that 1% wheat gluten can be replaced by 0.1% EMCEgluten Enhancer. Figure 3 illustrates the increase in volume achieved through the use of 0.3% EMCEgluten Enhancer 21 and 22 as compared to the basic treatment.

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Mixtures of hard and soft wheat Over the years, soft wheat has usually been cheaper than hard wheat. Using a mixture of the two can help to cut costs. However, the baking properties of mixtures of hard and soft wheat deteriorate as the proportion of soft wheat increases. Table 1 shows the results from the farinograms. Whereas water absorption normally decreases as the percentage of soft wheat rises, a higher level can be maintained by adding EMCEgluten Enhancer 22. The product has a positive effect on stability too.

The results from the farinograph were confirmed by baking trials performed at the same time. For example, a 70:30 mixture with the addition of 0.1% EMCEgluten Enhancer 22 produced a loaf similar to that of an 80:20 mixture without the product (Figure 4).

With 0.05 – 0.1% EMCEgluten Enhancer per 10% soft wheat it is possible to keep the results of the baking process practically uniform.

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Composite flour, taking cassava as an example According to FAO statistics, 252 mill. t of cassava were harvested worldwide in 2011. Over 50% of this global volume are grown in Africa alone. With 52 mill. t and thus a good 20% share of the total harvest, Nigeria is the world’s biggest cassava producer (see Table 2).

Cassava thrives in areas where wheat cannot be grown. Use of cassava in bread baking therefore supports the country’s domestic agriculture and lessens the need for imported wheat.

However, cassava flour is gluten-free, and its use as a raw material disrupts the structure-forming function of the protein from the wheat flour. In order to make cassava loaves that can compete with pure wheat bread, the dough has to be strengthened and the baking properties improved. For this purpose, vital wheat gluten is often added. In the trial shown in Figures 5 and 6, the bread was baked with 10% cassava flour. The comparison was made between the addition of 4% vital wheat gluten and the addition of only 1% wheat gluten and 0.3% EMCEgluten Enhancer 22. This modification significantly enhanced the quality of the end products, which showed itself chiefly in greatly increased volume and a more uniform crumb structure. The loaves remained stable even with over-fermentation.

It was found that the dough processing and baking methods did not have to be adjusted for use of the EMCEgluten Enhancer.

To sum up, it may be said that the EMCEgluten Enhancer series with its combination of enzymes, vegetable fibres and in some cases ascorbic acid or hydrocolloids offers a practical solution to a number of problems: besides the advantages of better water absorption, dough stability and volume development in the baking process it can help to cut costs. The very fact that only one-tenth of the amount of vital wheat gluten has to be transported, stored and worked in makes EMCEgluten Enhancer an interesting alternative. The possibility of using cheaper raw materials without a loss of the expected quality is a further point in its favour.

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