The not-so-secret weapon

by Donna Berry
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Attendees at the recent Anuga expo in Cologne, Germany, should not have been surprised to hear Elena Groothuizen, market analyst, Innova Market Insights, The Netherlands, say that touting the protein content of foods and beverages is one of the hottest global food trends. “The messages about protein are only positive,” she observed. And the benefits of consuming a high-protein diet resonate with consumers. “People are looking for extra protein in everything they consume, even baked goods and, in particular, snack foods.”

Protein enrichment can solve formulation challenges for bakers who want to offer better-for-you products without sacrificing taste or texture, according to Cheryl Borders, research manager, soy foods, applications and technical service, edible beans, ADM, Decatur, IL. “Protein may help in increasing satiety, which can help in weight maintenance and in reducing overall caloric intake,” she said. “And maintaining a healthy weight is important because obesity interferes with maintaining healthy serum levels of cholesterol and glucose.”

Besides its nutritive value and health benefits, protein also provides important functional properties. “All baked goods benefit from some form of protein addition, but the functionality may vary according to the type of baked good and the type of protein used,” noted Kristen Coad, food application senior specialist, baking, Roquette, Geneva, IL. “For example, in cakes, protein helps in emulsification, leading to better softness in the end product and better mouthfeel for the ­consumer. In bread, [the protein] gluten aids in structure and foaming, helping to develop the overall texture of the product.”

Protein sources are on the rise, but the functionalities remain the same; the difference is in how formulators use them. “The innovations lie in the intersection between nutritional research and consumer demands,” Ms. Coad said. Research has shown that proteins affect varying levels of satiety. “We know that the weight management market is huge in the US, and offering baked goods with proven satiety benefits can bring value for both manufacturers and consumers,” she noted.

Enriching without collateral damage

Palatability is a key challenge when it comes to protein fortification of baked goods, according to Luis Hernandez, technical and business development manager, Fonterra USA, Rosemont, IL. “There is always an impact on functionality and flavor when macro-­components are added to or removed from a food ­formulation,” he said.

“If protein is not incorporated properly, it can lead to problems with grittiness or phase separation,” Mr. Hernandez added. “And because baked goods are low-moisture food systems, and proteins tend to compete with other ingredients for available water, ­protein ­enrichment can cause baked goods to stale faster

than normal.”

Fonterra currently is working with several food brands for protein enrichment of products that already contain small amounts. The company’s specialty milk proteins allow formulators to boost protein levels while preventing any changes in mouthfeel. “Such functional milk proteins can directly replace some of the flour in a formula to reach the desired finished product protein content,” Mr. Hernandez observed.

Something else to consider when adding dairy proteins to baked goods is the ingredient’s inherent carbohydrate content. Nonfat dry milk and whole milk powder are both sources of dairy proteins, but they also contain lactose. “Too high of levels of lactose can lead to an undesired browning effect, either in the form of a darker-color product or a burnt taste,” Mr. Hernandez continued. “You want to select higher protein milk concentrates with less lactose to better handle the browning and balance the carbohydrate content of the finished product.”

Protein-plus ingredients

Some new ingredients available to bakers provide ­protein … and a whole lot more.

Roquette offers a line of protein ingredients derived from yellow peas, described by Neelesh Varde, ­marketing product manager, protein. “Yellow pea protein works well for enrichment in baked goods and can also add some functionality for water binding, dough conditioning, structure development and emulsification, depending on the specific application,” Mr. Varde said. “One of our newer ingredients includes protein algae flour developed from microalgae. The protein flour also includes some fiber, which contributes to the

functionality of the ingredient.”

Precooked, dehydrated edible bean powders — made from navy, black and pinto beans — are more nutrient-dense than typical cereal grains and flours and contain a significant amount of protein. Ms. Borders advised that in bakery applications, flour can be replaced 1:1 with the cooked bean powder, with a starting point of 10 to 30% replacement, adjusting the liquids as necessary. The increased protein in bean powders usually requires more liquid in the formulation.

“The viscosity of the dough may also be affected,” Ms. Borders noted. Depending on the process or product, approaches may include adding the bean powder later in the process or creaming it with the fat component to coat the particles and slow water absorption.

At the 2013 International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) last month in Las Vegas, Horizon Milling LLC, Minneapolis, introduced a defatted wheat germ ingredient to help bakers and snack manufacturers meet today’s demands for full-flavor grain-based foods rich in protein and fiber.

“Defatted wheat germ delivers a unique proposition by providing protein, fiber, taste and texture,” said William Hale, business development leader. “This multidimensional ingredient offers more than 26% protein, approximately 15% fiber and a multitude of vitamins and minerals. Defatted wheat germ improves nutrition, enhances flavor and enriches the texture of the end product.”

Produced after extracting the oil from raw wheat germ, this protein-rich material is shelf-stable and available in a range of colors from light tan to dark brown. Defatted wheat germ works well in bagels, breads, cereals, cookies, crackers, donuts, granola mixes, pretzels, snack bars and tortillas.

Also at IBIE, Arla Foods Ingre-dients, Basking Ridge, NJ, introduced a portfolio of multi-­functional proteins derived exclusively from milk. The ingredients are designed to offer bakers greater productivity, improved efficiency and more consistent quality. Because they can appear on the ingredient statement simply as “whey” or “whey protein concentrate,” they also help bakers achieve cleaner labels.

“Our new line of milk-based functional proteins addresses all the common headaches, including cracking in cakes and bread and variations in product size and color,” said Terese O’Neill, regional sales manager. “They make great products even better, helping bakers achieve perfect end results in high volumes time after time.”

The range was developed as a result of the company’s experience with supplying milk proteins for egg replacement. Although the main driver for using egg replacers is cost, Ms. O’Neill noted that in some markets, customers were using milk proteins, even where there was no cost benefit, for specific improvements to the production process.

“This inspired us to develop a new range of ingredients that provides the product formulator with an entirely new set of purpose-designed tools,” Ms. O’Neill said.

After six months and approximately 500 internal and external trials using different milk proteins in a variety of bakery products, the research team identified three specific proteins that displayed the desired, specific functional benefits. It ran further trials with them using a range of recipes. “The end result is our new toolbox of dairy protein-based ingredients,” Ms. O’Neill noted.

One ingredient in the line ­provides softness in bread without reducing crumb resilience or elasticity. It also offers increased strength in cakes for better slicing quality and stabilizes aerated batter systems for higher volume and stability. “Another ingredient offers improved mixing tolerance, produces a more stable batter and ­provides superb emulsification properties in a whole range of wheat-based baked goods, including bread,” Ms. O’Neill said. “A high-gelling protein ingredient is designed to create excellent structure and strength in baked goods, providing optimum viscosity in most batter systems, greater water retention and excellent emulsification.”

The proteins foster improved stability by locking in the air whipped into batters and the water kneaded into dough, resulting in optimum freshness, texture and resilience throughout a product’s shelf life. Because they help baked goods maintain perfect sensory properties for a longer time, waste is reduced, which increases profit margins, ­according to Ms. O’Neill.

Unexpected vehicles

Protein can be delivered in surprising ways. For example, fruit preparations and caramel are also frequently used in baked goods to deliver an indulgent experience. “Fonterra developed a new range of functional dairy protein ingredients that make it possible to achieve protein levels of 15 to 18% in flavorful sweet variegates,” Mr. Hernandez noted.

Adding seeds or nuts topically or directly to the batter or dough is another option. “Not only do these ingredients give baked products a healthy, aesthetic look, but they also add protein to the finished product,” said Sarah Wood, senior applications scientist, Penford Food Ingredients, Centennial, CO.

“And ancient grains provide baked goods with protein, fiber and vitamins,” Ms. Wood added. “Another trend is the use of non-­traditional, higher-protein flours such as those based on corn, quinoa, teff and legumes.”

Minneapolis-based Cargill ­offers a line of protein-enriched confectionary ingredients suitable for baking applications. This includes cocoa confectionery protein wafers and milk confectionery protein wafers that are formulated with 20% total protein. These wafers can be melted and used to coat and enrobe bakery products.

There are also two protein-­enriched inclusions. “Our white chocolate protein drops are formulated with 10% total protein and meet the Standard of Identity for white chocolate,” Mr. Rahn indicated. “These drops have a great white chocolate flavor and a strong visual appeal. The product with the most protein — 25% — is the cocoa confectionery protein drops.

“We boost the protein content of all our confectionery ingredients through the addition of whey,” Mr. Rahn said. “Adding dairy proteins to coatings tends to increase viscosity. To resolve this issue, we use larger particles, which bind less fat than finer particles because they allow more free fat to circulate in the coating without increasing overall fat content.”

The larger particles also help maintain coating viscosity, making it suitable for enrobing or bottom-coating of nutrition or snack bars, he added.

At IBIE, Cargill sampled “Chocolatey Peanut Butter Protein Granola Bars.” The bottoms of the bars were coated with melted cocoa confectionery protein wafers, enabling a 40-g serving to deliver 5 g protein and only 160 Cal and 6 g fat.

Mr. Rahn indicated that to avoid adding fat and calories, the coating’s protein is suspended within a fat matrix. To enable enrobing, the fat in the coating melts, allowing it to readily flow. “After the protein-­enriched coating cools, the fat converts back to a solid form and holds the protein and other components in a stable suspension,” he said.

In addition to using any of these protein confections in snack bars, the drops can be added to cookies, muffins, breads, snack mixes or any other bakery application where increased protein levels are desired.

As consumers become more educated about the perks of increased dietary protein, they will likely seek out all types of foods and beverages, including baked goods, for their protein content. The good news for bakers is that protein is inherently present in traditional wheat-based flours, and there are numerous ingredient options to add other proteins for both nutrition and functionality.

 

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