How to replace chemical dough conditioners with enzymes

by Charlotte Atchley
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Chemical dough conditioners can be replaced by enzymes to create a clean label with similar functionality. 

As well-meaning consumers pay closer attention to the ingredient list on bread, bakers look for ways to shorten and simplify it. Consumers remain nervous about ingredients they don’t recognize or understand. Chemical dough conditioners like DATEM, SSL and ADA have been among the casualties in the crusade for clean labels. These ingredients have been used to strengthen dough, soften crumb, improve tolerance and boost volume and a wide range of functions to improve the bread-making process and finished product.

“Traditional dough conditioners, such as DATEM, mono- and di-glycerides and SSL, have been used for many years in bakeries,” said David Guilfoyle, group manager, Bakery and Fats & Oils, DuPont Nutrition & Health. “Recently they’ve been put under the microscope for being ‘unnatural’ and not label-friendly or, in simpler terms, not ‘clean label.’”

Enzymes or blends can provide a more consumer-friendly option for providing the same functionality in bread formulas.

“Enzymes are great alternative ingredients as they are accepted by the public and on the clean label,” said David DelGhingaro, president, Brolite Products.

Enzymes are already present in all living things, explained Deborah Waters, Ph.D., enzymologist, Kerry Ingredients.

“Kerry’s Biobake enzymes are functional proteins made naturally through a fermentation process or extracted from plant material, and each one does a specific job,” she said. “Some enzymes act like scissors that can cut through paper, while others are glue that bind things together. But instead of paper, Biobake enzymes are working on carbohydrates, proteins and lipids in flour. Enzymes can do many of these things, so they can be used to replace dough conditioners in many different applications.”

Replacing chemical dough conditioners with enzymes isn’t a straightforward task, however. It can be done, yes, but it requires analysis, consideration and testing. By answering some important questions and seeking expert advice, bakers can find a clean label dough conditioner that improves dough handling and finished product quality.

Matching function to function
Dough conditioners and enzymes can do a lot of different things, and finding the right enzyme to replace a specific dough conditioner starts with what function you’re trying replicate with a clean ingredient.

“Bakers must consider which chemical dough conditioner they would like to remove from their label and which enzyme solution best matches the effects of that conditioner,” said John Hinds, manager, Cain Food Industries Innovation Center.

Dough conditioners can accomplish many different tasks in a formulation depending on their chemical makeup.

“Dough conditioners contain a variety of ingredients — emulsifiers, oxidizing and reducing agents, enzymes — for improving dough machinability and final bread quality in terms of loaf volume, crumb structure, crumb softness and resilience,” said Jan van Eijk, Ph.D., research director, baking ingredients, Lallemand Baking Solutions.

Enzymes work well as a replacement because they are not only recognizable on an ingredient list but also offer a lot of functionality in bread. Enzymes can dry up a dough that’s too sticky and vice versa if it’s too dry. They can also make doughs more robust for commercial processing.

“They can do a lot to strengthen the dough, but they can do a lot with rheology, too, so you can tailor the solution to really fit what a particular customer needs,” said Jessie Yakubisin, senior technologist in functional ingredients, Corbion. “But then they’re still labeled as enzymes on the packaging, so enzymes definitely cleans up the label without losing functionality that a baker is looking for.”

Although enzymes provide a promising clean label option for bakers, Mr. Guilfoyle warned that finding the best option is not a walk in the park.

“No single enzyme will create the same effect of what chemical dough conditioners can accomplish,” he explained. “Therefore, enzyme manufacturers work hard to find the combination of enzymes that create as much functionality as possible.”

But whether bakers are looking to replace dough strengthening, crumb softening, oxidizing or another function, Mr. Guilfoyle said DuPont can help them understand what exactly dough conditioners and enzymes do and guide them to the right solution for their product and process.

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