Formulators take the guesswork out of gluten-free processing

by Charlotte Atchley
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A concern for gluten-free formulators is improvement in processing capability.

“In the first wave, there is that desire to get something out there in the market, and then you want to improve on what you’ve done,” said Beth Arndt, Ph.D., senior director of R.&D., ConAgra Mills, Omaha. “You want it to run better, be more efficient.”

On top of improving taste, texture, shelf life, variety and cost, bakery formulators are exploring how to make their batters more resilient and doughs more sheetable. Todd Giesfeldt, mill R.&D. senior manager, Didion Milling, said automation issues with gluten-free may include texture, dough rise, dough conditioning time, bake time and browning — all things formulators continue to troubleshoot.

“Our customers want a product that is easy to process that’s not going to require new conditions,” said Patrick O’Brien, bakery marketing manager, Ingredion.

Gluten-free products lack viscosity and elasticity, making them difficult to machine on conventional equipment. Whether using different grains or functional ingredients to improve the dough or choosing the proper equipment to handle odd consistencies, formulators continue to search for ways to improve how gluten-free products act in a commercial bakery.

Flour blends from Bay State Milling Co. help mixer operators properly batch gluten-free products.

“If an operator is accustomed to adding flour, water and minor ingredients to a batch, they need not stray from their normal routine if the gluten-free flours, starches and functional ingredients are pre-blended in the bag already,” said Vanessa Klimczak, the company’s senior product applications technologist. The company formulates its blends for 1:1 replacement of conventional flours.
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