Perhaps the biggest challenge when adding fiber to baked foods and snacks is the need to develop products that meet consumer expectations for taste, texture and visual appeal. Adding cereal grain fiber beyond 10% to 20% can make it difficult to maintain essential properties of baked foods.

“Browning can be an issue, although this is less of a problem in corn-based foods where textures are generally short to begin with,” noted Todd Giesfeldt, mill R.&D. senior manager, Didion Milling, Cambria, Wis. “As the amount of cereal fiber in baked goods increases, organoleptic properties, apart from texture, are adversely affected, resulting in a pasty or gritty taste. It’s at this point the taste attributes of the fiber itself start to come through.”

As a solution to this potential problem, Atchison, Kas.-based MGP Ingredients developed resistant wheat starch, which may be used as a 1:1 replacement for flour in baked foods.

“This resistant starch is white in color, making it an ideal source of ‘invisible’ fiber,” explained Liming Cai, Ph.D., an MGP applications scientist. “It does not detract from the appearance of bakery products, which makes it perfectly suitable for white bread, cake and other flour-based applications.”

Dr. Cai added that the resistant starch’s small particle size imparts a smooth, non-gritty texture in food products and requires little or no formulation changes in terms of water absorption or mixing and baking time.

Essentially, consumers want to have their added-fiber cake, cookies, bread and snacks and eat them, too.

“Consumers want baked foods and snacks with added fiber, but they want them to taste the same as they always have,” observed Kornelija Matkovic, Ph.D., principal scientist and project manager, applications, SunOpta, Edina, Minn. “We work with product developers to find the best way to incorporate fiber into their products to achieve desirable sensory characteristics.”

Courtney Kingery, senior product manager, fibers, Tate & Lyle, Hoffman Estates, Ill., said the company’s soluble corn fiber product enables manufacturers to supplement intrinsic fiber in a variety of applications without negatively impacting consumers’ digestive tolerance or altering the food’s taste, color or texture.

“This soluble corn fiber also has high solubility, low viscosity and stability in low-pH environments,” she said. “It also enables manufacturers to add fiber with a clean label solution.”

With so many varieties and functionalities, how can bakers and snack food manufacturers make sure they are on the right track? Rajen Mehta, Ph.D., senior director, specialty ingredients, Grain Millers, Eugene, Ore., product developers should first map out their goals and objectives in terms of what they want to achieve with fiber formulation.

“Once you have your target clearly defined, articulate it to your suppliers,” Dr. Mehta said. “They can guide you to the proper type of fiber and usage ratios, which will help create a formula to meet your goals.”

While Dr. Mehta concurred that cereal grain fibers are already very compatible with common bakery formulas, he stressed that they could be made even more compatible if manufacturers and their suppliers worked together more closely. He advised bakers that selecting the right fibers, instead of listing three or four sources of fiber, will enable them to list only one or two — a much more label- and consumer-friendly matter.