Although cereal grain fibers suit bakery formulas quite well, one size doesn’t fit all. As added fiber ingredients, they are commonly used in cereals, snacks, cookies, buns and cakes. Formulating with them, however, may be a bit tricky because each type brings its own characteristics and fiber content to the mix.

In the grain group, barley, wheat and rye offer the highest fiber content, ranging from approximately 11% for wheat to 17% for barley. The fiber content range of corn and sorghum is 6% to 9%, while whole grain rice has a 3% to 4% fiber content level.

Depending on the amount and type of fiber that will be used, it’s possible that bakers will need to adjust their formulas.

“When formulating with whole grain flours, proper absorption and hydration is critical because of the effect fiber can have,” said Elizabeth Arndt, Ph.D., director of R.&D., Ardent Mills, Omaha, NE. “Different whole grains vary in their level and rate of absorption. One of the common problems we see in making whole grain and multigrain dough is the failure to add enough water.”

She also emphasized the importance of monitoring mix time because whole grain and multigrain doughs typically require less time in the mixer than refined wheat flour dough.

When selecting a cereal grain fiber, product developers must also factor in what functionality they want to achieve with the final product. This ensures they choose the appropriate fiber for their applications.

“Different options will vary on the level of refinement, fiber content and fiber length as well as their oil and water absorption capabilities,” noted Aida Prenzno, director of technology at Tucson, Ariz.-based Gum Technology, a business unit of Penford Food Ingredients.

Ms. Prenzno cited oat fibers as an example.

“They are available in a variety of choices,” she said. “If you choose an oat fiber with high water absorption, you may need to adjust your formula.”

In addition to altering water-holding capacities, cereal grain fibers also may affect dough structure.

“Fiber ingredients compete with bread flour for water absorption and interfere with gluten’s role in structuring and gas retention, causing a reduced loaf volume and a tacky crumb texture,” said Jie Hu, senior research scientist, Horizon Milling, Wayzata, MN. “We suggest adding more water to compensate along with vital wheat gluten for volume re-building.”

The size of the fiber particles affects dough structure, too. Cereal grain fibers are a natural part of grains, and they reside in the bran and germ parts of the seeds.

Michael Weibel, vice-president, R.&D., Watson, Inc., West Haven, Conn., said bran particles are sharp and can wreak havoc during processing.

“The sharp particles affect the leavening process because they penetrate the gas bubbles,” he explained. “When that happens, the dough collapses. That’s why whole wheat products are denser. However, we are seeing improvement in this area because particles are being ground finer, making them easier to work with.”