In the commercial food world, starches help baked goods on every front. They help dough and batter adapt to processing equipment. They improve texture and mouthfeel of a finished product. They even keep working well after a baked good has left the bakery and is sitting on a supermarket shelf or in a consumer’s pantry.
“Modified starches solve a host of food processing dilemmas,” said Michelle Kozora, technical service manager, Cargill. “They can survive heat, acid and shear in processing. They have been modified to sustain the freezing and thawing that frozen products must endure. They also have been tailor-made for use in specific applications.”
Modified starches have been chemically or enzymatically changed. This blanket category includes resistant, cook-up and instant starches. The most common modifications are crosslinking, substitution and thinning, each granting the starch super powers to help a baked good in the production process. Through crosslinking, a starch can survive heat, acid and shear conditions. Substitution allows starches to bind more water for freeze/thaw stability, or it can bind to a fat and the starch functions as an emulsifier. Thinning can create maltodextrins and corn syrup solids.
Native starches, on the other hand, have endured no modifications.
“Obtained from sources like corn, wheat, rice, tapioca, cassava and potato, native starches are basically pure forms of starch,” Ms. Kozora said.
These starches are insoluble in cold water and swell to different degrees based on their type and the temperature. Despite the functional limitations of native starches, formulators anticipate it’s only a matter of time before the clean label trend catches up. Ingredient suppliers are working to improve the functionality of native starches so they have solutions available when bakers are ready to clean up their labels.
With so many options for starches it can be difficult to know which one will work best in a formula. Understanding the many functions of starches can solve several processing challenges.
“It ultimately depends on the application and the end product they’re trying to achieve,” said Carter Foss, technical service director, American Key Food Products.
Bakers need to consider the type of mixing, heat, sheeting and freezing their product goes through. All those processes have an impact on the batter or dough. Choose the right starch, and it will respond beautifully and protect the end product while the wrong starch will wilt right on the line.
“End textures, processing, pH and freeze/thaw are all important things suppliers need to know to be able to help,” Ms. Kozora said.
Instant vs. cook-up starch is also a key consideration. Most bakery applications require an instant starch, one that develops the proper amount of viscosity with just the addition of water such as in cake, muffin and donut batters.
“However, in the bakery industry, oftentimes, it’s related to the specific functionality,” said Ody Maningat, Ph.D., vice-president, R.&D. and chief science officer, MGP Ingredients. “For example, if the objective is to adjust the strength of a strong flour, they would probably need a Midsol cook-up starch to decrease the protein content, thereby reducing the strength of the flour.”
Another thing to weigh is the ingredient statement. Clean label is a persistent trend. To soothe consumers’ worries about artificial ingredients, bakers are switching to more recognizable ingredients, even as far as those that consumers may find in their own pantries. Non-GMO and organic ingredients top the list for many consumers and a growing number of bakeries. This could impact starch options.