Starch enhances a batter’s viscosity, which improves not only depositing but also texture and mouthfeel in finished products.
Optimizing functionality

Starches provide thickening, texturizing and stabilizing power as well as moisture retention, gelling, film forming, dusting and dough binding to baked goods.

“Wheat starches provide many benefits, both in processing and finished product quality,” said Brook Carson, vice-president of product development and marketing, Manildra USA. “In processing, wheat starches can be used to provide consistency to key parameters such as viscosity. When used as a texturant, it can help to improve shelf life and mouthfeel.”

This is the theme with most starches: They have an uncanny ability to bolster the texture, quality, taste, shelf life and structure of a baked good from the moment they’re included in the formulation to the time the product is consumed. This level of functionality has made modified starches invaluable for many baked goods, including cakes, muffins, cookies and even fillings, and set the bar high for native-starch clean label alternatives.

“Modified starches are really popular because of the benefits they impart, whether it’s adding fiber, lowering calories, moisture retention and so on,” Dr. Maningat said. “While we haven’t observed any deterioration in demand for modified starches, principally because of the many outstanding functional benefits they provide, we are seeing a rise in the popularity of non-G.M.O. sources of starches and the desire for clean label.”

All of MGP Ingredients’ wheat starches — Fibersym, Midsol and Pregel — are Non-GMO Project verified. The company’s starch portfolio includes some clean label solutions as well.

On the production line, starches improve the viscosity of batters.

“They need a certain thickness or viscosity to deposit into a pan so there’s no tailing or sloshing as products move toward the oven,” Ms. Kozora said.

Starches can help bind batters and provide the level of viscosity bakers are looking for.

For baked snacks, three of Ingredion’s texturizers can improve sheeting and expansion as the product moves through the line. These texturizers are made from modified tapioca or sago and corn starch and improve dough cohesiveness and sheetability, which lead to a hard, crunchy texture and reduced breakage in the finished product.

Once in the oven, the starch continues to work, gelatinizing under the heat and contributing to the finished product’s texture.

“How the starch works with the other components in that bakery system could determine how a cake, muffin or similar bakery item appears in the finished application — whether there’s too much of a dome or it’s flat,” Ms. Kozora continued. In fillings, starch prevents that filling from boiling and seeping out in the oven.

One of the most useful functions that starches serve is their water-binding capability. This impacts several aspects of a baked good. At the most basic level, water-binding improves the product’s final texture and mouthfeel. Not only that, but starch’s water-binding ability also helps baked goods retain those positive characteristics longer.

“Over time that bakery product can lose moisture because packaging isn’t vapor proof,” Ms. Kozora explained. “So you have the ability to keep that product on the shelf for six months, and it will still have good moist mouthfeel and a tender bite.”

This water-binding ability also makes starches extremely useful in frozen bakery applications. The same principle that helps prevent staling also provides stability as the baked good is frozen and then later thawed.

Modified starches can also be customized to specific applications’ needs. For example, Cargill can modify its cold water-swelling starches to be high water holding starches for improved batter viscosity and moist textures.

“There are many ways to modify starch, and many great benefits that come from these modifications,” Ms. Kozora said.