Lemon meringue pie, texture
Starches that do well in low-moisture applications may be needed to hold up the texture in lemon meringue pie.

KANSAS CITY — Consumers still want baked foods with treasured descriptors like moist, crispy, crunchy or chewy, but increasingly they seek more attributes. Think non-bioengineered/non-G.M.O. and a shorter list of ingredients.

The choice of starches may help in reaching all those attributes. Starches also are playing roles in achieving the desired texture in snacks.

Companies may control dough and snack texture through starch selection, said Judy Whaley, Ph.D., vice-president of texturants, new product development at Tate & Lyle, P.L.C. Dough properties affect expansion during baking and the final texture of baked foods, she said. Dough may help in providing a crispy or crunchy texture, or it may expand more for a chewy croissant.

London-based Tate & Lyle in May introduced 17 non-bioengineered/non-G.M.O. starches with the same functionality as their conventional counterparts. Non-G.M.O. product sales in the United States grew by 270% over a three-year period, according to internal research for Tate & Lyle conducted by Information Resources, Inc. in 2017.

Judy Whaley, Ph.D., Tate & Lyle
Judy Whaley, Ph.D., vice-president of texturants, new product development at Tate & Lyle, speaks at a texture event in March in Hoffman Estates, Ill.

X-pand’r NG instant starch, one of the 17 non-G.M.O. starches, provides dough machinability and crispy/crunchy texture in crackers, chips and snacks, according to Tate & Lyle. Dr. Whaley also pointed to the company’s Claria Top-Gel starch, another non-G.M.O. starch that provides instant gelling for improved baking consistency and equal moisture distribution that results in uniformly moist and chewy products. Potential applications for Claria Top-Gel are bakery fillings and baked foods.

Claria Top-Gel does well in low-moisture applications, Dr. Whaley said, and gave pie fillings as an example. Fillings such as lemon meringue have more sugar, which means less water. Claria Top-Gel may help keep in desired texture when a formulation change is made, such as in reducing sugar, calories or the number of ingredients in a product, she said.

Tate & Lyle held a texture event March 14-15 at the company’s innovation center in Hoffman Estates, Ill., that brought in customers of the company as well as people in the academic field. Topics covered included using starch volume to predict texture in foods, controlling dough and snack texture through starch selection, and new techniques to understand starch hydration.

Pie filling texture
Tate & Lyle's Claria Top-Gel does well in low-moisture applications, such as pie fillings.

Tate & Lyle expects to hold similar events in the future. Engaging the industry may lead to more predictable tools and models to reach the desired textures in products, Dr. Whaley said. She added the texture meetings hope to involve three groups of people: those who work with ingredients, those who deal with the processing of ingredients to create products and those who deal with consumer expectations.

“Because it can be an effective way to enhance a food brand’s consumer appeal, texture is gaining the increasing attention of food research and food producers,” Dr. Whaley said. “That’s why we’re dedicated to encouraging collaboration and research that addresses critical gaps and challenges in food and ingredient innovation through textures.”