Gums and hydrocolloids are key to increasing stability in baked goods.

When it comes to foods like bread, muffins and even cakes, hydrocolloids and gums might be considered unsung heroes. While there are practically too many to name, their uses and applications are quite targeted. Bakers need to know how to ask the appropriate questions while having the precise application in mind. And if they can find just the right combinations — either of gums and/or hydrocolloids or gums and other ingredients — all the better.

“Gums are key components of a formulation used to increase stability, create or modify texture of the finished product, or improve both texture and stability,” said Norman Schute, technical development manager — food, Brenntag North America. Throw in the effect on machineability, controlling moisture and freeze-thaw stability, and it’s a tall order.

“Hydrocolloids are somewhat underutilized in the baking industry,” said Troy Boutte, Ph.D., principal scientist, DuPont Nutrition & Health.

At their most basic function, hydrocolloids bind water. When that happens, they slow the moisture migration by forming a lattice that prevents its movement. The result? Better viscosity, improved texture and a more stable product. Face it: Gums and hydrocolloids keep it together.

Because getting it right depends on a variety of factors, formulators must think strategically before choosing a gum or combination for a specific baking application.