Protein is not just for sports nutrition bars. By adding protein ingredients to baked foods, formulators not only enhance nutritional content but also assist structure and processing performance. The important questions to settle involve the source of the protein, the way it should function in the formula and the nutritional qualities desired in the end product.

“Adding protein is an effective way to boost the valueadded character of products,” said Topher Dohl, applications technologist at MGP Ingredients, Inc., Atchison, KS.

It’s also a good way to assure proper dough structure, strength, moisture content and emulsification. Because of their ability to form films, proteins can encapsulate other ingredients for better control over their delivery or even put a shine on crusts. And non-wheat protein ingredients can unlock gluten-free formulations.

Gluten-free represents an emerging opportunity for protein ingredients. “We have whey ingredients that can simulate the effect of gluten for gluten-free and celiacsafe baking strategies,” said Craig Air, manager, technical services, for Erie Foods International, Inc., Erie, IL.

A different formulating approach combines pea protein with rice flour to give structure to gluten-free baked products, according to Carl Jaundoo, PhD, senior applications specialist, Roquette America, Inc., Keokuk, IA.

Another hot trend in bakery formulating is the double-double product, or “double the fiber and double the protein,” Mr. Dohl explained,“and the extra protein helps carry that extra fiber.”

Protein enjoys good familiarity among consumers, and such awareness is increasing, according to Jean Heggie, marketing director of Solae LLC, St. Louis, MO. Company research conducted during the past year found that consumers most commonly associate protein with satiety, hunger management, sustained energy and muscle-building benefits. The research focussed on protein awareness, specifically with breakfast foods. “We have seen interest in protein-fortified foods across many food segments, and in baking, uses include bars, muffins and breads. Cookies also have great potential,” she said.


“The user needs to ask, ‘What is the purpose for adding protein?’” Mr. Dohl noted. “Is it for a boost in nutrition? How important is flavor? What functions are sought?”

“In bakery products, one of the most important considerations of proteins is their functionality,” Dr. Jaundoo said. “Since the majority of these products incorporate water and fat, two key functional attributes are water binding and emulsification. The choice of protein is then influenced by the degree of functionality of the protein. Other factors that are important include taste, availability and allergenicity.”

When considering applications in baked foods, “adding protein can increase dough strength, thus improving elasticity, extensibility and providing greater uniformity,” Mr. Air said.

Another interesting function of proteins is their ability to form films. This property of wheat gluten enables retention of leavening gases, thus assuring proper rising performance during proofing and baking. Pastry glazes take advantage of the film-forming ability of dairy proteins to increase the crust color and shine of baked foods.

Dairy proteins have recently been used to encapsulate other ingredients for better control in bakery products.

“Powdered fat has been encapsulated to control the release of fat into the bread,” Mr. Air said, “and wheat bran has been encapsulated to reduce the absorption of water. Both have been noted for improving texture.”


Today,the bakery formulator has a wide range of protein additives from which to choose. When measured on a dry basis, the actual protein content ranges from 50% in soy flour, to 70% in concentrates and 90 to 95% in isolates. Concentration and isolation allows tailoring of protein properties. For example, each of the three products in MGP Ingredients’ Arise line of wheat protein isolates provides different elasticity or extensibility characteristics. “Selection depends on the customer’s end use,” Mr. Dohl explained. “For example, if the product is a tortilla or pizza crust and requires the extensibility characteristics, then we recommend the use of Arise 5000, the more extensible form. Arise 6000 is good in hearth breads, and Arise 8000 is more viscoelastic and comparable to vital wheat gluten in its functionality.

“Wheat protein isolates also provide a boost in volume, unlike some other protein sources,” he added.“It disperses more rapidly than most protein additives and has synergy with the gluten naturally present in wheat flour.”

Bakers are also familiar with using soy protein in their formulations. “There are three reasons bakers choose to use soy proteins,” Ms. Heggie said, “for their functional benefits of building texture, improving resil- iency and increasing volume; as an economical alternative to dairy and egg ingredients; and to deliver more protein, thus enhancing the food’s nutritional value.”

Soy proteins can be widely differentiated by their processors, engineered to meet specific formulating needs. “The products intended for bakery use are engineered to work optimally in these applications,” Ms.Heggie said.“Bakers need to understand that soy protein products differ in functional and flavor performance. Bakers should rely on their suppliers to know these differences and assist them in determining the best product fit for the specific application.”

Solae offers both soy protein concentrates and isolates in powdered form that can be used in baked products. Supro soy protein isolate is 90% protein, and Procon soy protein concentrate is 70% protein, on a dry basis. Soy flour is roughly 50% protein. “We also manufacture soy protein crisps, which add protein and crunchy texture, as well as an oatlike texture and appearance in baked products,” Ms. Heggie observed.

Ingredients based on dairy protein find applications in biscuits, breads, cookies, muffins and pastries. “They can impart flavor, aroma and color, emulsification properties (both forming and stabilizing), aid in water binding capacities and improve foam formation,” Mr. Air said. “Other properties include solubility, viscosity, gelation, cohesion, adhesion and elasticity.”

For baking use, Erie Foods International prepares casein, caseinate, milk protein concentrate and a new range of Probakes blends, designed with enhanced bakery functionality. It offers a combination of calcium and sodium caseinate that can be used to fortify baked foods such as bagels and increase the protein content of breakfast cereals, biscuits, breads and cake mixes. Sodium caseinate helps with emulsification to improve the texture of frozen baked cakes and biscuits.

As well as enhanced nutrition, pea proteins provide the functional benefits of emulsification, fat binding and moisture retention, according to Dr. Jaundoo. “The use of pea protein is product specific,” he continued. “For example, in cookies and muffins, one simple substitution is the replacement of some flour with pea protein. In bread, pea proteins, without the elasticity and extensi- bility of gluten, can be used to replace some of the flour to increase the moistness of the crumb without losing taste or texture quality.”


The chief formulating issue with protein is a rise in water absorption. The ability of protein to take up water can help stretch bowl costs by increasing yield, and other benefits can be measured in dough handling and finished product uniformity.

“Generally we recommend adding Arise and water on a 1-to-1 basis,” Mr. Dohl said. “For each additional 1% of protein content, add 1% of water.”

For some products, a denatured dairy protein, or one that has undergone high heat treatment, will better control water absorption, according to Mr. Air. “So care must be taken to select the right proteins for the right applications. Combinations of proteins may be required to achieve the desired texture,” he added, noting that Erie Foods International recently developed Bakery MPC80, which has a reduced absorption capacity and provides better textures in the finished baked foods.

A key benefit of wheat protein isolates is they reduce mixing time. “They also provide extensibility, which is important in dough handling and for assuring uniformity throughout the system,” Mr. Dohl observed. This property is in specific contrast to the viscoelasticity of conventional wheat gluten.

“Take baguettes, for example,” he continued. “When they are stretched out to 16 in. or so, the greater extensibility of the dough helps them retain their shape. These long dough pieces have a tendency to twist. The extensibility fosters a relaxed dough consistency.” This ability especially benefits automated, high-speed, long-run processing lines, such as vertical or serpentine integrated baking lines.

Soy proteins, too, have a tendency to pick up moisture. “So the formulator may have to adjust the liquids in the formula,” Ms. Heggie said. “Whenever you put soy into a formula, you need to keep an eye on flavor, texture and color. Often, soy is displacing flour, egg or dairy in the formula, and adjustments in formulation and process may be needed to ensure optimal results.”

Ms. Heggie also addressed soy’s flavor impact. “The flavor of soy, often described as grain-like and ‘beany,’ is very compatible with grainbased foods,” she said. “You can easily adapt bakery formulations using soy to meet flavor expectations.”

Solae recently filed a patent ap- plication jointly with Novozymes of Copenhagen, Denmark, covering new technology that employs enzymes to improve the taste and solubility of soy proteins. Although still in the development phase, the new method is intended to make it possible for food manufacturers to use higher levels of these proteins in their products.


Because some proteins cause allergic reactions in susceptible individuals, the deliberate addition of protein ingredients to any type of food raises the allergen question. One answer is to keep like with like, choosing protein ingredients from sources already represented in the formula. “With wheat protein isolates, you are adding wheat to wheat,” Mr. Dohl noted. In other words, using a wheat protein isolate in a wheat-flour-based formula does not increase the allergen exposure.

But what about formulating completely without wheat, going glutenfree? “The future for protein supplementation in baked foods will probably place more emphasis on food allergies,” Mr. Air observed.

“With a growing number of individuals concerned about allergens, an important criteria is for the protein to be from a source that is not a major allergen,” Dr. Jaundoo said. “With no reported major allergen, pea protein offers a significant ingredient alternative to bakers.

“In gluten-free products, the replacement of the wheat proteins (gluten) by pea proteins is not a simple substitution because pea proteins do not exhibit extensibility and elasticity,” he cautioned, recommending the pea proteins be combined with rice flour to achieve the desired finished product characteristics.

“Protein supplementation in baked foods is expected to grow, especially in the gluten-free market,” Dr. Jaundoo commented.


Cost savings can also be derived from use of certain protein ingredients. This ability prompted creation of Erie Foods’ Probake range of ingredients and enhancements of the company’s blending capabilities, according to Mr. Air. “Milk proteins as egg replacers also fall into this category with combinations of dairy ingredients providing similar functional benefits,” he added.

“Vegetable proteins, such as soy and pea proteins, are generally more readily available and economical compared with animal proteins,” Dr. Jaundoo observed.