When it comes to gluten-free foods, there’s no “one size fits all” solution for problems with cohesiveness, consistency and stability. However, as Harold Nicoll, marketing manager of TIC Gums, White Marsh, MD, notes in this exclusive Q&A, the right combination can be found to meet specific product needs. He also reports how formulators can extend expensive guar with lower-cost hydrocolloids.

Baking & Snack: How are your gums and hydrocolloids typically used in bakery formulations? Are there any out-of-the-ordinary applications that bakers should consider?

Harold Nicoll: There are many variables to consider when engineering texture into bakery applications. One area of interest we have talked about lately is gluten-free bread. In gluten-free formulas, gums can mimic some of the functions of gluten in bakery applications. Viscoelastic gums like xanthan can replace strength and elasticity lost when formulating without gluten. Additionally, xanthan gum traps air produced during fermentation and baking bread. The trapped air helps give the bread its form and is part of the support structure. Gums also help replace cohesiveness and flexibility of dough that is lost when formulating without gluten. This is important with products like pie dough and biscuits. Gums will help keep the formulation from just falling apart.

Other bakery goods can also benefit from gums in their gluten-free versions. Combinations of konjac and xanthan or locust bean gum are able to produce viscoelastic gels which are useful in replacing some of the strength that gluten typically provides as bakery products set. Sodium alginate forms thermally irreversible gels with calcium and is used in gluten and gluten free bakery applications.

Gums can also be added to extruded, gluten-free products like pasta or cereal to improve cohesiveness, consistency and stability. In any gluten-free food application, there is “no one size fits all” solution. Gum selection should be based on the type of finished product and the functionality needed. Xanthan has been used a great deal, but scientists from TIC Gums find that combinations of texture agents will yield the needed outcome.

What should a formulator know about these materials and their usage levels? Are there limits to their use? How must they be labeled in the ingredient listing on packages?

Usage levels are measured based on 100 lb flour (bakers percent). Typically, the amount of texture modifiers are small, but there is no “one size fits all” answer. As far as limits, there are some. Overuse of gums will literally weigh a product down. In instances where this happens, add water to counteract the gums.

Looking specifically at guar, presently in very tight supply, what do you advise bakers seeking an alternative to this gum?

Yes, we have a replacement and some extenders. We are introducing a replacement for guar gum in bakery products. Ticaloid GR 5420 is the most cost-effective alternative to guar gum. This product is a 100% replacement of guar gum in bakery mixes (bagel, breads, cakes, muffins, etc.). Over the course of the product shelf life, key attributes like moisture retention and crumb structure remain. Ticaloid GR 5420 also provides equivalent batter viscosity and dough texture. Typical usage level is 2 to 5 oz per 100 lb flour. With much of the guar replaced by other gums, Ticaloid Lite Powder provides excellent moisture retention in baked goods with a desirable crumb texture. It was developed and extensively tested for high-fiber breads used at 1 to 2% (flour weight basis) depending on gluten level. Ticaloid 451 "T" Powder is an all-natural blend of hydrocolloids (containing some guar) recommended particularly for cakes, breads and similar bakery products to improve texture and mouthfeel and to increase volume as well as retain moisture.

On Oct. 18, 2011, TIC Gums formally announced the introduction of Ticaloid GR 5420, a blend of gums that completely replace guar in bakery products like cake, bread, bagels, and muffins. Containing no guar gum, this proprietary blend will deliver the same texture benefits that guar gum alone does, but without the threat of supply interruptions or price instability. The new technology was designed and tested at the Texture Innovation Center™ located in White Marsh, MD. White Marsh is located north of Baltimore, MD. Additional details are available at www.ticgums.com.

What gums and hydrocolloid ingredients does TIC Gums offer for bakery and snack applications?

There are numerous gums and blends of gums that can be used in the bakery industry. Since TIC Gums is not really a “gum supplier,” we are not limited in the types of texture agents we can use to engineer texture and/or stability into baked goods. Instead, we start with the textural outcome the customer wants and engineer a solution for that particular formulation. Because there are so many options in the selection of ingredients from flour source to the starches and gums, it is important to be aware of the interactions that may occur in your particular formula.