Keep an eye on overall sodium content when seeking to adjust it downward in bakery formulations, advised EB Russell, innovation manager, AB Mauri, Chesterfield, MO, in an exclusive Q&A with Baking & Snack. Yes, chemical leavening ingredients contain sodium, but so do other ingredients. She also gave practical recommendations for using new low- and no-sodium chemical leaveners.

Baking & Snack: How have the chemical leavening agents supplied by AB Mauri for bakery use changed during the past five years?

EB Russell: A focus upon health and wellness has emerged. While consumers are looking more to healthy food options, they still want the indulgences available. Consumers are more and more aware of the healthier options within those indulgences. Take, for instance, a cake: Consumers now would like to see a cleaner label with organic type products and healthier add-ons.

In this health arena, AB Mauri has focused on helping our customers reduce the overall sodium in a product while still keeping costs in line. We also work to make sure the technical application of the baking powder is usable for the specific application. A healthier tortilla with a reduction in sodium is going to require a different leavening system than a healthier muffin with a reduction in sodium. But for all bakers, price and technical application are important. And keeping things as close to the same so the product works in the same system is paramount.

AB Mauri has a low-sodium option and a no-sodium option available to meet the needs of our customer. With a focus on the dough rate of reaction, we can formulate a match to replicate the gassing action our customer needs.

What do bakery formulators need to know about putting these agents to work today?

The customer needs to know that we understand their concerns about adding a reduced-sodium or sodium-free product into a system. We realize there are several products out there, but we work a customer technically to ensure that the release of gas matches as closely as possible to their current system, paying close attention to their processing methods (temperatures, mix times, floor times), rework and the other ingredients that impact the leavening system.

The baker also needs to realize that while you are reducing sodium, you can get the additional benefits of adding other ingredients with calcium and potassium. At AB Mauri, we work closely with our customers so that they understand the overall impact, nutritionally and rheologically, on their finished product.

AB Mauri realizes that there is not a “one size fits all” solution when it comes to chemical leavening based systems and that working hand in hand with the baker is the only way to provide new, innovative products that meet consumers’ demands.

Editor’s note: AB Mauri offers a full menu of bicarbonates, leaving acids and baking powders. It included leavening options in the Suprimo Tortilla System it introduced at the 2013 International Baking Industry Exposition. A full report about this new “dial up” and “dial down” approach to formulating wheat flour tortillas appears in the December 2013 issue of Baking & Snack.