Enzymes perform highly specific tasks. Scientists sort them by their functions and so do bakers.

“The most commonly used baking enzymes are amylases, proteases, xylanases and lipases,” explained Jan van Eijk, research director, baking ingredients, Lallemand, Montreal.

Amylases modify starch to assist with crust color, loaf volume, crumb softness and shelf life extension.

Proteases act on proteins to enable dough relaxation and mix-time reduction.

Xylanases, also known as hemicullases and pentosanases, improve loaf volume and crumb structure.

Lipases affect lipids and can functionally replace chemically derived emulsifiers.

Individual members of these classes can vary widely in their actions, but Mr. van Eijk explained, “Most commercial enzymes are produced from microorganisms and standardized for specific activities.”