Soy ingredients find application in baked foods because they provide emulsification, water binding, texture enhancement and increased protein … and they are low in cost, with cleaner labels, than other functional ingredients. Jon Stratford, sales and marketing manager, Natural Products, Inc., Grinnell, IA, describes full-fat and low-fat soy ingredients in this exclusive Baking & Snack Q&A.

Baking & Snack: What type of protein does your company provide for bakery applications?

Jon Stratford: Natural Products, Inc. (NPI) manufactures a complete line of minimally processed full-fat soy ingredients made from non-GMO and organic soybeans. Our products contain about the same ratio of protein (40%) and fat (24%) as whole unprocessed soybeans. We also offer low-fat soy flour, which has had approximately 65% of the oil mechanically expelled from the soy, raising the protein to approximately 50% and reducing the fat to about 9%.

At less than $0.02 per unit of protein, full-fat and low-fat soy are two of the lowest cost proteins available to food makers.

Why is this advantageous in baked foods?

Full-fat and low-fat soy ingredients provide a variety of functional properties in baked goods, including emulsification, water binding, texture enhancement and increasing protein, usually at a lower cost and a cleaner label than other ingredients providing the same functionality. A common usage of raw (enzyme-active) full-fat soy flour is in white breads as a bleaching aid and dough conditioner at 0.5% (wheat flour basis).

Roasted full-fat soy flour is commonly used in cake donuts to reduce oil uptake during frying. It can also be used as a clean label emulsifier in sweet baked goods at a level of 1 to 3% (wheat flour basis).

The combination of protein and oil in full-fat soy give it strong water-binding properties, so when it is used in a bread, for example, it can actually increase yield. The rule of thumb is, for every pound of soy flour added to the dough, add a pound of water. In a 100-lb batch of dough, that could amount to three to five extra loaves, without a significant increase in water activity or loss of volume.

Because it is higher in protein, low-fat soy flour (or meal) can be used in snacks and bars to increase protein content and reach the FDA “heart healthy” claim of 6.25 g soy protein per serving. Low-fat soy meal or flour are a cleaner label and low-cost alternative to soy protein concentrates or isolates.

What factors should the bakery formulator consider to make the best use of your ingredients?

If a specific protein-related functionality is desired (emulsification, water binding, etc.), that functionality will typically be achieved with a full-fat soy ingredient at levels at or below 3.0% wheat flour basis. That level of inclusion will not result in a meaningful increase in protein in the finished product, but it will deliver the desired functionality and might even reduce the overall cost of the formula, considering that other more expensive proteins (eggs or milk) or fats (lecithin) might be able to be reduced.

If the goal is to maximize protein in order to make a claim on a label, care must be taken to choose the right combination of proteins to achieve the goals. Rarely can a full-fat soy ingredient be used alone to make a protein claim, because of the difficulties associated with adding more than 4 or 5% in any formula. But it can be used in conjunction with other plant proteins to make high-quality baked goods that contain desirable levels of protein.