Bakers have many choices when working with protein-supplemented formulations. Each has its own benefits, but proteins isolated from milk and whey enjoy a special relationship with bakery products, according to two experts from Agropur Ingredients, La Crosse, WI. Phil Blanchard, bakery division manager, and Terese O’Neill, new business development, talk to Baking & Snack in this exclusive Q&A.

Baking & Snack: What type of protein (bean, dairy, microalgae, soy, wheat, etc.) does your company provide for bakery applications?

Phil Blanchard: As a business unit of Agropur Dairy Cooperative we are primarily a manufacturer and distributor of dairy proteins such as Iso Chill 9000 (Whey Protein Isolate 90) and Iso Chill 8000 (Whey Protein Concentrate 80). Because of our ingredient distribution network and involvement with the beverage, sports nutrition and frozen dessert sectors, we also are able to provide alternative proteins such as soy, pea, rice, wheat, almond or quinoa.

Why is this advantageous in baked foods?

Mr. Blanchard: The Dairy Research Institute recently reported: “Whey protein consumption results in a more rapid and enhanced essential amino acid presence in the blood. [It is] high in branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), especially leucine, which acts as a signaling molecule to regulate mRNA translation, ‘turning on’ protein synthesis. Whey protein helps promote muscle repair and recovery and can help build more lean muscle after exercise. Whey proteins are bio-available, easily digested and absorbed by the body. Dairy derived proteins as well as other varieties of proteins have shown good success in increasing satiety, thereby helping to control caloric consumption.”

There are functional characteristics that baked goods can attribute to the incorporation of dairy proteins. For instance, functional whey proteins can provide structure, impart shelf-life extension properties, contribute richness in flavor and help boost post-bake volumes.

Sometimes, the incorporation may be more about resolving another issue, such as egg or egg white replacement, rather than boosting protein levels.

Whey protein is also a consumer-friendly label addition. When looking to provide a cleaner label — whey protein is considered wholesome and easily comprehensible label component.

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

Terese ONeill: Bakery projects, such as these, are all fairly unique in terms of requirements in structure, protein enhancement, replacement factors, target audience, price points and labeling. As a protein manufacturer, supplier and food formulation consultant to our clients, first and foremost, we need a good grasp on what their overall objectives are.

For instance, if we knew a client was looking to enhance protein levels in a bread-type application but was encountering issues with astringency, we would be able to 1) analyze the ingredient interactions, 2) identify the appropriate amount of protein incorporation and 3) find a system that works well with the full-formulation such as FlavoGen Tastant Technology, which helps to round off those off-notes in higher-protein foods.

A baked goods manufacturer needs to understand the needs of their consumer base. If younger adults should consume 20 g per meal and older individuals about 30 g, as noted by the Dairy Research Institute, a manufacturer will need to break down what percentage of an average meal their product will be and how much of the recommended protein intake they are aiming to impart to that meal. Other important factors may be flavor, cost, certifications, such as organic or kosher, and trend appeal.

What production considerations must the formulator and the baker take into account when boosting the protein levels in foods?

Mr. Blanchard: Once all high-priority targets are established and proteins levels are absolute, then we need to dig into the formulation and production process with the client. In baked goods, the overlying message will be to create a harmony between the percentages of solids versus hydration sources.

Method, cook time, and bake temperature will all also need to be taken into consideration.

Formulators shouldn’t be intimidated with protein incorporation; there is a science to it, and a little product will take a formulation a long way.