Milk … visually, it appears to be one of the simplest foods in today’s complex world, yet it is anything but simple.

As is, milk offers a nutrient powerhouse for humans. Most milk, however, gets converted into dairy foods like cheese, ice cream and yogurt, or its myriad macro and micro components get separated and purified into ingredients, many of which have long been used in the baked goods industry.

These ingredients not only contribute to the physical and sensory qualities of baked goods, they also add nutrition, in particular, protein and calcium. Recent advances in separation technology have resulted in development of new value-added dairy ingredients, enabling on-trend innovations, such as products designed for sports nutrition, weight management and healthful snacking. Let’s explore the evolving dairy ingredients marketplace.

Although milk is simple, dairy ingredients can be quite complex and varied. “It is necessary to understand the components of the specific dairy ingredient to make sure they are used appropriately and not to the detriment of the baking process or final baked goods,” said Pam Gribou, director, R&D and applications, First Choice Ingredients, Germantown, WI.

Bakers traditionally rely on dairy ingredients for their performance in recipes. In fact, high-heat nonfat dry milk (NFDM) is referred to in the baking industry as bakers’ dry milk, noted Jill Rippe, director of R&D, Agropur Ingredients, La Crosse, WI.

As the name suggests, NFDM is fat-free milk dried into a powder. This particular version has been treated with high heat, which denatures the proteins.

“Traditionally used in many baked goods to enhance water binding and prolong shelf life, NFDM also contributes dairy flavor notes, desirable crust browning, enhanced yeast fermentation and improved stability of the batter or dough emulsion to create a premium bakery product,” Ms. Rippe said.

Denaturation of the proteins is paramount. “Unless the proteins undergo expensive high-heat treatment, they can interfere with the rising properties of some baked goods,” said Jessica Henry, marketing manager, Idaho Milk Products, Jerome, ID. “Undenatured whey proteins disrupt gluten’s viscoelastic ability to form stable gas pockets, thereby resulting in a less stable baked structure and a decrease in risen volume after baking.”

Like nonfat milk, most fluid milk products are available in dry format, including whole milk and cream. These commodity dairy ingredients find application in a wide variety of baked goods, with new uses for old favorites always being discovered.

For example, the Food and Drug Administration’s recent revocation of the generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) will require their removal from all foods by 2018. “Our standard-of-identity dry cream powders are premium replacement for PHOs,” said Gerry Buescher, director of new business development at Agropur Ingredients. “They provide excellent functionality and improved flavor and taste, as compared with PHOs.”