“Heat processing preserves the all-natural integrity of the grain while eliminating the need for a pre-soak or cook step,” Ms. Giebel said. Heating deactivates enzymes in the grains to eliminate any interference with the dough matrix. Heating also develops the finished flavor of the grains, removing raw notes, which would otherwise detract from their use as toppings.
“The grains have a soft bite but hold up during processing to deliver visually appealing particle identity,” she said. The company processes several types of grains into varying thicknesses and grind profiles as well as multigrain and custom blends to meet needs of a range of products from rustic crusty breads to thin crisp crackers.
Bakers can also include a variety of seeds with such grain toppings. Common seeds include poppy, sesame and sunflower. Increasingly more popular are flax and soy. While sesame seeds stick naturally to moist dough surfaces, other grains, seeds and particulates may require an adhesive to keep them in place. Bakers have long turned to egg whites for this function.
“It is the proteins in egg products — specifically in the whites — that assist with adhesion,” explained Elisa Maloberti, director of egg product marketing, American Egg Board. Heat or exposure to acid causes proteins to coagulate, changing the egg product from a liquid to a semisolid or solid. By solidifying, the proteins function as an adhesive to glue ingredients or food components to one another.
“For example, an egg wash, which is slightly beaten egg whites with some water, can be brushed onto the surface of baked foods,” Ms. Maloberti added. “This sticky solution helps topically applied nuts and seeds adhere to the surface during baking.”