Running a sticky dough calls for thinking outside the box.

Moving a gluten-free product from bench to bakery is complicated. “Gluten free comes with its own set of challenges,” observed Jerome Davis, technical solutions analyst, Innovative Bakery Resources.

High absorption, a consequence of gluten-free formulas, poses the primary difficulty. “Dough sticks madly and is a challenge for industrial production,” said Manuel Hobacher, head, customer demonstration center and master baker, Koenig Bakery Systems.

And the starch that contributes structure in the absence of gluten only adds to the problem. Not only does the baker have to get it through the sheeter, explained Ken Zvoncheck, director, Science & Innovation Center, Reading Bakery Systems, “but also the oven has to bake out all that moisture without making the final product too dark.”

The delicate nature of such doughs challenges the makeup process, according to Dennis Everaers, senior technologist, Rademaker USA. “The right shape is often a matter of minute detail, patience and an open mind,” he said. “Often, a standard solution does not work, and we turn to our experienced team of technologists and engineers to come up with a customized solution.”

Running a sticky dough calls for thinking outside the box. John Giacoio, national sales director, Rheon USA, described using coextrusion equipment in an early test of gluten-free products. “This method was a surprise for us,” he noted. In the decade since gluten-free burst on the scene, such methods have seen much success at the company’s innovation centers and on the market.

Higher consumer expectations now accompany the expanding number of gluten-free products on the market. “We have developed many tools to address challenges such as particulate identity and holes in bread. Formulations can be unique, so the correct tools need to be applied,” said John McIsaac, vice-president, strategic business development, Reiser.

Lessons from the gluten-free world extend to other products, such as Mediterranean white bread with more than 80% water content and rye breads with up to 90% absorption. “These products are very popular because water prolongs the shelf life and flavor, not to mention, the cost savings for bakeries,” Mr. Hobacher noted.