Weighing options

Both ready-made baking powder and customized leavening have their ups and downs, and it’s ultimately up to the baker to decide which will serve the product best.

The hallmark of baking powders is that they are easy to use.

“Baking powders are formulated to deliver the complete release of carbon dioxide in a balanced system,” said Mary Thomas, senior research and development manager, Delavau Bakery Partners by Lesaffre. “A baking powder is one ingredient that a bakery needs to manage from raw material ordering to ease-of-scaling at the bowl.”

As a result, baking powders allow bakers to save time, money and potential mistakes.

They also take the burden of formulating off the baker.

“Baking powders can be developed for specific applications, which can make selection and evaluation easier,” Dr. Book said. “The optimum proportions of acid and base are already calculated. The formulator doesn’t need to understand the details of the math involved in working with leavening ingredients.”

When using a customized chemical leavening system, a bakery needs to be equipped with people who understand how to balance the formula with those two-or-more ingredients.

Because of their ease-of-use, ready-made solutions can be the right decision.

“Prepared baking powders make it easier to ensure consistency with less hassle and waste,” said Jabin Olds, senior scientist, bread, rolls and bakery applications, Corbion. “And they require less inventory overall, making them ideal for smaller bakeries or those who are looking to minimize their overhead costs.”

While a general baking powder may be the correct choice for standard muffins, cakes and smaller bakeries, there are products, however, that require a custom-made system rather than an off-the-shelf baking powder.

“If a baker needs a more targeted timing of CO2 release, they will select individual components to give them the desired gas release profile,” Ms. Thomas said.

By choosing individual components, bakers can speed up that reaction or slow it down.

“Finished product attributes such as flavor, pH and color can also be adjusted with the choice of leavening acid and base,” she said.

Amr Shaheed, food tech service and development manager, Innophos, explained it this way: A baking powder is designed for general use, much like the car that might serve well on the commute to work. A car that is perfectly fine for a drive to the office, however, may not serve well driving into the mountains.

“You might need an SUV because you’re going to need more horsepower or specific components,” he said. “A more specific or customized solution is essential to specific types of texture, process and product types. What you use for refrigerated dough is different than a shelf-stable product and different from dry mixes.”

Custom systems can also give bakers the flexibility they need to work with a variety of ingredients and products.

“The use of alternative ingredients or formulations for specific populations may introduce challenges that require a tailored leavening system,” said Robert Berube, technical service manager, Church & Dwight Co. “If there is a great variety of products being baked, the flexibility to customize leavening systems internally might make sense.”

Working with individual components of a chemical leavening system — a source of carbon dioxide and a food-grade acid capable of creating the gas — requires an understanding of those components and the desired outcome. These components will not only have an impact on the rise of the finished product but also flavor, color, texture, shelf life and sodium content. It’s important that bakers fully comprehend what they are looking for and how to achieve a balanced formula. A knowledgeable ingredient supplier can assist in balancing the variables.

“We work with our customers to custom design the two components or even one component, so when it reacts with the soda it gives a specific rate of reaction and neutralizing value,” Mr. Shaheed said.

While workhorse ingredients like baking powder aren’t going away, Paul Bright, innovation manager, AB Mauri North America, predicted more custom blends will be requested as applications become more specific.

“From tortillas or frozen dough, you can make a leavening system that really fits whatever the criteria are for your end consumer,” he said. “There are certain things we can do to help bakers achieve their desired final characteristics, whether it be lighter color or even a fluffier tortilla.”

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