When it comes to bakery mixes, one size may not fit all. Some bakers may find it useful to source basic mixes, allowing the flexibility to add flavorful ingredients for customization and creativity. In a muffin mix, for example, the baker can add different fruits, nuts or even confections — think chocolate chunks and caramel bits — to the same mix to create limited-edition or seasonal products.

“Choosing basic mixes may work in a baker’s favor,” said Nicole Rees, product director, AB Mauri North America. “You can use the same Italian bread mix for ciabatta rolls and subs.”

On the opposite side of the spectrum, highly specialized mixes enable bakeries — even a small mom-and-pop shop — to offer a greater variety of products without having to maintain a large inventory of ingredients. This includes products designed for specialty diets, such as no-added-sugar, low-sodium and egg-free.

Rietmann America, for example, markets a protein bread mix that the baker prepares with yeast and water. The baked bread is low in carbohydrates (4.2%) and high in protein (26.5%). The mix contains a protein blend based on soy, lupine and wheat. It also includes linseed, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds, which provide some protein and fiber as well as wheat bran and apple fibers, yielding a baked bread that is 14% fiber. The seeds are also a source of omega-3 fatty acids.

“Food ingredient companies are innovative and progressive with options for various health deliverables,” said Anita Srivastava, senior product development manager, bakery applications, Kemin. “Specialty mixes provide significant advantages as they do not have to create inventory of these specialized ingredients. Further, many of them are quite expensive when purchased in small quantities.”

Mix suppliers buy in bulk and can pass that cost savings onto the baker. These companies can also provide technical support and expertise with specialty ingredients. Every customer they work with and troubleshoot issues with adds knowledge to share with other customers.

Adding nutrients to baked foods increases costs; therefore, it is paramount that only the right nutrients in the most effective form be added to the formulation. Excess and waste must be carefully controlled to manage costs.

“Differences in particle size may cause incomplete blending or segregation of nutrients,” said Mel Mann, director of innovation, Wixon. “Minerals such as calcium may disrupt (gas leavening) during baking, resulting in lower rise.”

Mixes and bases may include a nutrient premix or a separate pack for addition at time of production. This helps protect fragile vitamins and prevent mineral interactions.

“In general, vitamins are more sensitive to stress factors that occur during the processing of bakery products,” said Annette Bueter, product developer, SternVitamin. “This means vitamins can lose some activity. Losses in activity can be compensated by adding overages, which means we are adding higher vitamin levels than what is required on the label of the final product. Minerals are less sensitive than vitamins, but they can have an impact on the sensory properties of the baked foods.

“Encapsulated forms of ingredients delay or prevent interactions. In the end, it all depends on the levels and the combinations of micronutrients in the final product.”

Carefully crafted mixes assist with these efforts. Addition levels of vitamins and minerals are often very low. Measuring each one out separately presents a lot of room for human error.

“Vitamin and mineral premixes may be more convenient to handle than individual concentrated forms,” said Jasmine Monette, professional nutritionist and technical support manager, Lallemand Baking Solutions. “In the premixes, the level of vitamins and minerals are pre-portioned according to the ratio of daily nutrient requirement. This helps to prevent a nutrient imbalance.”

Managing these interactions requires knowledge about these ingredients and the formulation.

“We recommend that you work closely with your mix partner to plan and troubleshoot in the beginning stages of research and development so that once you put your mixes to use, they perform to your expectations time and time again,” said Don Trouba, senior director, go-to-market, The Annex by Ardent Mills.

This article is an excerpt from the August 2019 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on mixes and bases, click here.