Flatbreads premium artisan attributes have prompted food service establishments from Michelin-starred restaurants to quick-service chains to incorporate a wide variety of these classic products into their breakfast, lunch and dinner meals throughout the day.

“Flatbreads are an option for restaurants to boost ‘the good old bread basket,’” said Richard Breeswine, president and chief executive officer of Koenig Bakery Systems.

“Because of their shareability and versatility, flatbreads offer many options,” he added. “For this reason, restaurants, bakeries and grocery stores across the country increasingly stock up their flatbread shelves. Many different cultures have types of flatbread, which is why it can be combined in endless ways from pizza bases, wraps, tortillas. Bakers create new products with oven-baked toppings such as sweet potatoes, lamb sausage, mint, pine nuts and more.”

However, a bevy of technical challenges emerge as bakers create innovative flatbreads for a host of menu applications.

“What we are seeing are these products being extended into the quick-serve category of restaurants, so the products’ ability to withstand wrapping around a filling and not breaking or cracking is of great importance to our customers,” said Nick Magistrelli, vice-president of sales, Rademaker USA. “This becomes even more of an issue with trends toward a cleaner label without additives that made.”

Fortunately, bakers have a bevy of alternatives. Rheon, for example, introduced a filled naan years ago by using co-extrusion, which many bakers might consider a less-than-conventional method for making filled flatbreads.

“We were able to wrap naan dough around a curry paste, then flatten the product to make it look more traditional,” said John Giacoio, vice-president of sales at Rheon USA.

Laminating technology also creates the additional strength for a flatbread to hold up to wrapping around a filling.

“Simply creating the layers of dough will result in a product that will not crack and break when wrapped or folded,” Mr. Magistrelli pointed out.

When producing flatbreads, restaurants and bakers are finding new ways to take the category to new heights while remaining true to their cultural heritage. For consumers across the globe, flatbreads provide a visceral way for people to connect after a busy day or during special occasions.

“When you think of flatbreads, you think of ripping apart bread to share with friends and family,” Mr. Giacoio said. “It is just like the term ‘breaking bread.’ Flatbreads are perfect for dipping, scooping and wrapping. Bakers are also looking for different shapes and sizes.”

And they’re searching for new ways to add a twist to the original Old World product.

This article is an excerpt from the October 2019 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on flatbread technology, click here.