Dairy foods have a long history of use in baked goods. Butter, for example, is the gold standard fat ingredient in almost all bakery applications, as it delivers desirable flavor, color and structural stability. Unfortunately, economics often limit butter’s use to premium items, such as croissants and shortbread.

Cheese, too, is a welcome ingredient in the baked goods business. There are a wide variety of cheese ingredients available to bakers. Some are all cheese — natural or processed — while others are a blend of cheese with other ingredients that improve melt and manage moisture migration. Cheese ingredients provide flavor and functionality that can be tailored to specific applications.

In some baked goods, bakers are challenged with using standard cheese, cream and even butter, as they’re not always economically or functionally realistic. Formulators often rely on dairy concentrates, flavors and powders in conjunction with “real dairy” to lower costs and improve performance, such as restricted melt, piece identify, less burn off and better flavor.

DFA Ingredient Solutions, a division of Dairy Farmers of America, recently launched an e-commerce store for small bakers and startups to order smaller quantities of dairy ingredients for product innovation. The new platform features dairy-based ingredients, including seasoning blends, specialty powders and concentrated pastes, which were previously only available in large quantities for industrial production. Made from dairy, these ingredients allow for made-from-real-dairy claims. Options are available to assist with achieving clean label declarations, such certified organic, non-GMO and rBST-free.

Other minimally processed dairy ingredients may assist with a range of functionalities in baked goods, including improved browning, flavor, texture and other key bakery applications attributes. Nonfat dried milk is a long-time favorite because it contains both types of dairy proteins — casein and whey — and each type exerts unique functionalities. The casein binds fat and water, while the whey proteins denature during baking, thereby adding to desired crumb texture and post-bake volume. It also contains the reducing sugar lactose, which together with the protein, promotes the Maillard browning reaction when the product is baked.

[Related reading: Bakeries tune into the benefits of dairy and egg ingredients]

Permeate is increasingly being used by bakers as a source of dairy solids. It is a co-product of the production of whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, ultra-filtered milk, milk protein concentrate or milk protein isolate and is typically void of fat and has a minimum of 59% lactose (but sometimes as much as 85%) and a maximum of 10% protein and 27% ash.

Permeate has been shown to contribute to browning because of its high-lactose content. The lactose also helps retain moisture in baked goods. Specifically, the lactose content in dough produces bread that retains its softness for a longer period and extends shelf life. This softness has been attributed to better emulsification of the fat in the formula and the increase in water-holding capacity. This emulsification function also comes through when permeate is added to pie crusts. The permeate helps emulsify the shortening, which allows for a reduction in shortening without sacrificing the tender, flaky texture. 

Permeate contains many varied minerals and non-protein nitrogen compounds, giving it a salty taste. Use may allow for a reduction of sodium chloride in baked goods. In general, 10 to 11 grams of permeate will replace 1 gram of salt. 

When it comes to dairy ingredients, whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate are all the buzz. They are often used in premium baked goods for functionality and protein enrichment. But most important, whey proteins are one of the best sources of branched-chain amino acids, in particular leucine, which has been shown to stimulate muscle synthesis. Specifically, whey protein isolate is about 11% leucine, making it the best source of leucine among all protein ingredients. Some whey protein suppliers have been able to use advanced technologies to further concentrate the leucine content of their ingredients.      

This article is an excerpt from the October 2020 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on dairy and eggs, click here.