Troy Boutte first became interested in exercise and nutrition in high school, after his parents died at a young age of cardiovascular disease. He eventually majored in dietetics and went on to earn a master’s degree in human nutrition, where his primary research involved the effects of fish oil on indicators of cardiovascular health.

Originally from Louisiana where cooking and food are central to the culture, Mr. Boutte’s interest in nutrition and food lead him to pursue food science for his doctoral studies. True to his original purpose, he researched the development of fat substitutes, and upon graduation, he took a job as an analytical chemist with Caravan Products, New Jersey.

From there, Mr. Boutte learned to bake and formulate, which he said he loved because it piqued his interest on many levels. After 12 years serving as senior scientist and director of bakery and emulsifier ingredients, he spent 8 years at Dupont Danisco as principal scientist and group manager for the bakery, sales, and application group.

“The artistic aspects of a beautiful loaf of bread, the efficient process used to make it, the nutritional properties and the technical details of how enzymes, antimicrobials, emulsifiers and other ingredients improve baked goods are fascinating,” he said.

Today, Mr. Boutte is the vice president of innovation at AB Mauri North America, where he oversees the development and implementation of new products, as well as leads the baking ingredient innovation team.

“Along the way, I learned something very important about myself,” he said. “I thought I would only be happy if I was working on fats, oils and lipids, but it turns out that what I really enjoy are the learning and problem-solving processes.”

What are some common misconceptions around reformulating for clean label?

While many bakeries have already shifted some products’ brands to clean label formats, a major misconception is that conversion to clean label will result in reduced costs.

Looking back at the long history of bakery ingredient development, we find that many solutions were developed more than 50 years ago. Many of the ingredients we are trying to remove today were developed in the 1940s to 1960s. This means that manufacturers have had decades to improve the chemistry, application and manufacturing efficiency of these items. Even bakeries and equipment manufacturers have developed processes and formulations over the years around these additives. Collectively, these factors have resulted in formulations that are robust, predictable and even low cost.

Today’s new clean label dough conditioners rely almost entirely on enzymes. While some bakery enzymes were developed decades ago, it is still somewhat of a developing field. However, there is no reason to believe that enzyme-only solutions will always provide the same performance as more traditional ingredients. While switching to clean label may appear to offer cost savings initially, a possible loss in production efficiency and the added costs of gluten may negate any cost savings. Today’s smart and label-conscious consumers are willing to pay a premium for clean label products.

What are some common pitfalls bakers should avoid when reformulating for clean label?

For years, formulators thought they were successful because they were able to make highly stable doughs using a wide range of ingredients. In retrospect, if you were using potassium bromate, DATEM, SSL, azodicarbonamide, calcium peroxide, ascorbic acid or other similar ingredients, you expected to have strong results. 

Today, we are far more limited when formulating for clean label. Early in my career I was taught to maximize the use of dough strengthening ingredients and only add vital wheat gluten if more strength was needed. This approach reduced costs. Now, I believe bakeries rely heavily on enzyme technology. If not done correctly —without appropriate training —there could likely be a negative outcome.

There are other solutions available, such as lecithin when used in conjunction with phospholipase-containing enzyme systems, that ensure dough stability and crumb softness and reduce the risk of enzyme overdosing. Building a robust total system will provide better performance and make the transition to clean label that much better.

What are some of the most challenging functionalities to replace, and how do you use your expertise to find the solution?

Traditional dough conditioning systems have been so good because they deliver multiple ways to do the same thing. Achieving the correct level of oxidation to cross link and strengthen the gluten network in dough is crucial for conditioning, but this is often misunderstood and difficult to study. With older dough conditioners we were able to combine potassium bromate or iodate, azodicarbonamide, ascorbic acid and even calcium peroxide to provide different capabilities. Proper combinations of these resulted in very strong but flexible protein structures, resulting in maximum gas retention with optimal expansion properties. 

Today’s enzyme systems effectively rely on glucose oxidase, which results in the formation of small amounts of hydrogen peroxide. Chemically speaking, it would be similar to calcium peroxide, which is more of a dough drying agent than it is an oxidant. Combining hydrogen peroxide with ascorbic acid ultimately gives a much better oxidizing effect. However, today we do the best we can using combinations of glucose oxidase and ascorbic acid as we look to gain strength and stability in other ways.

Another challenging area is maintaining mold-free shelf life in clean label formulations. Again, we have some tried-and-true legacy ingredients like calcium propionate and potassium sorbate that work incredibly well at an effective cost. A so-called fermentate, like cultured wheat starch, is the primary clean label alternative for today’s bakers, but considerable investment in expertise, equipment, time and drying costs comes with it. Expected results are similar to calcium propionate but at a significantly higher cost. At AB Mauri, we continue to work on clean label antimicrobial alternatives that will prove to be more cost effective.

What other things should a baker consider when looking to clean up their labels?

Nutrition is certainly an area that bakers may explore on the yeast side of the business. While baked goods have been under attack for some time, consumers still consider them to be a healthy part of their diets. Overall, well-being is a key underlying reason for the various organic, non-GMO, sustainability and clean label trends that are popular today. Some segments of the population are not only looking for “free from” claims, but also searching out plant-based alternatives, protein sources, pulses, higher fiber, whole grains and antioxidants. Yeast-raised baked goods are a perfect vehicle for delivering all of these important benefits.