For frozen dough products, emulsifiers provide a lot of moisture control, but that isn’t their only trick. The variety of emulsifiers allows bakers to improve dough volume and texture as well. Emulsifiers do minimize ice crystal size, the greatest threat to the gluten, but they can also strengthen the gluten in the dough, adding another layer of protection.

“The strengthening emulsifiers such as DATEM will help with strengthening the gluten-forming proteins to maintain structure during shelf life,” said David Guilfoyle, senior group manager, bakery/fats and oils, IFF. “Without DATEM, the dough structure will start to break down internally quickly, causing coalescence of the air cells and forming large cell grain structure and blisters on the crust.”

An excessively strong dough at the beginning of a frozen product’s shelf life is necessary to endure months of frozen storage without a negative impact, according to Troy Boutte, PhD, vice president of innovation, AB Mauri North America. Strengthening emulsifiers like DATEM are able to do this because they are ionic.

These emulsifiers work by creating both hydrophobic and ionic bonds between gluten proteins,” Dr. Boutte explained. “These bonds are weaker than the covalent disulfide bonds formed by oxidizing agents, but they are far more numerous and have special properties that disulfide bonds don’t, like maintaining excellent dough handling properties.”

This creates a more stable dough that can withstand frozen storage.

This strength becomes even more critical in bakery products that aren’t relying on flours with high-protein content.

“Items such as whole wheat or multi-grain breads that typically tend to have a weaker dough structure generally have higher usage levels of emulsifiers, hydrocolloids and enzymes specifically to enhance dough strength and prevent ice crystals,” said Steven Mallory, senior application scientist, IFF.

Volume isn’t an issue just with yeast-raised baked goods, however. The freeze-thaw cycle can also negatively impact chemically leavened products.

“With chemically leavened frozen dough, the timing of the leavening reaction and the ability to trap the gases within the dough is crucial,” said Tyronna Capers, director of marketing, Bunge Loders Croklaan.

Emulsifiers provide the stability necessary for these and other functional ingredients to retain their functionality throughout a product’s frozen shelf life. This not only helps preserve the functionality of leavening agents but addresses other issues as well.

“All of these ingredients have a protective effect on the dough by giving more tolerance to the dough by strengthening the gluten for better volume and more tolerance by managing moisture and crystal size when the dough is frozen,” Ms. Dantuma said.

This article is an excerpt from the September 2021 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Emulsifiers, click here.