John Hinds wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to study once he arrived at Kansas State University. He’d always loved being around food and cooking but wasn’t looking for a career in the culinary arts. Then a family friend pointed him in a new direction, where he quickly found his passion.

“I was captivated by the bakery science major,” he said. “I think what I enjoy most about a career in baking and snack is that we are always challenged to continue to adapt and learn with changes in consumer habits. We don’t always have the answer, but the new challenges keep the job fun and engaging.”

Mr. Hinds has been with Cain Food Industries Inc. for eight years, starting as an R&D bakery technician, which is where he built his foundational understanding of the functionality of ingredients in a formulation. He worked his way up to his current position as innovation center manager, supervising a group of scientists in Cain’s research labs. Before joining Cain Foods, he worked in manufacturing as a supervisor on bread, rolls and cake donuts, which gave him an understanding of the commercial production process, people and equipment.

He enjoys working with his team to tackle challenges and collaborating with customers on projects. In addition, Mr. Hinds is a member of the American Society of Baking, sits on the board of the Bakers National Education Foundation and is active in the Young Professionals Group of the American Bakers Association.

How can enzymes offer clean label shelf-life solutions?

Enzymes are incredibly efficient at delaying starch retrogradation and maintaining crumb softness. Amylase enzymes and lipases are effective at reducing staling and extending shelf life. Maltogenic amylases are widely used across the industry to extend crumb softness up to 21 days at ambient temperatures. Combining amylases, lipases and other enzymes improves not only overall bread softness but also contributes a moist bite along with improved crumb resilience, cohesiveness and a more pleasant eating experience.

Combined enzyme technology will continue to allow us to push the limits on how long we can keep a baked good fresh. The best part: They are label friendly. Most bakers are already using enzymes, so the addition of an enzyme-based crumb softener will have little to no impact on the label. In some cases, you may be able to reduce or eliminate emulsifiers, but there are also synergies between enzymes and emulsifiers. 

What types of enzymes should bakers consider for shelf-life extension? Are there bakery applications more well-suited to enzymes?

Bakers should consider amylases in combination with lipases and other enzymes depending on the type of texture they want. If you are looking for a very bready, resilient crumb, you may rely almost entirely on a maltogenic amylase. If you are looking for a gummier, more moist crumb, you may want to look at a bacterial amylase. Combining multiple enzymes not only improves the texture of the finished product but also helps minimize the cost of the softening solution. It should also be noted that you need to consider other enzymes in your dough system, including dough improvers or mix reducers.

The type of baked good and processing parameters will dictate which enzymes work best. Shorter bake times will require different enzymes and at different quantities than longer bake times. A low-pH product, such as a long fermentation sourdough, may require a different enzyme for softening than a high-sugar, high-pH sweet good. Higher sugar levels can even inhibit some softening enzymes. Batter systems function differently than dough systems, which will also change which enzyme may be necessary. It is best to look at your baked good and processes as a whole and communicate clearly with your enzyme supplier to find the solution best suited for you.

How do pH, temperature and cooling time impact enzyme effectiveness?

Enzyme activity is dependent on both the dough pH and temperature. Depending on the enzyme, the active pH range can be very narrow or very broad. Certain enzymes, like lipases, are more effective at neutral pH conditions, while others are more active at lower pH. A good understanding of your product and process and good communication with your enzyme supplier is key to making sure you have the right solution. And pH is not the only moderator of activity; temperature also affects enzyme activity.

Typically, the warmer the dough the more active the enzyme. This is the case until the enzyme hits a temperature in which it denatures. Most enzymes denature below a temperature of 190°F. A hot dough can cause an enzyme, such as a fungal amylase, to be overactive in dough makeup and create a sticky dough that is hard to process.

In contrast, a cold dough may reduce the activity of the dough conditioning enzymes, creating a dough that is stiff, proofs slowly, and has excessive break and shred. For crumb softening enzymes, the faster you get to the denature temperature, the more enzyme you may need to impact your finished product softness. Oven exit temperatures should also be monitored. High oven exit temperatures can indicate overbaking, which can dry out the baked good and create a need to use more enzyme to get the desired softness through shelf life. This can drive up cost. It comes down to knowing the dough system and processing and choosing and balancing the enzymes that are most effective within the processing environment.

A longer or shorter processing time will also influence an enzyme’s impact on the dough and finished good. The longer the enzyme has to work on the substrate, the more effective it will be. Cooling time may not impact the enzymes directly as most are denatured in the oven. However, longer cooling times will cause excess moisture loss which will impact the texture of your baked good. This can dry out the product and make it appear the enzymes were ineffective. Bakers then may have to use more enzyme which increases cost. To effectively extend the shelf life of a baked good, bakers should monitor and understand the dough system and dough processing from the time they add the enzymes at the bowl to the time they package the baked good.

How does this change for frozen dough products vs. finished baked goods?

The principles remain the same when working in frozen dough products. Bakers must know the processing characteristics of the dough, the dough pH and processing temperatures. Bakers should also consider the formulation. Low-sugar products may require additional amylases to feed the yeast during the thawing and proofing stages. The type of fat used in the product can dictate which lipases may be best suited to improve the dough conditioning and finished volume without causing rancidity. This can be especially important when using butter.

Lipases work well to improve emulsification and reduce the size of ice crystals within the dough. This maintains dough quality during the freezing period and improves oven spring and volume upon bake. Maintaining good dough processing temperatures and holding temperatures of frozen dough are important to reduce ice crystal formation, which damage the gluten. It also minimizes the impact enzymes may have on the frozen dough until it is thawed and baked, allowing for better dough tolerance.