Fresh bakeries have more opportunities to experiment with savory inclusions, as their products are intended for immediate consumption. Commercial bakeries require careful ingredient selection before those little extras get folded into batters, layered between dough or sprinkled on top. Inclusions and toppings should not have any deleterious effect on the baked good. Moisture migration is one of the most important considerations, as this impacts quality and shelf life. Others include bleeding, oozing and color changing.

Commercial baked goods innovators often rely on value-added inclusions described as fabricated flavorful bits, chips, chunks, crunches, fillings, flakes, nuggets and sprinkles. These ingredients are designed to withstand the rigors of baking and distribution. They can be colored, fortified and texturized, and through careful manipulation of formulation, suppliers control their performance in the finished baked good.

Fabricated inclusions also provide an economical and easy way to bake limited-time offerings, thereby creating an urgency to purchase. Their intent is to wow the consumer with flavor, texture and visual appeal.

“We have our sweet topicals and inclusions to add flavor, color and texture to baked goods, and many of these same products can feature a spicy or savory profile,” said John Pimpo, marketing director, Parker Food Group. “Our grain-based items can be flavored and colored and used for pre- and post-bake applications. They are designed to stay suspended in a batter but can also be used as a topping.”

Savory options include Mexican chocolate, sriracha, chipotle and stout coffee. One of the newest offerings is salted butter, which allows for a “pat of butter in every bite” taste experience in items such as biscuits and muffins.

“Other potential trending profiles include chili lime, bourbon, mustard, jalapeño ranch and Thai basil,” Mr. Pimpo said.

These flavors can be added to all types of fabricated inclusions. They can have multi-flavor dimensions when combined with sweet or salty profiles. Parker Products has a bake-stable toffee ingredient engineered to keep the look, texture and taste of toffee, even after baking. It can readily be layered with savory flavors for differentiation.

“We have a new hot honey nougat that is great as a cornbread topper or any baked good looking for a sweet heat,” Mr. Pimpo said. “We also have a full line of praline nuts in many of the popular savory profiles, like sriracha and chipotle, as well as new dill pickle cashews.”

Pecan Deluxe Candy Co. has been layering flavors onto nuts, seeds and baked pieces through coating and candying techniques for some time. These ingredients can be customized by size for varied applications. Concepts include sea salt praline pretzels in brownies, cheddar nougats in biscuits and barbecue pecans in a cheddar scone.

“We have made items with ginger inclusions that were amazing,” said James Bruce, vice president of sales and business development of Pecan Deluxe Candy Co. “There’s a maple bacon-flavored toffee that goes in many applications. Here’s an added bonus: The bacon flavor is kosher. A true culinary win is our Parmesan-coated pine nuts.”

The company has also seen interest in its garlic-seasoned nuts and spiced pumpkin seeds, which are seasoned with ginger, cinnamon and cloves, according to Claudia Granda, vice president of research and development.

Pralining is the function of coating nuts in a sugar (candy) solution until brown and crisp, creating a crunchy shell. This functions as a barrier to maintain piece integrity.

“Our praline ingredients hold up well in all types of bakery applications, both batters and doughs,” said Paula Simons, research and development manager, Pecan Deluxe Candy Co. “We have pralined black pepper pumpkin seeds that are a very popular inclusion. We have done some development work on cheddar cookies and crunches that contain cheese and give a salty and cheesy hit. These crunchy baked pieces stand out well in softer baked goods, such as apple puree-based cookies with the crunchy cheddar cookie inclusions baked in for a cheddar apple pie concept.”

Glanbia Nutritionals produces edible glitter that can be colored and flavored. The glitter is heat stable and tolerant to the high temperatures of frying and baking.

“Glitter can serve as a visual cue in savory foods,” said Lorie Pillsbury, senior product manager. “Red can signal heat or a specific vegetable, such as pimentos, tomatoes, red peppers or radishes. Green, orange and yellow can also be used to suggest the presence of vegetable pieces such as carrots, spinach and kale. If the customer is mixing a savory flavor with some sweet notes, or a savory flavor with fruit, the glitter can be used to visualize the nondominant flavor, thereby enhancing the perception of its taste. Additionally, glitter might be used for combination food flavors, such as chicken and biscuits, tacos, etc.”

The glitter can also be made into shapes and comes in soluble and insoluble forms for additional creativity. A flavor change effect, for example, can be achieved by incorporating one flavor into a fast-release glitter and a second flavor into a slow-release glitter.

“Consumers are drawn to certain food products over others not only because of how they taste and smell but also because of how they appear visually,” said Donna Wamsley, senior director product strategy at Glanbia Nutritionals. “Specific colors may be associated with particular foods or food properties; therefore, color also influences the perception of flavor in various ways. Since color is often the first element noticed of a food product, glitter is an excellent way to add sensory cues of flavor expectations.”

Lesaffre recently launched artisan seeds and semolina toppings to transform existing formulations into new products or limited-time offerings. The seeds inclusion combines flax, oats and millet and undergoes a fermentation process.

“The toppings are aromatic, have an umami flavor, add crunch and crispiness and contribute an artisan feel,” said Ralf Tschenscher, baking business development manager. “The toppings work well in breads, rolls, pizza crusts, bagels, soft pretzels and crackers. They can significantly change the flavor and texture of baked goods by simply being sprinkled on top of or mixed into dough, either by hand or by using systems already in place on production lines, such as those used to apply sesame and polenta.

“The semolina is durum wheat semolina infused with fermentation-based coatings,” he continued. “It has a cheesy, mildly salty flavor that lends itself to vegan cheese breads or vegan pizza crusts.”

When working with any type of inclusion, the point of addition and environment must be considered. These ingredients are not one-size-fits-all, and customization is often required to optimize the performance in each specific end-use application and with each process.           

This article is an excerpt from the June 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Inclusions, click here.