Count saving on vital wheat gluten costs as one more way in which enzymes may assist bakers. Enzyme systems in recent years have become valuable tools in achieving clean labels, helping companies replace chemical-sounding ingredients like calcium propionate and DATEM (diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides).

This year, the baking industry has dealt with soaring vital wheat gluten prices.

The United States is a net importer of gluten, meaning it does not make enough domestically to be self-sufficient and therefore relies on imports to meet demand, said Troy Boutte, PhD, vice president, innovation for AB Mauri North America. High ocean freight costs and disappointing levels of protein in wheat from the European Union were two reasons for the rising costs of vital wheat gluten. At one point in 2022, contracted prices for vital wheat gluten had increased 60% from 2021.

Tess Brensing, senior product manager, functional systems for Corbion, cited four areas where enzymes may assist with vital wheat gluten in a March 2 presentation at the American Society of Baking’s BakingTech in Chicago.

“You have to think about increasing the water availability for gluten development,” Ms. Brensing said for one area. “Gluten is not gluten unless there is water and energy put together.”

Enzymes also may improve gas cell stabilization by creating emulsifiers, promote a stronger gluten network through crosslinking and assist with relaxation to facilitate dough machinability.

Corbion offers Pristine 3000 within its portfolio of dough conditioners that contain enzymes. Besides reducing the need for added vital wheat gluten, the ingredient allows bakers to overcome hurdles like wheat protein inconsistencies and high-speed processing without relying on gluten supplementation and traditional systems like DATEM.

Lallemand Baking offers Essential GR 1620, an enzyme-based dough strengthener that may be used to reduce gluten in whole wheat and whole grain bread by enhancing gluten functionality. Depending on the application, gluten may be reduced from 20% to 50% in high-fiber bread formulations. Mix time may be reduced by about 33%.

Vital wheat gluten reduction may be achieved across various baked foods applications with the right enzyme blend, said Elyse Buckley, senior regulatory specialist for Lesaffre.

“The feasibility of using less vital wheat gluten depends on the processing conditions, product characteristics and wheat flour protein level,” she said. “Doughs machined and proofed on strenuous production lines need the additional gluten level for maintaining volume throughout the process. As such, it is challenging to use less gluten in these formulations without risking making delicate doughs prone to deflating. Hot dog and hamburger buns require vital wheat gluten for maintaining hinge strength in the final baked product. Additionally, starting with a higher protein wheat flour enables reducing vital wheat gluten usage since there is more inherently present protein to optimize with enzymes.”

When working with enzymes, formulators should consider time, temperature and pH, Dr. Boutte said.

“An enzyme system that works well at a pH of 5.5 in basic bread may not work well in a sourdough at a pH of 3.9,” he said. “Likewise, an enzyme designed to work in a cold dough may not be optimized for a very warm tortilla dough. Additionally, time is critical. Enzyme activity will roughly double for a 20-degree Fahrenheit change in temperature or a doubling of time available for the enzyme to work. Likewise, a change of pH from 5 to 6 may increase or decrease enzyme activity by as much as 50%. Further, for blends of enzymes, some enzymes could be increasing in activity while others are decreasing.”

Reducing oil costs by 15% to 30% is a main benefit in a dough improver from Pak Group North America. The non-GMO enzyme system lowers uses rates by up to 50%, depending on the recipe.

Consumer interest in clean labels remains elevated, which was evident in the 2022 Food and Health Survey from the International Food Information Council. Among respondents following a diet or eating pattern in the past year, 16% said they were following a clean eating pattern, the top answer. When asked why they sought natural food and beverages, 47% said they wanted to avoid artificial ingredients, which trailed only 54% who said natural foods generally are healthier for you. Thirty-six percent, the fifth highest percentage, said they were worried about potential harmful additives or chemicals in food.

Enzymes may play a role in clean eating.

IFF, New York, recently launched Enovera 3001, a label-friendly dough strengthener. The enzyme system replicates the robustness and functionality of conventional dough strengtheners in a formula without DATEM, monoglycerides or crutch additions. In application trials, Enovera 3001 provided the same shocked and baked volumes as dough formulated with traditional emulsifiers DATEM and monoglycerides. Application trials also found equivalent resilience and comparable crumb structure quality when using Enovera 3001 in wheat bread compared to control and competitive market solutions.

Cain Food Industries offers AlphaFresh, a label-friendly mold inhibitor. The company uses a proprietary fermentation process to produce an enhanced blend of organic acids that inhibits mold with minimal impact on yeast fermentation.