Steven Gumeny’s love and fascination for food started early, making pizza dough in his uncle’s restaurant as a child.

“I was amazed by the commercial mixers, proof boxes and ovens,” he recalled. “Through high school and college, I worked in the restaurant industry and was inspired by the joy good food can bring to people.”

Mr. Gumeny graduated from Northeastern University in Boston with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus in entrepreneurship and new venture management. In 2013, he became a certified supply chain professional from the Association for Operations Management. 

Mr. Gumeny’s first experience in the supply side of the food industry was at Beneo, where he initially worked in supply chain before moving to product management. 

“As I learned about our products and our consumers, it inspired me to make a career in this field,” he said.

Now an 11-year industry veteran, Mr. Gumeny serves as Beneo’s product manager for rice ingredients and functional proteins for North America. 

From working in his uncle’s restaurant to today, Mr. Gumeny said learning from the incredibly smart and talented people of the industry is something he hasn’t taken for granted, and that using what he’s learned to help customers create new and innovative products is what he enjoys most. 

“Helping our customers with a project and then seeing the finished product on a supermarket shelf: It’s hard to describe what a great feeling that is,” he said.

Why may consumers want baked foods made with rice ingredients? 

Rice is naturally unique, which gives it some important benefits in the bakery. Rice starch has a small particle size, neutral taste and color, and a unique starch composition.    

Rice starch and flour have been a standard in gluten-free baking for quite some time. In gluten-free breads, they can improve the crumb structure, dough handling and volume.    

In addition to being gluten-free, rice is widely considered a familiar, natural and clean label product, with 61% of consumers worldwide regarding rice starch as natural.

How has rice’s use in baked foods evolved?

While their use in gluten-free systems is well known, rice ingredients also work well in conventional baking, and not only in the dough. Rice ingredients give the bakeshop a diverse toolbox and a wide range of solutions. 

Beyond bread, rice ingredients can improve hard baked goods, cakes, cookies and snacks. Rice starch can be used for texturizing bakery creams or fruit fillings, and rice protein is a source of plant-based protein. Even rice syrup solids will help create a vegan milk chocolate suitable for a plant-based cookie or dessert. The possibilities are endless.

What are the benefits of rice starch, and what applications are well-suited for it?

Beneo rice starch provides a number of diverse solutions for the bakery. By using starches made from different rice types, such as waxy, indica and japonica rice, you can fine-tune your product and optimize any desired texture (hardness, crunchiness, brittleness, softness).

In frozen crusts, rolls or doughs, waxy rice provides incredible freeze/thaw stability. This reduces the formation of ice crystals, which helps frozen items endure numerous freeze/thaw cycles they can encounter on the way to the customer.

Pre-cooked waxy rice starch also improves the crunch of thin bakery products like cookies. Additionally, breakage of hard baked goods can be significantly reduced with the inclusion of this product. 

Rice starch will improve the initial crumb softness and freshness of soft baked goods like cakes and muffins. 

In water-based bakery fillings, rice starches control moisture migration. In fat-based cream fillings, Beneo’s rice starch stabilizes fat and can reduce fat and sugar content. Functional, process tolerant starches like Remypure or Remygel can improve viscosity in a fruit preparation as well, where it is important to prevent the filling from spreading during baking.

Beneo also offers organic rice starches made from three types of rice (indica, waxy and japonica), allowing these same solutions to apply to organic products.

What benefits can rice flour serve in a formulation? What bakery applications is it best suited for?

Rice flour is allergen-friendly and perfect for gluten-free baking. In breads or cakes, it works to improve volume and crumb structure. It can also enhance crispiness and extend the shelf life of other baked goods. 

Also, not all rice flours are the same. Beneo offers a micronized, wet-milled rice flour that shows improved performance and volume in gluten-free products like bread, cake and pasta as compared to standard dry-milled flours. Wet milling flour increases the availability of the starch, giving it more room to work its magic in your baked goods. 

What are the benefits of using rice protein? 

Beneo’s rice protein is all-natural, gluten-free, non-GMO, hypo-allergenic and has an excellent amino acid profile and protein digestibility. It is a good protein source for mainstream, as well as gluten-free products.

It can be used to add natural plant-based protein to a variety of baked goods, from muffins and bread to cookies, cakes or cereal bars.   

What formulation impacts must bakers account for when incorporating rice ingredients? 

In general, rice ingredients are fairly easy to incorporate with other dry ingredients. Cook-up starches will not swell until heat is applied. Instant, precooked starches swell upon the introduction of moisture, giving you better dough workability on the front end of the process.

Acidity, heat and shear will degrade any native starch and can reduce functionality. Selecting a starch that is compatible with your process conditions is important to get the right performance. It is also important to consider the entire product matrix and how other ingredients might interact with starch. If there are other products competing for moisture, the order of addition might be changed to allow the starch to swell and trap moisture properly.