For unconventional baked goods, a baker must understand the chemical, functional, physical and sensory properties of the alternative flours and other ingredients in a formulation. Key adjustments that need to be made include the leavening system and the amount of added water. Gluten-free items are a great example of how formulations require adjustments.

“Gluten-free cookies can be made using simple combinations of alternative flours and starches in place of wheat flour, unlike products where gluten functionality is necessary,” said Kathy Lewis, senior research and development scientist at Ardent Mills. “On the other hand, gluten-free cakes and breads are more challenging and may require a combination of flours, starches, hydrocolloids and quality protein such as whole egg or egg white to optimize volume and crumb structure.”

Innophos offers several leavening systems designed to create the right texture and volume for alternative grains and flours compared to traditional all-purpose or wheat flour.

“Our solutions are proven to yield higher volumes in baked goods made with alternative flours,” said Amr Shaheed, technical service manager, food applications, Innophos. “For example, in a yellow cake utilizing a rice flour blend, we were able to achieve a 30% increase in volume and softer texture of yellow cake made with wheat flour.”

Scoular offers a functional chickpea flour made by a patent-pending production process to deliver increased functionality and taste benefits. It is often used in gluten-free baked goods.

“It functions comparably to eggs, isolated proteins, gums and modified starches due to its emulsifying, foaming, gelatinization and water-holding capabilities,” said Kate Kadlec, research and development scientist. “It performs at parity or better than other gluten-free flours or high-functioning ingredients on the market. Nutritionally, it is high in fiber and protein while maintaining a clean taste and light color.”

The starches in the functional chickpea flour gel at a similar temperature to wheat flour, providing a comparable dough stability on the processing line. The flour is light in color and clean tasting with cereal notes comparable to wheat flour, according to Ms. Kadlec. It has a reduced fat content compared to some other alternative grains, reducing the chance of oxidative rancidity.

“Due to the higher protein content, functional chickpea flour may cause more browning than traditional wheat flour,” Ms. Kadlec said. “The formulator will need to pay attention to other browning ingredients, like dairy powders or proteins, and adjust bake time and temperature as needed.”

With alternative grains, bakers can reduce their reliance on gluten, improve nutrition and contribute to the health of the planet. Incorporating these grains requires an education in their makeup and how they can best serve a formulation. 

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