Few people enjoy bread with a hard, dry crust that sticks to the teeth and is so brittle that it flakes off in chunks. But these are the quality defects many of us battle with when producing par-baked bread.
Contributing factors include the ingredients used to secure dough stability and volume and the ambient or frozen storage conditions of par-baked bread after it has been in the oven for the first time.
Strength without hardness
Let’s start with the ingredient issue – specifically the DATEM (diacetyl tartaric acid ester of mono- and diglycerides) and ascorbic acid widely used in industrial bread-making for dough strengthening.
A drawback in par-baked bread is that a high dosage of these ingredients gives a thicker bread crust.
After the second baking, the crust typically becomes dry, hard and short – not the characteristics that give optimum consumer satisfaction.
Our own hunt for a solution has led us to a combination of the fruit sugar fructose and the enzyme amyloglucosidase, which catalyses the production of glucose. Both fructose and glucose have a well-documented high impact on the Maillard reaction. In our trials, we have found that the result of this impact is par-baked bread with a consistently thinner, crisper crust with a tender bite.
Flexibility without flake-off
A crust that is both thin and flexible is also an advantage when controlling flake-off – a primary reason why bread often lands in the bin before even getting to the store shelf. There are several reasons why flake-off occurs.
In par-bakes for ambient storage, the flake-off risk is higher if the first baking is too long or intensive.
Damage is then likely during transportation and handling.
If the par-baked bread is to be frozen, a slow cooling process may cause the crumb to shrink and become detached from the crust. Ice crystal formation in the freezer can put the crust under further pressure as the crumb expands. In both cases, the crust may crack and break away in chunks.
For flake-off control, we have found that amyloglucosidase again produces good results, this time when used with lecithin. The thin, flexible crust that results is also able to withstand handling after the second baking – suffering minimal damage, for example, when par-baked bread is sold from automated vending machines.
Blistering in baquettes
A particular issue in baguette production is blistering, where large holes develop underneath the crust.
Although monoglycerides are a well-known solution, their use may be accompanied by reduced crust crispness.
Our tests have shown that amyloglucosidase is an efficient alternative. By speeding up crust development, a higher dosage of the enzyme prevents blistering with no negative consequences for dough handling.
Meeting all needs
Improving crust eating quality and reducing flake-off are needs that tend to go hand-in-hand. For this reason, we have run trials with amyloglucosidase, fructose and lecithin in the same formulation. The results are encouraging.
All the solutions we have tested are used in addition to DATEM and ascorbic acid. That means you can improve the quality of your crust at no expense to bread volume and dough handling properties.