March 1, 1997

22 Min Read
What's In-Store for Bakeries

What's In-Store for Bakeries
March 1997 -- Design Elements

By: Quentin W. Johnson
Contributing Editor

  The aromatic compounds permeating the air when freshly baked goods come out of the oven compels the senses. Since fresh-baked breads, cakes, cookies and pies always attract shoppers, it's no wonder North American in-store bakeries have experienced dramatic growth.

  In-store bakeries appear in many locations: from food supermarkets and consumer club warehouses, to convenience stores and gas stations. They range from the full-line bakery producing a wide range of baked products, to the modest-size bakery producing only one or two products with limited equipment. The type of shop greatly influences the type and design of required products.

  Despite the differences, these bakeries all sell "freshness." Acting as a magnet for consumers already shopping the aisles, in-store bakeries often succeed in generating incremental profits through impulse purchases.

  Any new and unique product can differentiate one in-store bakery from another, attracting and building consumer loyalty. Free-standing bakeries can achieve this with only a modest investment and by using frozen and preformed dough and batter. Any product imparting the impression of a full-range bakery within the store makes an impact, even though some products might be brought in 80% to 90% complete and merely finished off in the store.

  Customers who shop at all hours expect fresh-baked products. In reaction, stores are baking smaller batches more often. High-margin products such as cakes are more frequently brought in baked, and then decorated under the store's own name (private labeling). Muffins and bagels are supplied fresh-baked or baked and frozen by the supplier. Croissants, Danish and sweet pastry items continue to be supplied as frozen-dough items to be thawed and baked in the bakery. Par-baked and pre-proofed items are becoming more popular. International products with new and novel flavors have started influencing consumer-purchasing decisions.

  Nutrition issues such as low-fat, high-fiber and "natural" ingredients influence purchasing decisions. Nutraceutical foods, including baked goods, contain ingredients that may possess proven disease-prevention capabilities, and these will become more prevalent as consumers catch on. For example, research indicates that flax can help prevent breast and colon cancer. However, bakery purchases are often made on the basis of a "comfort" or "treat" impulse decision.

  For those developing new in-store bakery products, the challenge becomes designing unique products capable of use under wide-ranging conditions, on varied equipment, and within the skill limitations of employees.

Different worlds

  In-store bakeries fall into three main groups. The fully equipped or full-range bakery produces a wide baked-good selection from a full range of ingredients. The specific bakery produces a specific or specialized range of baked products, such as only cakes, muffins and cookies. The third type, limited by in-store space requirements, produces only one or two products. These bakeries are often found in convenience stores and gas stations. Limited bakeries also occupy shopping mall space as free-standing outlets of national franchise operations, such as Mrs Fields Cookies.

  Equipment. Full-range in-store bakeries come equipped with extensive equipment: bread and cake mixers, proofing chambers, dough retarders, gas-fired or electric ovens, freezers, refrigerators, bread slicers, and wrapping and decorating equipment. Specific or specialized-range bakeries contain only equipment required to make the few types of finished product the store management selects.

Limited bakeries are restricted to the simplest equipment needed to produce a limited finished-product range, using, at most , three steps. These bakeries often rely heavily on products at least 80% to 90% complete, such as muffins, cookies, croissants and Danish pastries.

  Personnel. In-store bakery employees' skill and experience levels vary greatly. Generally, full-range and specialized-range bakeries feature fully qualified bakers, supervisors and managers. The employees staffing limited bakeries usually possess little or no baking experience, but can easily acquire basic baking skills. They also have other store responsibilities. Expertise level determines whether a basic mix requiring a fairly high skill level can be used or if the store must depend on par-baked or prebaked items.

  Materials used. In-store bakeries can use the full range of raw materials available to all bakeries. These include flour, water, yeast, sugars, fats, oils, emulsifiers and leaveners. Alternatively, an in-store bakery can rely on bakery mixes, bases, concentrates, frozen dough, and preformed frozen dough pieces such as croissants, Danish pastries, and frozen batters.

  A more recent development is pre-proofed dough pieces that require only in-store baking to produce a finished product. Many bakeries prefer these because of their convenience and ease of use. A high degree of technological expertise is required to produce consistent finished products.

  In-store bakeries use in-process products ranging from low to high technological complexity. They might be dry mixes and bases, or frozen preformed or partially proofed. However, in all cases, tolerances must be designed and built into their formulations, so they perform consistently under wide-ranging shop conditions.

Finished product lines. Some bakeries make the full range of breads, cakes, pies, muffins and cookies; others specialize or limit their range to one or two lines. Choice of finished product lines depends on marketing considerations, equipment choices, space limitations and employee skill levels. Product development scientists must possess thorough knowledge of all types of these bakeries and baking conditions to ensure successful introduction of each product into the marketplace.

Designing versatility

  In general, design requirements for a good in-process product are the same as for any food product. First, the result must be a consistent, uniform baked product. Second, each ingredient or in-process product should be convenient and easy-to-use. Third, the product needs to be versatile, so it will work with varied bakery equipment. Tolerance to a wide range of bakery shop conditions is essential. Fourth, at point of sale, the finished product must possess eye appeal and good shelf life in consumers' homes.

  Consumer preferences and nutritional issues - such as low-fat and high-fiber content - need to be considered, since they remain important purchasing considerations, especially with specialty breads and rolls. The description of "natural" continues to impact sales. This requires food-product development technologists to pay close attention to type and number of food additives.

  In-process products developed for the in-store bakery market must retain adequate shelf life and tolerate wide variations in distribution system handling. Frozen and refrigerated products should be resistant to freeze/thaw cycles. For products containing yeast and chemical-leavening systems, inadvertent thawing can produce significant losses in product quality and performance.

The yeast effect

  In-store bakeries generally make two product types: yeast-raised and chemically-leavened. Frozen doughs have special requirements compared to those made on-site.

  Yeast-raised product categories include: crusty breads; specialty breads (multigrain, bran and oatmeal); nationality breads (ethnic breads from foreign nations); rolls; buns; bagels; Danish pastries; croissants; sweet buns; and pastries.

Yeast-raised products generally take the form of bakery mixes. For these, the operator adds only water and yeast to the mix. Or, in the case of a base or concentrate, the operator also adds flour and/or sugar and/or shortening. In both cases, several steps go into creating the final product. These include: developing dough (mixing); dividing into the required dough pieces; molding (shaping into the desired form); proofing (fermentation); and baking. Employees require a high level of baking expertise to produce a consistent baked product from these mixes.

  Through sugar fermentation, the yeast generates carbon dioxide that helps to expand the cellular structure. It also produces flavor volatiles that contribute to the odor of fresh-baked bread. Baking yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, comes in many different strains that exhibit different characteristics including resistance to high levels of solutes, such as sugar, and stability under frozen conditions (cryoresistance). The method of manufacture can also affect the characteristics of yeast.

  "Special strains of yeast have been developed for frozen doughs," says Jan van Eijk, Ph.D., research director, baking ingredients, Lallemand, Inc., Montreal. "They are used in Japan, but not widely used in commercial applications in the United States. Most frozen dough producers use the regular yeast strains, although they can be selected for cryoresistance by their method of production."

  According to van Eijk, the production and handling of the frozen dough also affects the performance of yeast once it is thawed. These include:

  • Low processing temperatures (approximately 68(F);

  • A short time between mixing and freezing to limit fermentation;

  • Small batches

  "A small batch will prevent the first part of the dough from having a shorter fermentation time versus the last part," van Eijk notes.

With the grain

  The following ingredients usually are used in manufacturing mixes, bases and concentrates for yeast-leavened products: flour, gluten, flour improvers, dough-conditioning agents, emulsifiers, sugar, shortening or vegetable oil, milk solids, and salt.

  Interesting specialty breads can be created by combining such seeds and grains as corn, oats, rye, rice, barley, flax, amaranth, triticale, spelt (an ancient wheat variety), sunflowers, poppy seed, sesame, and soybeans. These other ingredients can provide a healthful aura, but they must be used carefully. For example, flax contains two essential omega fatty acids -- linolenic and linoleic -- and significant levels of fiber. However, it is subject to rancidity, so defatted versions may be required.

  Using herbs and spices also can provide an almost unlimited variety of tasty, attractive and novel breads and rolls. But exercise caution, because some of these flavor enhancers can adversely affect yeast's fermentation activity. For example, ginger in bread dough can reduce yeast activity significantly while cinnamon and nutmeg can increase it.

  Choosing the correct flour in yeast-raised products is critical. Protein content should measure 12% to 14%, and the flour should be milled from hard-winter wheat or a blend of hard-winter and hard-spring wheats. Gluten quality must be quite strong, especially in developing multigrain and specialty breads where the flour must be strong enough to carry the inert (nonfunctional) grains and seeds. Whole wheat flour (milled using the entire wheat kernel) has less strength than white flour.

  In some years, overall quality and quantity of protein in wheat has been insufficient to provide the type of flour required. In these cases, gluten must be added to provide additional strength. Gluten is usually needed when formulating with specialty flour and grains. Vital wheat gluten contains approximately 77% protein, although because of its processing, this protein may have reduced functionality compared to the gluten normally present in the flour. Depending on the level and type of extra grain, seeds or fiber, up to 10 lbs. gluten should be added per 100 lbs. flour.

  Added gluten is often required for rye breads because rye flour does not contain significant gluten levels. The typical ratio for rye bread is 70:30 hard wheat flour to rye flour. Darker rye breads, including pumpernickel, can be made with darker grades of rye flour. The darker the flour, the more bran it contains.

Making improvements

  Today, many yeast-raised bakery mixes are designed to be no-time mixes. No-time baking is a process in which dough is mixed, processed, proofed and baked without a lengthy fermentation step. Using the right blend and balance of flour improvers ensures proper dough development and successful baking.

  Many European manufacturers produce additives derived from natural products, but with the functionality of man-made ingredients. These include dough-conditioning agents derived from modified corn flours and from enzyme systems that can be used as replacements for chemical dough conditioners.

  Permitted flour improvers and dough-conditioning agents include: ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, potassium bromate (in the United States only), L-cysteine hydrochloride, potassium iodate, and calcium iodate. Also permitted are enzyme blends containing a range of enzymes such as: amylase, protease and pentosanase. Maximum permitted usage levels of these additives are described in the Code of Federal Regulations (for the United States) and the Food and Drug Regulations (for Canada).

  Ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, potassium iodate and calcium iodate are fast-acting oxidizing agents that modify dough's gluten structure, particularly in the mixing stage. Because its reaction with gluten is endothermic, potassium bromate acts as an oxidizing agent during the latter stages of proofing and in the early stages of baking. In both instances, the oxidation process strengthens the gluten structure. This occurs when the reactive sulfhydryl groups on the gluten proteins link together in disulfide bonds. The reaction forms a network of chemically linked protein molecules.

  L-cysteine hydrochloride and protease enzymes act as reducing agents, relaxing the dough and making it extensible by cleaving the disulfide linkages of the protein molecule. Choosing the right blend of oxidizing and reducing agents allows the bakery mix to function as a no-time mix.

  Most nations have banned potassium bromate because of concerns about carcinogenicity, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is scrutinizing it as well. While still used in most of the United States, potassium bromate is not permitted in baked products in California.

  Because potassium bromate is not used up at the mixing stage, it imparts excellent tolerance in yeast-raised baked goods under various shop conditions, particularly at the transfer of the proofed dough pieces from proofer to oven. Replacing potassium bromate with other fast-acting oxidizing agents used up in early baking stages presents a considerable challenge to product-development scientists.

Potassium bromate has been replaced with a combination of the oxidizing agents listed above, enzyme blends and other dough-conditioning agents such as calcium and sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate (CSL and SSL); mono- and diglycerides; and diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides (DATEMs). Some success has been achieved using encapsulated oxidizing agents that mimic potassium bromate in the latter proofing and early baking stages.

  "Potassium bromate has a very slow action throughout the process - there really isn't anything that has the same action," says Mike Beavan, manager of ingredients, bakery, Watson Foods, West Haven, CT. "You need to target on a particular step, let's say the mixer. You want something that reduces the mix time and doesn't give the dough much strength. Calcium iodate is one ingredient that will help there. Then you need something that will act near the end of mixing, so you would want to use azodicarbonamide. It's not that soluble so it has a slow release.

  "The other ingredient commonly used for bromate replacement is ascorbic acid, which is a reducing agent. It will modulate some of the fast-acting oxidizers. For example, it will oxidize ADA to a more inactive form.

  "Calcium peroxide can provide some benefits by allowing the gluten to hold more water. That makes it more machinable. Adding water to peroxide causes it to react very fast. It has this extra ability to dry the dough a bit which is not very well understood."

  Enzymes also have been used to replace potassium bromate. Amylases can break down the starch as it gelatinizes in the oven. As the starch breaks down, it releases water into the crumb and delays the crumb set. This results in improved volume. Hemicellulases can also be used to break down the hemicellulose in the flour to pentosans.

  "Pentasans absorb a lot of water - that's one function, but they also oxidatively form a gel with the gluten structure," says Beavan.

  Ingredient suppliers and bakers have needed to adjust not only the formulations, but also baking methods and processing conditions required to effectively replace potassium bromate.   "The process will vary depending on what you are putting in the formula," cautions Beavan. "For a high-fiber bread, ascorbic acid at high levels seems to be beneficial. A white pan bread, using a sponge dough, requires a little less oxidation. The more fermentation a flour gets, the less oxidation you need. In a no-time dough, you need quite a bit of oxidation/reduction, or dough conditioning.

  "Relative to bromate, high levels of ascorbic acid have the tendency to lengthen the mix time. Things like calcium iodate tend to shorten the mix time."

  Using emulsifiers - such as CSL, SSL, mono- and diglycerides and DATEMs - singly or in combination provides improved dough strength, increased volume and softer crumb texture. They also extend the finished product's shelf life. DATEM emulsifiers are used extensively in frozen dough products.

  Emulsifiers act as dough conditioners by increasing the level of cross-linking in the protein molecules. This can result in increased volume and finer grain. Emulsifiers act as crumb softeners and inhibit staling by forming complexes with amylose and slowing the rate of retrogradation. We explored the use of emulsifiers in baked goods in the February 1996 issue of Food Product Design.

  Enzymes may also retard staling. Using an alpha-amylase developed for the baking industry will hydrolyze the starch in the flour to maltose and low molecular weight sugars. These act as humectants to prevent moisture migration and evaporation. Breaking down the starch molecular also inhibits starch retrogradation - the linking of molecules that creates the undesirable crumb-firming during staling.

  "Amylopectin has a tendency to migrate out of the starch granule, but it gets stuck, because of its branched structure," Beavan says. "But these molecules poke out of the starch granule and will realign with the same thing on another starch granule - this is the cause of staling after four to seven days. Maltogenic amylase is very effective in preventing the amylopectin branches from aligning with the neighboring branches by trimming them all down to the starch granule."

Other ingredients

  Used to provide sweetness, sugar also is a source of simple carbohydrates for yeast fermentation. Usage level ranges from 4% (expressed as percent per hundredweight of flour, or bakers percent) for breads, to as high as 18% for sweet dough products such as Danish.

  Shortening from animal or vegetable origin tenderizes the dough and extends shelf life. It is used at the rate of 3% in breads to 15% in sweet dough. Danish, puff pastry and other laminated dough use a roll-in shortening in the form of butter, margarine or specially formulated shortening at levels of approximately 15% to 25%. Roll-in shortening must have a suitable plasticity and toughness to allow formation of thin continuous layers during the roll-in or lamination process. These characteristics allow for creating a flaky structure in laminated products. Roll-in shortening should have sufficient plasticity at 50° to 55°F to be spread into sheets and a melting point in the range of 104° to 110°F.

  Milk solids can be used up to 6% in Danish and sweet dough. Milk solids for baking purposes should be dried at high temperatures to maintain baking performance. Demand is up for Kosher products, so use of milk products is not recommended in bread that will be consumed at meals alongside meat. Salt is used at levels between 1.5% and 2.0% and helps control the fermentation rate and the taste.

Without yeast

  Chemically leavened products - cakes, muffins, cookies, doughnuts and pies - tend to be high-margin products that can provide significant profit opportunities for in-store bakeries, and the finished product should boast strong eye appeal.

These products can originate from mixes and bases requiring added water, oil and eggs. The baker mixes the batter, deposits it into pans and tins, bakes it, then decorates the final product.

  The following ingredients are usually used in the manufacture of mixes, bases and concentrates: flour, starches, sugar, emulsifiers, shortening or vegetable oil, eggs, milk solids, chemical leavening, gums and salt.

  The type of flour used in these products is usually milled from low-protein soft wheat with a protein content in the range 8% to 11%. Most products in this category don't require flour improvers. For cakes, a chlorinated cake flour is recommended, particularly for high-ratio cakes (cakes made using formulations in which sugar content is 100% to 130% of the flour weight and a high liquid level). The chlorination process modifies the protein and the starch in the flour via oxidation. Sifting cake flour provides a specific granulation profile for optimum performance.

  Corn and wheat starches help to give structure to the product. Modified starches improve the finished product's moisture retention. Because the moisture produces lubricity normally supplied by fat, starches are used extensively in low-fat applications.

  Shortening and/or vegetable oil boosts softness in the finished product. Eggs supply structure and softening characteristics. Due to its protein content, albumen provides structure to the finished baked product. It also provides additional leavening in cakes because of its unique foaming properties and the release of carbon dioxide during baking. The yolk fraction is high in fat and contains lecithin, an emulsifying agent, thereby permitting the yolk to act as a softening agent.

  Emulsifiers - such as mono- and diglycerides, DATEMs, propylene glycol mono- and diesters of fatty acids - act as softening agents by interacting with the flour, starch, sugar, shortening and egg components in the presence of water.

  The protein in milk solids also contributes to the structure. Milk solids can come from milk and skim milk powders, whey powders, whey protein concentrates and isolates.

  Chemical-leavening systems are key to producing the right texture in a baked product. Sodium bicarbonate produces carbon dioxide - the finer the granulation, the faster the release of this leavening gas. Various acids are used in chemical-leavening systems, with different rates of reaction based on their chemical composition (neutralizing value) and granulation. Typical acids include monocalcium phosphate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, aluminum sulphate and dicalcium phosphate.

  The choice of leavening acid depends on type of product being made. A fast-acting acid, such as sodium acid pyrophosphate, will be used when a product calls for a rapid release of carbon dioxide, such as cookies. Slower-reacting acids, such as sodium aluminum phosphate, aluminum sulphate and dicalcium phosphate, are called for when leavening activity is required during the length of the baking process, as in layer cakes, loaf and pound cakes. A more detailed guide to the selection of leavening agents appears in the March 1995 Food Product Design in "Leavening Systems: Making Products Rise and Shine."

  Gums such as xanthan, guar, carrageenan and microcrystalline cellulose provide structure and can improve volume in the finished baked product. In low-fat formulations, these ingredients may help increase shelf life by retaining moisture. Gums are used in the 0.1% to 0.3% range.

Banishing mold

  In addition to staling, another problem that can adversely affect a baked product's shelf life is mold. Because in-store products are sold fresh, this problem doesn't normally occur unless the consumer brings the product home and stores it in a hospitable environment for a few days.

  Some formulations may contain mold inhibitors to extend the shelf life. They may be natural acidic ingredients, such as acid whey, raisin juice concentrate or acetic acid, that lower the pH and retard mold growth. Propionates and sorbates can also be added to doughs to inhibit microbial growth.

Frozen doughs

  In the development of frozen dough products, a number of adjustments to the formulation will be required. The yeast must be suitable for frozen dough as previously explained, and the level should be increased to 4% to 6% to compensate for loss of activity due to freezing damage and the lower rate of gas production of cryoresistant yeast. Shortening should be increased to 5%, and a slight decrease in water is required to prevent the doughs from becoming tacky.

  "When you freeze dough and take it out after three months, the proof time goes way up," Beavan says. "Everyone felt this was due to the destruction of the yeast. So they tried a number of things - coating the yeast, increasing the level of yeast and using different types that are more freeze-tolerant. That helped, but they still saw increased proof times. So they took a look at the gluten."

  Successful frozen dough production requires that the gluten be fully developed, while minimizing yeast activity before freezing the dough. Flour choice is critical and the decision should be based on the protein content and the protein quality of the flour. Added gluten might be required.   The level of oxidants should be increased to ensure proper dough maturity; compounds in burst yeast cells can act as reducing agents. The use of reducing agents used in regular breadmaking should be omitted. Emulsifiers can help increase loaf volume.

  "Dough strengtheners like SSL and CSL will give you a much better product," recommends Beavan. "In frozen dough, bromate is good, but a combination of SSL and CSL with encapsulated ascorbic acid is much better. CSL and even ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides help a great deal in stabilizing that dough structure to reduce proof time."

  Conditions during the freezing process must be carefully controlled because the rate of freezing has a significant impact on yeast cell survival. If the product is frozen too rapidly, ice-crystal formation can destroy the yeast cell protoplasm. If the product is frozen too slowly, large ice crystals can form and damage the dough structure. Slow freezing can also promote yeast fermentation. Slow thawing (thawing at refrigerated temperatures) should be used for large dough pieces to equilibrate the temperature. Finally, tolerances must be built into the formulation so the product is able to withstand freeze/thaw cycles.

Balancing act

  When developing in-store bakery products, formulations must be in balance. Bakery formulations contain many ingredients that interact with each other to such an extent that changes in the amount and type of one ingredient can cause a chain reaction in the balance of the formulation, significantly affecting product performance and end-product quality.

  When the formulation is in balance, it will consistently produce the required finished baked product under wide-ranging shop conditions. A holistic approach is recommended for creating and executing new products for in-store bakeries.

  The in-store segment of the bakery marketplace is a dynamic one, and will continue providing food-product development scientists with technical challenges. Consumers are always interested in trying products that are new, tastier, more nutritious, and easier to serve and store. New product opportunities will therefore continue to grow.

On the Service Side

  One key to success in supplying products for in-store bakeries is providing proper technical support for product users. Suppliers often create training centers specifically designed for demonstrating their products, and training employees and operators. These centers contain equipment that suppliers expect will be used with their products.

  Training centers often are staffed by personnel involved in the concept, design and development of the in-process product. In addition to knowing products well, product development teams provide suppliers with excellent vehicles for getting customer feedback and obtaining ideas for new products and product improvements.

  Suppliers are expected to provide technical field support during a new bakery's first few days or weeks. Field technical support staff are required to train new employees and operators. A supplier's field technical support staff must extensively know baking practices, equipment installed, and use of supplier's products.

  Opening an in-store bakery and introducing a new product is stressful for bakery employees. Experienced field technical support staff can make all the difference in successfully introducing new products. Strong trouble-shooting skills and a confident, cheerful disposition are invaluable prerequisites for field technical support staff.

  An independent consultant based in Rockwood, Canada, Quentin W. Johnson has worked in the milling and baking industry for more than 25 years, and specializes in product development.

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