To successfully bake products requires an astute blend of art and science. A fundamental ingredient in the baking process is the leavening agent. Leavening contributes essential sensory characteristics to bakery products.


Sourdough BOOM

Sourdough is experiencing a resurgence.

Lesaffre, Milwaukee, WI, recently launched Platinum Instant Sourdough under the Red Star Yeast brand. It is a dry yeast substitute that incorporates real sourdough culture and is geared toward the home baker. Fostering growth of sourdough overall—including in the consumer market—can have a cumulative effect that impacts demand for commercially produced sourdough baked goods.

“With this product, home bakers can get the convenience of dry yeast and the great flavor of sourdough. The mix contains a combination of yeast, sourdough culture and dough strengtheners. It’s an easy way to get the sourdough experience without having to maintain a starter, making sourdough baking more accessible,” explains Bill Hanes, vice president, marketing and strategy, Lesaffre.

For commercial bakers who want to add the aromatic characteristics of sourdough, Lesaffre Livendo offers a range of sourdough solutions in four different categories: starters, live sourdough, devitalized sourdoughs and sourdough-based preparations. “Lesaffre’s Livendo sours are easy-to-use solutions that can be incorporated directly into flour and result in easier-to-shape doughs for greater efficiency in production. And for those bakers focused on organic products, Livendo EC40, a devitalized sourdough, delivers these benefits and is certified organic,” notes Hanes.

When it comes to sourdough and the baking industry in general, we have seen a movement back to basics. “At Puratos, we firmly believe that the future of bread lies in the past, and that includes natural, simple ingredients like sourdough. Our product range is oriented to natural fermentation products to deliver on flavor to create artisan-style breads. This is a category that has been growing steadily over the last few years, and we believe has a larger potential in the U.S. market,” notes Michael Gleason, product manager, bakery flavors and specialty grains, Puratos, Pennsauken, NJ.

In order to help alleviate some of the complexity with keeping sourdoughs, the company has developed Living Sourdoughs. The company currently offers two such products: Sapore Oracolo (a rye sourdough) and Sapore Adelia (a wheat sourdough).

“The way we produce these items is by fermenting the flour to build acidity and flavor, then we drop the temperature to below 40˚F to stop the fermentation,” says Gleason. “This allows us to capture the full complexity of the sourdough without losing any of the more-volatile flavor notes through heating processes such as pasteurization. The end result is a sourdough that is as close to a homemade starter as you can get on an industrial scale. The yeast and bacteria remain alive throughout the three-month shelf life, but due to the refrigerated storage conditions, they do not have enough fermentation power to leaven the breads alone, so some yeast is needed in most baking conditions.” These products have been used in a broad range of bakery applications, including standard artisan products like baguettes and Italian breads, as well as sweet, enriched doughs such as brioche.

“Artisanal sourdough products are becoming more specialized, offering unique flavor profiles and taste attributes,” says Paul Bright, innovation manager, AB Mauri North America, St. Louis. “For example, some consumers look for a traditional West Coast–style robust sour flavor, while other seek typical Eastern European rye flavors that even border mild French poolish recipes. At AB Mauri North America, we have an Aromaferm line of naturally fermented sourdough flavors designed to meet the preferences of today’s consumers.”

Bright notes the bread baking industry is moving toward shorter processing time, as a result this reduces the typical fermentation time used to manufacture bread. “Today’s bakers are looking for new, innovative leavening solutions to provide both desirable fermentation aromas and flavors using shorter processing conditions, as well as finished bread taste.”

The Pak Group, Pasadena, CA, has also introduced new ingredients to address the growing demand for sourdough-type breads. “Perfect for bakeries of all sizes, from large commercial bakeries to local artisans, our clean-label and authentic Bellarise Golden Gate Sour sourdough base gives bakers a foundation upon which they can build their own sourdoughs. All bakers need to do is add flour, water and yeast to Bellarise Golden Gate Sour, since it also includes a built-in, proprietary dough conditioner and flavor system that ensures great sourdough at every bake. With Bellarise Golden Gate Sour, bakers can craft sourdough breads with the most-authentic flavor, texture, appearance and aroma,” says Cam Suárez-Bitár, marketing and public relations manager.


Strong performers

The Pak Group has fully launched its non-GMO Bellarise Supreme Instant Dry Yeast to improve leavening performance in select types of baked goods. “Bellarise Supreme Instant Dry Yeast is a unique strain that thrives in lean, low-sugar doughs,” says Suárez-Bitár. “Its increased gassing power allows bakers to either cut their proof times or the amount of instant dry yeast used in their breads to achieve the same volume and improve the crumb structure.” The product is best suited to use in low-sugar dough applications, such as baguettes, English muffins, bagels, pizza crusts and focaccia. As with all of the Bellarise yeast products, the product is raised using beet molasses.

Lesaffre notes that commercial bakers are crafting new offerings with artisanal appeal. “While artisan products are prized for their uniqueness, they also require a certain level of consistency for large-scale commercial success. To serve these needs, we offer Star’Bake Artisan, a special base that incorporates malt flour and sourdough to create a distinctive, artisanal experience in breads, rolls, pizza crust, flatbreads and sweet goods while maintaining excellent shelf life. Star’Bake Artisan bases allow for bakers to save time and achieve greater consistency by removing the need to measure fine-tuned amounts of leaveners, bread improvers and flavors,” explains Hanes.

Allied Blending LP, Bell, CA, formulates leavening blends to optimize benefits using baking powders supplemented with other carefully selected functional ingredients. “Chemical leavening is faster-acting than a yeast leavening approach,” says Shima Agah, food scientist. “Chemical leavening agents provide volume, texture, color and eye appeal for baked goods. Chemical leavening is typically used in flour-based systems that do not use yeast—this includes fresh and frozen cakes, waffles, pancakes, cookies, muffins, biscuits, tortillas, doughnuts, pizza crust and the mixes that are used to make them. Depending upon the type of baked product, different amounts of leavening are needed at each stage. For example, cake doughnuts require a leavening agent that releases little carbon dioxide during the mixing and standing stages, and a rapid release during deep-fat frying.” Allied Blending offers a range of different modern types of chemical leavenings that are developed based on each individual customer’s needs.

Bakers rely on leavening agents to do a lot of heavy lifting. And it’s just as important to select the best leavening agent as it is to optimize its performance based on the formulation, processing parameters and the desired sensory characteristics.

The majority of leavening suppliers take a customized approach to first understanding the customer’s needs, formulations, process and desired outcome before providing specific recommendations to optimize leavening performance.

Lesaffre has developed a sales tool called My Sourdough to work with its line of Livendo starters. The sales team can utilize this tool when working with each customer. This application helps advise customers on the best process/recipe parameters to select in order to meet or exceed their expectations when they use Livendo starters in a liquid sourdough.

By moving “back to the basics,” some areas of the baking industry are fostering revitalized interest in everyday baked goods like breads to fuel incremental sales growth—and artisanal-style, sourdough products fit perfectly into this scenario. Going forward, this movement will benefit from suppliers who can provide bakers with leavening agents that deliver amazing flavor, aroma and texture—and do so efficiently in a shorter period of time.