Bread improvers: it's all a matter of dispensing dosage quantities

From time immemorial the quality of bakery products has been influenced by the combination of raw materials, the baking process and the professional skills of the baker. In each of these areas a steady development can be observed. Ralf Neumann reports.

The kick-off for the manufacturing process in the bakery is putting together and preparing the raw materials. Bread improvers are also an important raw material.

Bread improvers should do the following: improve the quality of bakery products. Solve specific application problems.

Improve the characteristics of the dough and thus adjust them to the requirements of the technological process. Even out fluctuating processing characteristics of the raw materials. Make the manufacturing of bakery products easier.

Quality improvement

Until now, quality improvement in the widest sense has been the driving force in the development of bread improvers.

Meanwhile the demand for strongly application-specific bread improvers has been on the increase. Special bread improvers are being developed in order to solve problems that are typical for particular users or in order to support particular techniques.

Bread improvers in powder-form are still the most widely used. Due to their processing of flour, the manufacturers are accustomed to handling raw materials in powder-form.

However, the first generation of bread improvers was presented in the form of pastes. Thus the first bread improvers containing Datem, were in paste-form and were put on the market in the1960s.

By using spraying or grinding techniques, producers managed to provide Datem in powder form, so that they could easily and securely be mixed into a powderised bread improver. Bread improvers in powder-form by now have the biggest market share and have in part pushed out the pastes. In spite of this development, the pastes continue to keep a firm share in the bakery. The manufacture of delicate end products often involves processing fat and sugar in paste-form.

These components can easily be processed into one product with other bread improver components and therefore result in a dosage reduction. Product giveaway amounts of more than 10percent are common.

Fat for pasties

For pastries, for which a certain amount of fat is desirable, pastes can be a good alternative to powderised bread improvers.

The advantage here is that the amount of fat is given in one dosage together with the bread improver. Because of the homogeneous blending of the emulsifiers in the creaming phase, these are distributed faster throughout the mixture and thus develop a higher effectiveness than if they were added separately.

Powderised bread improvers and bread improvers in paste-form are the classics among the bread improvers. By using these products, practically all the demands made on a bread improver in relation to the enriching quality of bakery products can be met.

The technical advances in baking technology, the increase in production capacities, Tracking & Tracing and above all the reduction in dust nuisance make further demands on bread improvers over and above ensuring high-quality bakery products.

In this connection the dust-free block improver should be mentioned, which enables manual dosages of single-pack 1kg blocks and thus combines the best of both worlds (powder & paste).

With the increasing levels of technical sophistication and the automatic dispensing of dosage quantities of the bread improvers, bread improvers in paste-form and in powder-form are pushing their limits.

Should the dosage of the bread improvers be done largely automatically, powder can bring about problems such as: congestion of ducts and dosing units, a tendency for the mixture to separate in the pneumatic process, the danger of some components forming lumps and the dust formation. Products in paste-form must be melted before they can be pumped.

Quantifying the dosage

Because of problems in accurately quantifying the dosage of dry substances many companies with automated production processes have resorted to applying fluid or liquefied additives.

Yeast is liquefied into a fluid yeast, salt is released into the processing water and sourdough is largely used in fluid form.

The technique of applying the right dosage quantities is dependent on the physical form of the bread improvers. When one surveys the dosing process, one can subdivide it into discharge, weighing and presentation to the kneader. By discharge we mean the step from the packing to the weighing installation.

Powders are mostly scooped or poured, pastes are ladled, fluids are poured or pumped. This observation in itself already reveals a possibility for a simple dosage dispensing process.

Pumping occurs in closed systems and is therefore secure against contamination (HACCP) and easy to automate. Fluid bread improvers­so-called pumpable bread improvers­ therefore enable the highest level of automation.

Because of the advantages mentioned for fluid bread improvers, oils and fats are widely used as carriers. By carefully composing the creaming phase the viscosity can be fine-tuned.

Furthermore the system is practically water-free and emulsifiers can be easily and efficiently integrated into the creaming phase. Raw materials in powder-form such as enzymes, oxidation reducers and other reducers, malts and thickeners are easy to disperse and remain stably and homogeneously distributed.

Pumpable bread improvers consist of an external oil phase with defined viscosity, in which the powderised bread-improver components are distributed in a dispersed form. Strong demands are made on the physical stability of the system. The mixing may not disintegrate, the product must be stable within a defined temperature range. These demands can be met through the choice of appropriate raw materials as well as by means of special manufacturing techniques.

Fluid bread improvers offer advantages above all for heavily automated companies. Among these are the relatively simple technical prerequisites of the dosage process, no disintegration during the propulsion process, no lump-formation, no tendency to blockings, precise dosing capability, fast distribution throughout the mixture of the additives that are active in the baking process.

Often the development of a technology goes hand in hand with the development of the bread improvers needed for it.

However, oil and fats are not just carrier material and crucial elements in shaping the physical form. They are also high-quality and quality-determining raw materials relative to the quality of bakery products.

Down the ages fats have been used as raw materials in the bakery. They improve the characteristics of the dough, have a positive impact on keeping the product fresh and above all they enhance the taste and enjoyment value of the bakery products.

Controllable procedures

Keeping bakery products at a consistently maintained quality level requires uniform quality of raw materials and controllable procedures. These aspects come to fruition even more strongly in automated procedures and the generally automatic manufacture of bakery products.

The user can choose between the forms of bread improvers on offer:powder, block improver, paste, liqui. On the basis of the technical equipment, the company-specific situation on the ground and personal preferences, he can select the optimal bread improver for the particular situation.

But whichever form of bread improver the individual user opts for, at the end of the day it is still all a matter of getting the dosage right.


Ralf Neumann is Head Research and Development,

Sonneveld Group BV, Papendrecht, The Netherlands.

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