Customers Section


Ingredients 101


Quality control of your bread production should start with an understanding of what the ingredients do. Using good technical skills, the baker can manipulate the inconsistencies of ingredients to produce a uniform, consistent product. When discussing other ingredients, we will base all usage levels in comparison to flour. We call this percentage the “Baker’s Percent.” When using Baker’s Percent, the total flour will always add up to 100%


Flour comes from the wheat kernel and yields about 75% flour out of the wheat. White flour comes from the middle of the kernel. Most formulations yield slightly over 1.5 pounds of bread for every pound of flour.

Flour is divided into many separate parts. Most of the flour is composed of starch, and this starch is either undamaged or damaged during the milling process. The damaged starch is fully hydrated in the dough, but the undamaged (or native) starch cannot fully hydrate until the baking process. Normal levels of damaged starch are between 6 and 11 percent in bread flours.

Along with fat, sugars and mineral content (ash), flour also has protein in it. This gluten-forming protein is insoluble in water and forms a rubbery mass when mixed with water. Common Specifications for flour include:

  • Moisture (12-14%)
  • Ash (.45 – .65%)
  • Protein (10.5 – 13%)

Flour Variables : Many factors in today’s market have resulted in flour problems for the baker. Climatic conditions during growing and harvesting, the kind of wheat variety that is planted, government farm policies, and fertilizer and pesticide usage have impacted the quality of wheat. Efforts are ongoing to improve overall quality, but variations are going to occur.

Flour Performance: Traditionally, the higher the protein level of flour, the better is the expected quality and the higher the price. As mentioned earlier, protein in wheat flour is gluten-forming protein. This protein allows the dough to retain gas and as the gas is produced by yeast activity, the mass rises. The quality of the protein is just as important as the quantity of protein.

To improve the performance, certain specified treatments are added like bleaching, enriching, malting, and maturing.

Flour provides the structure needed to produce leavened bread. When dough rises due to the expansion of the gluten, and once the dough reaches a temperature of between 140 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit, the starch gelatinizes. The dough is now bread. During gelatinization, the starch granules rupture and become fully hydrated. As the granules hydrate, they swell and become more viscous. Another important factor to remember is that damaged and gelatinized starch is converted to maltose sugar by enzyme activity.


Water is the second main ingredient on the label, and the control of it is important. The main function of water is hydration. All ingredients must have water to function.
The total level of water in bread dough is normally within the range of 55% to 65%.
Water is the least expensive ingredient in the formulation. However, too much water can dilute a good product.


Yeast is used in bread dough to provide leavening. The level of usage in most breads is 2 to 5% compressed yeast. Yeast converts fermentable sugars into carbon dioxide and alcohol in a reaction called fermentation. Yeast is a living organism and its activity can be influenced by storage practices

Dry yeasts have a longer shelf life and do not need to be refrigerated. Active dry yeast must be prehydrated 5 to 15 minutes before adding to a dough in 95 – 110 degree water.
Instant dry yeast can be added without prehydrating. Compressed and cream yeasts need to be stored at refrigerated conditions.


The main function of salt is to mask off flavors and bring out good flavor of the baked product. Usage levels are normally between 1.5 and 2.5%. Salt also inhibits fermentation with a partial dehydration of the yeast cell. Salt toughens the gluten and strengthens weaker flours.


Sugar provides food for the yeast. In a normal bread production process, 3 to 3.5 % fermentable solids are required to sustain yeast activity. This food supply can come from added sugar, from conversion of starches to sugars, or a combination of both. As residual sugar levels are higher, crust color is darker, taste is sweeter, and moisture retention is improved.

The most common sugar is 42 high fructose corn syrup (the 42 means that 42% of the solids in the syrup are fructose). When storing syrups, it is important to keep the temperature slightly warm (around 85 degrees Fahrenheit). If the syrup gets cold, it will crystallize during storage. If it gets too hot, it will darken or caramelize. Usage levels for sugars range from 0 to 15%.


Shortening is used in bread production to provide overall lubrication. It is necessary to use a small amount to facilitate slicing. It is recommended to use a minimum of .7 to 1% for good slicing (although some bakers use less that this on low-calorie breads. Shortening also lubricates the dough to ease dough expansion. It also tenderizes the crust and improves shelf life. Normal usage levels are 0 to 5%. White pan bread usage between 1.5 and 3%. The most commonly used shortening is soybean oil. Most bakers have removed all animal fate such as lard and butter from formulations to that no cholesterol is on the label.


Milk solids are primarily used as nutritional supplements. The overall nutritional quality is excellent. Liquid milk is almost never used. It is very perishable and has a weakening effect upon the gluten. Using high-heat treated nonfat dry milk allows the baker to have the benefits of milk without the disadvantages. Milk or milk replacers range from 0 and 4%


This is addition of specific vitamins and minerals to the flour or dough to improve public health. Enrichment replaces nutrients lost during the milling process. Flour and dough are a vehicle providing other nutrients to the public that are deemed as needed.


Mold inhibitors are additives that have a retarding effect upon the growth of mold and bacteria. It should be noted that mold inhibitors will also inhibit yeast. To produce a mold-free product, it is important to have a very clean production facility where equipment and plant air are clean and employees follow good manufacturing practices.

Bread is an ideal medium for mold growth because mold thrives in warm temperatures, slightly acidic conditions, oxygen, and moisture. Without an inhibitor, mold will appear on a product stored at room temperature in three to five days. Freezing or refrigerating the product will lengthen this time. Whether or not mold inhibitors are an essential ingredient depends on the required amount of shelf life to satisfy the customer. The most commonly used mold inhibitor is calcium propionate because it is effective and relatively inexpensive.


This is the natural wheat protein extracted from flour which still retains all of its vital gluten forming characteristics. It helps to strengthen weak flour and add extra desired loaf volume. A 1% addition of wheat gluten will increase the flour protein content by 0.6% and absorption by 1.5%. By adding wheat gluten to a formula, mixing and fermentation times are generally increased and tolerances are improved. Normal levels range from 1 to 5% for most variety pan, hearth style breads and buns to 8 to 15% levels for the multigrain and high fiber breads.


There are four main categories to dough conditioners: enzymes, oxidizing agents, reducing agents, and emulsifiers.

Enzymes are biological catalysts that accelerate chemical reactions. They are protein materials, but not gluten-forming protein. Within the range, activity increases with temperature.

There are main enzymes that are commonly added to doughs: amylases, proteases, and lipoxydases. The amylases convert starch into sugar. Amylases that are added to flour or dough can come from three different sources: a cereal source (malted wheat or malted barley), a fungal source, or a bacterial source.


There are two main malts: Diastatic malt (enzyme active) and non-diastatic malt (non- enzyme active).

Diastatic Malt: is malt with the active amylases enzymes which will convert damaged starches into fermentable sugars. Most flours today are malted at the mill. This improves dough handling, provides more food for yeast, flavor, crust and crumb color and aids in shelf life. Malt syrups are used at about 1-2% levels.

Nondiastatic Malt: has been treated to denature the enzymes, making them inactive
It will aid in the fermentation of the dough and contribute to flavor, crust, and crumb color of the finished product.


Fungal Amylases function the same as cereal malt amylases except for one important factor—when in the oven they do not survive in the product for as long as cereal amylases do. This means that it is not as easy to overmalt a product when using fungal amylases.


These are used to weaken the protein in the dough to decrease mixing time, improve machinability, and/or increase the pan flow of the dough. This breaks the long protein chains into smaller units.


This is soy flour which has not been heat-treated as much as other soy flours to retain some of its enzymes. The bleaching agents on the carotenoid pigments of flour give a whiter crumb color. The FDA’s maximum usage level is .5% based on flour weight.


Soy flour is found as a “low fat” soy in bread doughs at a 1-3% level, and a “full fat” soy in sweet goods up to 12%. Soy flour is approximately 50% protein, and therefore, is nutritionally advantageous.


Oxidizing agents are used by the baker to improve dough strength by creating bonds between the protein chains. They will improve dough handling for better machining and contribute to improved gas retention giving better volume and tighter grain to the finished product. Some oxidants are fast acting, working in the mixer and early make-up stage, while ascorbic acid is late acting, working in the proofer and early oven stage.


This is an oxidant, but is used for its dough drying capabilities. It takes away the stickiness without stiffening the dough. Usage levels are 20 to 40 ppm. It should be added with the other dry ingredients because it reacts immediately on contact with water.


Reducing agents are used to weaken the protein, reducing the mixing times and improving dough machinabilitly. L-cysteine is the most common reducing agent used in the United States today. About a 20 to 40 ppm usage level will give a 10-20% reduction in mix time.


This refers to a group of emulsifiers which predominantly function in dough by bonding with the protein. They improve the gluten’s strength to give the finished loaf better volume, symmetry, texture and grain.


Crumb Softeners refer to a group of emulsifiers which predominantly function in dough by bonding with the starches. They will slow down the crumb firming of a product extending its shelf life.

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