JUNE 2004--With so many products vying for limited refrigerator and freezer space, food developers need to make certain their products outperform those of the competition. Characteristics like volume, taste, texture and appearance are among the most important. The right chemical leavening system can help formulators achieve these characteristics, while providing significant processing efficiency benefits.

Both yeast and chemical leavening systems can be employed when leavening baked products. While refrigerated and frozen dough have become a popular addition to product lines, the ability of yeast to sufficiently leaven dough is often weakened after freezing. To remedy this problem, Astaris LLC's (St. Louis) R&D team introduced the EZ Dough[tm] chemical leavening system, which can be used either in addition to (or as a replacement for) yeast, to provide a protected and predictable leavening method. This system incorporates Astaris' Levn-Lite[r] technology, a heat-activated leavener that prevents premature leavening.

Yeast is vulnerable to freezing conditions. Because chemical leavening agents do not contain living organisms, they can tolerate freeze/thaw conditions. This ensures that dough will consistently bake to peak volume, while providing ideal texture and structural strength.

“The increasing variety and enhanced quality of frozen dough products, such as cinnamon rolls, pocket sandwiches and breakfast pastries that can go from freezer to microwave to table in less than five minutes, have catapulted sales in this market,” says Barbara Heidolph, market development manager--food, at Astaris. “Chemical leavening agents are responsible for much of this growth.”

By incorporating chemical leavening technologies into dough formulations, processors can reduce the need for fermentation and proofing. This shortens processing cycles and improves productivity. More efficient batch processing also can be achieved, due to increased bench tolerance, or the ability to hold and process larger dough volumes.

Chemical leavening also reduces costs by minimizing waste, energy and labor while increasing throughput. This results in significant savings in conversion costs, which can account for 30% to 40% of overall product costs. By enabling longer holding times at room temperature, chemical leavening prevents products from going to waste in the event of a line failure at wholesale baking plants. In foodservice applications, dough products can be carried over when sales are less than predicted.

Overcoming the challenges of formulating low-carbohydrate yeast leavened products is not easy. Yeast relies on carbohydrate sugars to fuel fermentation, proofing and leavening processes. In a low-carbohydrate environment, products often experience diminished fermentation, proofing and leavening. This is due to reduced yeast activity causing a deficiency in carbon dioxide, which is necessary for these processes to ensue. By supplementing dough systems with a chemical leavener, processors can achieve the characteristics of traditional dough products in a lower-carbohydrate formulation.

Contact Information:

Astaris LLC, Barbara Heidolph

314-983-7940, barbara_b_heidolph@astaris.com