By Andy Flounders, senior bakery application specialist
Variations in flour quality are no obstacle when producing consistent burger buns for international fast food chains.
Whether you visit an international burger chain in London, Cape Town or Riyadh, you probably expect the quality of the food to be more or less the same. For the local suppliers, though, meeting that expectation can be their biggest challenge. How can they meet a global standard when the quality of their raw materials typically varies widely?
The flour used in burger buns is a good example. No country in the world produces flour of identical quality. In the growing bakery markets of the Middle East and Africa, which often rely on wheat imports, fluctuating flour quality is a real problem when producing burger buns with a consistent shape and size.
At DuPont, we have experienced that the rise of fast food chains in these markets has brought more and more enquiries about possible solutions.
Strengthening fragile dough
A typical issue for industrial bakers is fragile dough, caused when the flour they use is low in gluten and high in bran. This means there is a high risk of dough collapse on the production line. Our task is then to develop functional ingredient solutions that can standardize the flour and strengthen the dough.
DATEM (diacetyl tartaric acid ester of mono- and diglycerides) is one of the emulsifiers most widely used for strengthening bread dough. By binding the gluten in the flour, it helps build the gluten network that, in turn, retains the CO2 produced during proofing – making the dough less likely to collapse.
When baking with a weak flour, it can be an advantage to use a combination of emulsifiers with a complementary effect. Sodium stearoyl lactylate (SSL) is a good option, as it both supports the strengthening effect of the DATEM and softens the burger bun crumb.
The gluten network benefits further from the addition of ascorbic acid, which catalyzes a chemical reaction as soon as it comes into contact with water – tightening the network and improving its retention of CO2.
Great functional partners
As described previously in Bakery Performance, enzymes and emulsifiers make great partners in functional ingredient solutions that strengthen, soften and slow down the bread staling process. We often recommend a tailored enzyme blend of protease, lipase, xylanase and alpha-amylase for burger buns with a required minimum shelf life of two weeks.
Adding all those functional ingredients individually and at the right dose can be pretty complex. For that very reason, we often deliver solutions in the form of a tailored blend. All the bakery has to do is add it with the rest of the ingredients.
Once the variations in flour quality have been ironed out, it matters much less where burger buns are being produced. The burgers we eat in international fast food chains are almost guaranteed to make the same grade.