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If you think guar gum has become an expensive way to appealing par-baked bread, we’ve checked out the alternatives.

The rocketing price of guar gum has set alarm bells ringing right through the food industry, with this once highly affordable ingredient today costing five times more than just a year ago.

For those of us working with par-baked bread, guar gum has long been the stabiliser of choice for minimising folding – the surface wrinkling that commonly occurs after the first baking.

Now the ingredient’s sudden scarcity has sparked a search for an alternative capable of securing the smooth appearance that most consumers find appealing.

Collapse of the crumb
Folding is one of the issues that makes par-baked bread manufacture a complex task. After the first baking, the bread ‘crust’ is still only a skin, without the strength to keep the crumb structure in shape. If crumb instability is combined with a slow cooling process, the crumb is likely to collapse slightly, causing folding in the surface skin and increasing the risk of flake-off.

Combating folding requires a stable crumb that is more compact than conventional bread while remaining soft. Until now, guar gum has been an ideal solution.

Promising lab tests
We have put a number of potential substitutes to the test in our bakery lab, including cellulose gum, xanthan gum, locust bean gum and several combinations. Of them, it is actually the most cost-effective that has demonstrated the best non-folding performance – cellulose gum.

Compared to guar, our tests have found that cellulose gum can offer an extra advantage. While guar, with its gel-like structure, only has the ability to stabilise, cellulose gum provides both stability and flexibility.

The result is both an attractive, smooth surface and higher volume, as the flexibility facilitates the proofing process.

A single ‘but’
There is just one potential drawback to keep an eye on if your par-baked bread recipe makes use of cellulase enzymes for improved dough machinability. If a long proofing time is required, the cellulose gum will gradually break down, leading to an unstable crumb and low volume. But this is only a problem if the par-baking process exceeds five to six hours.

From our tests, the general impression is that cellulose gum makes an efficient guar gum alternative in par-baked bread – overcoming folding, increasing volume and putting you back in control of stabiliser costs.

We tested Cellulose gum, Locust bean gum and Xanthan gum from the DuPont™ Danisco® range.