Enzymes are used to reduce mix times, increase oxidation and improve machinability in baked goods.


What are Enzymes?

The origin of the word enzyme is derived from the Greek word ‘En-zyma’ (enzumon) meaning ‘in yeast.’ Enzymes are protein catalysts, from biological sources. All enzymes have a unique macromolecular three dimensional structure, making them specific to one particular substrate, facilitating one unique reaction.

Enzymes - 3D structure of Human salivary amylase

3 D structure of Human salivary amylase *¹

Enzymes - 3D structure of Aqualysin (protease)

3D structure of Aqualysin (protease)

Enzymes are naturally present in all biological systems. They can be selectively isolated from plants, animals and microorganisms. In high-automation environments, enzymes have a central role in baking technology1. They have been used to reduce mixing times, manage the fermentation speed and dough stability, increase oxidation and improve machinability. Enzymes have also been known to affect the entire baked goods spectrum, from improving the texture of ready-to-eat baked goods, to frozen storage of par-baked goods2.

Video on the basics of food enzymes from EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) → Reference²


Diastatic malt is a natural source of (a-amylase) enzymes produced through germination of barley wheat. Other enzymes are produced from bacteria or fungi sources through a fermentation process. Enzymes are naturally present in wheat flour and yeast.


Enzymes are substrate specific. This means a certain enzyme is shaped as such that it will only work on a specific substrate . For example, alpha amylase will only hydrolyze starch molecules and completely ignore protein and lipid molecules. Providing good working conditions for these enzymes will help them function properly in a bakery system. The most important parameters to take into account when using enzymes are pH, temperature and time. Enzymes function best in the range 30oC to 40oC (86oF to 104oF) and are usually destroyed at temperatures above 45oC (113oF).

Enzymes denaturated at high temperatures

Most enzymes are being denaturated at temperatures above 45°C

Advantages of enzyme use in bakery formulations:

  1. Stable cost – Enzyme costs have not increased much over the last 10 years. This is in contrast with the increasing costs of emulsifiers that is dependent upon by tight oil markets.
  2. Stabilize flour quality – Enzymes help to stabilize the variation in wheat quality. Depending on the climatological conditions and types of flour, the flour characteristics can be very different.
  3. Clean Label – Since enzymes are deactivated during the baking process, they are considered as a ‘Technical aid’ in the bread manufacturing and they usually don’t have to be labelled on the final product. The enzyme remains present in the final product as a non-active denaturated protein and does not have an activity in the final bread.
  4. Texture – Enzymes can improve the texture parameters of the final bread application. They can make the bread crumb softer, moister and more pleasant to eat.
  5. Ease of Use – Enzymes are very easy and safe to use in dry ingredient formulations. They remain stable for long periods of time.
  6. Flexibility – Various combinations give ingredient formulators great flexibility

Types of enzymes

  1. Hemicellulase, xylanase and pentosanase – work on different parts of the insoluble hemicellulose part of the starch. This leads to greater extensibility and stability of dough, and in turn, produces greater oven spring and volume.
  2. Cellulase – breaks cellulose fibrils into smaller/shorter units. Degradation of cellulose by these enzymes aids in absorption of water, especially when using whole grain. Cellulase can improve machinability by drying dough.
  3. Amylase – converts starch to maltose and other simple sugars. There are several sub-classes of amylases. Alpha-amylase was the first commercial enzyme and is commonly added to flour at the mill to standardize performance. It provides yeast with a consistent source of sugars for fermentation and darkens the crust color from increased sugars. Maltogenic amylases can be used to improve the freshness of the final bakery goods. For example they can provide a better softness, moistness and resilience in your final product.

    Amylase's effect on crust.

    The more amylase is added, the darker the crust will be of the final bread.

  4. Protease – converts large protein molecules to smaller amino acid chains. Proteases can breakdown gluten proteins in overly strong or high-protein flours. This can improve sheeting and machining in products like crackers.
  5. Lipases & Phospholipases – convert lipids and phospholipids natively present in wheat flour into monoglycerides, diglycerides and free fatty acids. Lipases can provide an improved crumb structure in your final product while phospholipases improve the dough stability and the bread volume.
  6. Transglutaminase – builds cross links between glutamine and lysine. This cross-linking of amino acids helps strengthen the gluten matrix, and in turn, provides improved volume and stability to breads.
  7. Oxidative Enzymes (Glucose Oxidase, Peroxidase, Lipoxygenase) – catalyzes the substrate to create natural oxidation which increase di-sulfide bridges to strengthen gluten matrix and dough. Provides similar function as ascorbic acid, and is a key ingredient for replacing azodicarbonamide (ADA).
  8. Asperaginase – hydrolyzes asperagene resulting in the reduction of acrylamides a potential carcinogen


  1. Linko, Yu-Yen, Päivi Javanainen, and Susan Linko. “Biotechnology of bread baking.” Trends in Food Science & Technology 8.10 (1997): 339-344.
  2. Almeida, Eveline Lopes, and Yoon Kil Chang. “Influence of Different Enzymes during the Frozen Storage of Pre‐Baked French Bread Elaborated with Whole‐wheat Flour.” Journal of Food Processing and Preservation 38.3 (2014): 737-748.
  3. Saranraj, P., and Stella, “Fungal Amylase a Review”. International Journal of microbiological research 2(2013):203-211.
  4. Gerits, Lien R., Bram Pareyt, Karolien Decamps, and Jan A. Delcour. “Lipases and Their Functionality in the Production of Wheat‐Based Food Systems.” Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety 13.5 (2014): 978-989.

Added References