Baking bread for the keto diet.

The keto (or ketogenic) diet is a fast-growing weight loss dietary trend that is raising the demand for low carb, nutritional-packed baked goods. With the market projected to reach revenues of 14.75 billion USD by 2027,  there is a growing space for bakers to innovate with keto products.

The history of keto

In 1925, an anthropologist named Vilhjalmur Stefansso started living on a meat-based low carbohydrate diet after his Arctic expedition. The diet was designed in the 1920s for treating refractory epilepsy in the USA. Keto diet results in similar physiological effects as fasting and reduces the incidence of epileptic seizures and controls it for a longer time. This was mainly regarded as a field of dietary research until the 1970s when researcher Peter Huttenlocher devised and investigated the keto diet. A similar approach is followed by the Paleo and Atkins diets.

Limitations of baking for the keto diet

A standard method to produce low-carb bread is to replace wheat flour completely. If there is no gluten addition, keto products can also serve as a solution for gluten-free foods. Most wheat flour replacements and ingredients utilized in keto baked goods come from gluten-free sources. These ingredients do not relate to any Triticum species or other potentially gluten-containing cereals.

The most common challenges in keto baking include variations in:

  • Dough rheology
  • Lower loaf volumes
  • Crumb grain
  • Texture
  • Flavor
  • Open crumb grain
  • Tunnelling (presence of holes)
  • Gummy mouthfeel

Wheat-based keto baking

Wheat gluten, an essential baking ingredient, is not a carbohydrate and can be used in keto baking. The dietary fiber, proteins, alternative sweeteners, or water replace simple sugars and starches. To learn more about this approach, download this free technical paper.

Recommendations for processing solutions

  • Mixing: it is imperative to limit any egg-white contamination with butter, as fat can cause the egg white foam to break down and lose the property to entrap air. Stringent sanitation methods should be employed for equipment, process tools, and utensils. The high amount of wheat proteins in keto bread baking will require proper hydration and a more extended mix of gluten.
  • Baking: thermal profiling is an excellent tool for monitoring and controlling the baking process. The correlation between oven condition (timing/temperature) and microbial inactivation, crumb set, and color formation understanding is crucial. It is essential due to the alternative formulation compared to traditional bread.
  • Fermentation: the baker needs to plan for additional time during the fermentation process because of the lack of sugar or other nutrients required by the yeast to leaven the dough.

The ingredient solutions for low carbohydrate solutions include proteins: dietary fibers, artificial sweeteners. A guide for developing a formulation with sugar and starch replacement is available to read here.