Also known as dough improvers or strengtheners
What are Dough Conditioners?
Dough conditioners are ingredients that improve dough processing, as well as the overall quality of baked products in high-speed production environments. They are available as concentrates or dry mixes. Most often, they're found in no time dough/straight dough systems.
Dough conditioners usually contain multiple individual ingredients for specific functions. Some examples are:
- pH regulators
- Mineral yeast food
- Redox agents
- Vital wheat gluten (VWG)
In the 1950s, the first dough conditioners came on the market in the form of pastes and liquid preparations. Then, powdered versions followed shortly after. These allowed for easier dosing and accurate scaling. In the 1980s, advances in functional enzymes became a key focus for improving dough handling and bread properties.
Dough conditioners can help improve:1
- Dough handling properties
- Gas production by yeast
- Gas retention by gluten matrix
- Volume of baked goods
- Crumb structure and texture
- Crust development and color
- Product general appearance and symmetry
- Sliceability of the baked product
- Shelf-life by delaying the onset of staling
Nutrition and health
Dough conditioners have a technological function in the dough. They are considered processing aids. So, they are present in minute amounts in the finished product. Dough conditioners do not contribute to nutrients or caloric content in human diet.2 However, vital wheat gluten adds some protein. 1 g of VWG provides 0.6 g of protein.
Clean label trends in food has spurred high-speed bakers to use alternative ingredients. So, clean label dough conditioning options include organic acids, natural reducing and oxidizing agents, hydrolases and long dough fermentations.
Dough conditioners are produced as fine, food-grade ingredients. For example, enzymes can be produced through industrial fermentations using food-grade microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. They can also be extracted and purified from animal or plant sources. However, they are more expensive than their chemical-based counterparts.3
Dough conditioners help with:
- Consistent outcome and quality
- Mechanical dough processing
- Optimizing the supply chain
Dough conditioner mixes are usually added at 0.5–4.0%, based on flour weight. Whole wheat and high fiber breads generally require higher amounts of dough conditioners. This is to compensate for their lack of proper gluten development, and for optimum dough handling properties.