Since their modern form’s arrival to the baking industry in the 1950s, dough conditioners have helped us make better, more reliable dough and products. They cover a pretty wide range of ingredients, from strengtheners to improvers.
No matter which ones (or combination of ones) you use, they should be accomplishing three main targets for you.
- Consistent outcome and quality: When you’re baking with ingredients like yeast or sourdough, you’re faced with plenty of variables. And don’t forget factors like temperature or humidity. Dough conditioners help stabilize these variables and more so you can bake consistently with less waste.
- Mechanical dough processing: If you’re looking for a way to balance floor time so your dough develops properly, you’re looking for dough conditioners. They will help with oxidation and optimal processing.
- Optimizing the supply chain: Extend the shelf life of frozen dough and packaged goods. Strengthen fermented doughs. Optimize freshness, volume and more.
Types of dough conditioners
The following elements are typical ingredients that are used in dough conditioners, alone or in combination with each other.
1. Oxidizing agents oxidizes the free sulfhydryl groups of gluten to form disulfide bonds, resulting in a more cross-linked protein structure, hence a stronger gluten network with more gas retention capacity. Examples are ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide (ADA), potassium iodate and potassium bromate.
2. Reducing agents have a reactive sulfhydryl group capable of dissociating the disulfide bonds in gluten, making the proteins more extensible. Typical reducing agents are cysteine, metabisulphite, denaturated yeast and modified gluten.
3. Yeast nutrients like ammonium sulphate are supporting yeast growth, especially in sponge & dough and long fermentation processes. As a result, more carbon dioxide gas is produced.
4. pH regulators adjust the pH and mineral balance in water allowing a better gluten bounding (e.g. calcium carbonate, calcium sulphate, mono calcium phosphate).
5. Emulsifiers are surface active agents. For example, mono-glycerides and SSL (Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate) binds with the starch molecule, resulting in less starch retrogradation and a softer crumb.4 Other emulsifiers increase gluten binding, resulting in a higher dough tolerance and more volume (e.g. DATEM).
6. Enzymes used in baking are proteins from a biological source that typically break down specific substrate molecules (starch, proteins, lipids, etc.) of flour, changing properties of dough formation and bread properties.5
7. Vital wheat gluten is usually added to increase the total quality and quantity of protein in the dough.
8. Other ingredients: preservatives, sugar, oils (as anti-dust or as carrier in case of paste improvers), starches, salt.