Unlike dough made from wheat flour, gluten-free dough does not easily form into a smooth ball because it lacks this important binder. That poses a challenge for dough and can also pose a
challenge before final baking.
For frozen or chilled dough products such as cookies, pizzas and
breadsticks, the result after baking tends to be softer or chewier than
people might expect. For soft cookies that might be acceptable. But
crispy, thin-crust pizza is more difficult to achieve with sticky dough.
During processing, dough that sticks to mixer blades and the sides
of mixing/blending equipment can increase cycle times. Thorough
mixing can become more difficult with gluten-free products, yet overmixing can impact dough quality and the texture of the finished baked
product. At the same time, stickiness can contribute to yield losses
per batch. Losses of just 2-3 percent can add up. Equally important,
stickier dough can put a drag on downstream forming or processing operations — increasing process variability and contributing to
unnecessary downtime, waste, and inefficiency.
Chilling with ice at the mixer, especially bagged ice, is inherently
prone to batch variation and increased labor, and that is a special
challenge for bakeries scaling up. Tight temperature control before or
during mixing can help alleviate these issues for faster cycle times,
more repeatable operations, better dough handling characteristics,
and more consistent quality of the finished product. With the proper
know-how and engineering, processors can usually achieve such
results cost-effectively with cryogenic chilling technology.
A new, in-line cryogenic injection system can chill flour and other
dry ingredients to within +/- 1 degree F of a setpoint as they travel
from the silo to the mixer/blender. For dough processing, chilling dry
ingredients as they are pneumatically conveyed is almost always
preferred over batch chilling with ice at the mixer. New dry-ingredient
chilling systems can provide upgrades over older chilling methods, or
can be easily retrofitted to replace an older cryogenic system.
Leading technology suppliers can customize dry ingredient chilling
systems to meet plant-specific requirements. Prior to system installation, operating parameters for any new ingredient can be validated
at a test laboratory. Dough and baking operations should always consider an engineered flour-chilling system when facing a major upshift
in demand or planning an expansion, or whenever specifying a new
silo or dry-ingredient pneumatic conveyor system.
Bottom-Up Chilling Approach
Another alternative to any top-chilling method at the mixer is
to inject liquid nitrogen or carbon dioxide (CO2) from the bottom.
Cryogenic bottom-injection (BI) systems are designed to use the
cryogen more efficiently than chilling with dry ice pellets or even CO2
snow from the top. The liquid cryogen is injected into
food as it is mixing, and the cryogen captures addi-
tional BTUs in the phase change from liquid to gas, or
liquid to solid to gas with CO2.
Bottom injection systems have proven widely suc-
cessful in the meat and poultry industry for chilling
ground protein and fat during blending. If not properly
chilled, fat can smear. Just as in the baking industry,
more consistent temperature control in
batch mixing can mean more consistent
forming and handling downstream — and
better finished product quality.
Advanced BI chilling systems can be
installed when purchasing a new mixer/
blender, or retrofitted to existing mixer/blenders. Design is key.
Advanced systems are always customized to maximize processing
efficiency, and these usually start with an in-plant assessment.
In the baking industry, gluten flour doughs can also be sticky,
and mixing operations can benefit from the same cryogenic chilling
advantages. Mixing is the first and most important stage of dough
processing. During ingredient mixing, both the development of the
dough and the dough temperature are established. If either are not
tightly controlled, product quality will suffer.
Developing the gluten network through the dough requires adding energy and thorough mixing with the water and flour. The art is
to develop the proper consistency so the dough will have excellent
machinability as well as gas retention properties.
When wheat flour is removed for a gluten-free recipe, other binders or combinations are added instead, though trying to match the
overall performance of gluten can always pose a challenge.
Gluten-Free Health Trend
Many consumers perceive “gluten-free” as healthy. So it is not surprising that gluten-free claims are extending to other food segments
beyond bakeries and makers of dough products1. Picking up on the
gluten-free trend, Smashburger started using gluten-free buns2, and
Oscar Mayer now adds the claim to labels of qualifying products3.
Gluten also finds its way into processed meat products in mari-
nades and batter, as well as many binders, fillers and extenders.
Hidden sources of gluten can include: spices and flavorings, caramel
color, modified food starch, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, soy sauce,
malt and maltodextrin. There are many gluten-free starches available.
Starches bind moisture, provide heat and sheer stability, improve
freeze/thaw stability and can enhance texture1.
While Celiac disease only affects an estimated 1 in 100 people
worldwide, 2. 5 million Americans are undiagnosed and at risk for
long-term health complications. The autoimmune disorder can occur
in genetically predisposed people where ingestion of gluten leads to
damage in the small intestine. Gluten-free diets are not just for those
with Celiac disease, but also those with gluten sensitivity. According to
a Mayo Clinic study, 1.8 million Americans have been diagnosed with
Celiac disease, while another 1.6 million follow a gluten-free diet even
though they haven't been diagnosed4. A survey by the NPD Group
reports 11 percent of U.S. households include at least one person fol-
lowing a gluten-free diet, yet only about a quarter of those households
identify Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity as the reason.
Gluten-Free Trend Poses ‘Sticky’ Issue for Dough
1 Jeff Gelski, “Report finds people view gluten-free items as healthy,”
FoodBusinessNews.com, May 30, 2013.
2 Monica Watrous, “Smashburger goes
gluten-free,” FoodBusinessNews.com. May 8, 2014.
3 Donna Berry, “Gluten-free
meat,” FoodBusinessNews.com. Oct. 19, 2013.
4 “Gluten-free diet fad: Are celiac
disease rates actually rising?” CBSNews.com. July 31, 2012.