When sugar is reduced in baked goods, flavor challenges arise

Dec 4, 2020, 09:35 AM by Donna Berry

baking business

Sugar reduction in baked goods, especially those with other better-for-you ingredients and claims, can be a tricky puzzle to solve. But with a robust stable of sweeteners, flavor modifiers and other ingredients, formulators can put the pieces together to create a great-tasting, reduced-sugar product.

Bars, muffins and even cookies with value-added nutrition fulfill the demand for permissible indulgence, products that consumers feel less guilty about enjoying because of their added health benefits or clean labels. Snacks with double-digit protein claims, for example, are popular, but the proteins used in grain-based bakery bases can taste very bitter.

“Adding a bitter masker to the blend allows for a more uniform flavor,” said Hanna Santoro, senior scientist, baking development and applications, ADM. “Ancient grains, such as quinoa, millet or pulses, can also contribute a bitter taste experience. Our masking solution is customized to create a grain note that has a finish closer to traditional wheat flours.”

In combination with starch and gum systems, this technology mimics the functionality of wheat flour. This allows a baker to replace most, if not all, wheat flour in a recipe with alternative grains or pulses and still deliver a comparable-tasting finished product.

“Masking is often required when we reduce sugar in baked goods because the grain notes and other components in the product become unbalanced in flavor,” said Shari Mahon, chief of global flavor application technology, Sweegen. “When reducing sugar in a whole wheat bran muffin, for example, natural flavors help mitigate the bitterness, reduce the astringency and cut the linger to bring the balance of the product back to a full-sugar profile. We may also add sweet enhancers to mimic a brown sugar-type note."

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