As operators continue to health-ify their dining operations, the bakery case, traditionally a platform for indulgence, has become a showcase for new, more nutritious baked goods. Inhouse bakeshops have begun to rethink—and in many cases, reformulate—product lines with enhanced offerings appealing to the demands for better-for-you bakery foods.
In the last few years, manufacturers have also responded to the trend with a slew of new product launches that can help onsite bakeshops better meet customer demands. Premixed whole grain flour blends, trans-fat free shortenings, whole white wheat breads, and sugar and/or gluten free flours and mixes are becoming more readily available to operators.
Whole Hearted Baking
"Rising health concerns prompted us to reformulate our bakery items a couple of years ago," says Kenneth Cardone, associate director and executive chef at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME. "We have a responsibility to offer healthful choices wherever possible. Baked goods are no exception."
The science of whole grain baking—baking with whole grain flour—is considerably different than baking with traditional white flour. In most cases, switching all the way to whole wheat will produce an end product that is much too dense.
"It's important to understand the effect that whole wheat will have on a dough," says Tim Huff, technical services manager with General Mills.
"Whole wheat flour will weaken the gluten structure of a dough, therefore making it less tolerant to mix and fermentation time. The issue is that the bran flakes in the whole wheat flour act like little razor blades and cut up the gluten structure while mixing. This ‘cutting' deteriorates the strength of the gluten and therefore yields a heavier product if no adjustments are made."
When using whole wheat flour, Huff suggests starting with 10-20% mix and working up from there. "Whole wheat will generally take up more water and require less mix time, so be aware of this as you process your dough." (Editors Note: bakers might also need to increase the sweetener levels to balance the stronger, nuttier flavor of whole wheat.)
For operators without inhouse bakeshops who are looking to incorporate more whole grain products into their operations, manufactures have developed various lines of whole grain products (pizza dough, tortillas, breads, etc.) that are nearly indistinguishable in taste, texture and appearance from their previous refined grain counterparts.
Land of the free
Switching to reduced- or trans-fat free shortenings and oils is not without its own set of challenges.
Trans fat alternatives raise a unique set of issues for operators, a combination of sourcing, cost concerns, nutrition trade-offs and functionality. But at the same time, eliminating them addresses one of the biggest health concerns many consumers have today.
In baked goods, traditional shortenings play an important role in eating quality (tenderness/texture, lubrication, shelf life, flavoring), structure (aeration, lamination, dough strength, geometry), and processing (heat transfer medium, machine-ability).
Since many trans fat alternatives cannot replicate the functional properties of hydrogenated fats, their substitution often requires time-consuming reformulations.
That's not to say it's impossible.
For example, Bowdoin College has been hard at work over the last year reformulating its baked goods.
"We did a lot of testing and experimenting to see what trans-fat free product might work in our bakery," says Cardone. "We had to alter some of our formulations—more flour here, less mix time there. We think it is well worth the time and expense to produce a quality end product that is now more healthful."
Schools, like Pinellas County School District in Largo, FL, for example, are anticipating government regulations to eliminate trans-fats from foods on the menu and have already begun reformulating foods to eliminate these types of fats. According to Katherine Girard, nutrition education specialist/menu planner for the district, the student response to the reformulated products has been overwhelmingly positive.
"Given enough lead time, we can find a product that works for our operation," says Girard.
One trans fat alternative will not always provide consistent results in every bakery food, and many suppliers of reduced- or notrans fat shortenings and oils have developed multiple product lines that address the issue of functionality in most baking categories that rely on shortenings and oils.
Operators limited to one product line have developed tricks-of-the-trade to make these products work across the menu.
"We use a trans fat free product that is very dense," says Patrick Brideau, executive chef at Phillips Exeter (NH) Academy. "In order to make it more pliable in doughs and batters, we first whip it."
Good Things, Small Packages
Other operators looking for more healthful baked goods have opted for smaller serving sizes using high-intensity ingredients like dark chocolate, fresh berries, fruit compotes, roasted fruit and reduced sauces and syrups.
"Our research suggests that customers in the business dining segment want smaller portions of desserts to satisfy their sweet tooth, but not overwhelm their calorie load," says Bill Mitchell, senior director national program development for Sodexho.
Enter Sweet Shots—smaller portion desserts served in 5 oz. shot glasses. "It amounts to roughly 5 bites depending on the size of your spoon," says Mitchell. Flavors include everything from strawberry shortcake and tiramisu to Oreo cookie mocha and mango key lime pie. At an average of 200 calories per shot, the desserts are "just enough to make your day," he adds.
At Maine Medical Center in Portland, Mary Keysor, director of food and nutrition services, reduced the size of muffins to promote more healthful portioning. "When I first cut the muffin size, there was a little grumping from customers," she explains.
"Once we explained the benefits of proper portioning, customers recognized that they didn't need an oversized muffin. And that we were helping them make better, more sound, nutritional decisions."
| Healthy Substitutions |
• Whenever possible, substitute skim milk or low fat milk for whole milk.
• Use a fat-free egg product or 2 egg whites for each egg. This will help decrease the cholesterol content.
• In fruit pies, if the fruit itself is sweet enough, cut back on the amount of sugar.
• Substitute yogurt for milk or sour cream.
• Use dates, dried fruit, or fruit puree instead of sugar to sweeten baked goods.
• If a recipe calls for light cream, try using evaporated skim milk.
• Use a low-calorie version of a product.
• Applesauce and plain yogurt are good fat substitutes in most recipes. For maximum texture and flavor, replace no more than half the amount of the fat listed in the recipe.
• Mashed, ripe bananas work well as fat substitutes in carrot or banana cake or muffins.
• If a recipe calls for baking chocolate try using cocoa and oil. (1 oz. of baking chocolate=3 Tbsps. cocoa powder and 1 Tbsp. of oil).
PHOTO BY GENERAL MILLS FOODSERVICE