A quality control instrument for flour from French firm Chopin Technologies could play a key role in ensuring flour performance matches customers' expectations in a finished product, attendees heard at a recent conference in Paris.
While flour millers may have met the correct specifications of their customers when formulating their flour, on occasions the product may not perform in the correct manner.
"We want to judge the flour based on the end application need, and would like to carry out a benchmark analysis without having to bake the bread," Scott Frazer, from agri-giant Cargill, USA, told the audience.
Frazer claims the Mixolab technology from Chopin tells "us why the bread is bad, and what we can do to fix it".
"While the percentage of protein continues to be a standard measure for flour strength, we can compare that protein content with the flour's water absorption, starch gelatinisation strength and enzyme activity," he continued.
Using Mixolab, Frazer added that Cargill can also determine if these key functionality parameters are "consistent from batch to batch".
He explained that different flour customers have different protein expectations and capacity for water absorption. As the protein increases, technologists expect starch strength – and viscosity – to lessen as it gelatinises.
Further, adding ingredients – such as salt, sugar or high fructose corn syrup – into the bake mix "usually gives a lower viscosity".
"With Mixolab I can add each ingredient and look at the impact of individual ingredients and how they impact the profile of the final mix," said the Cargill employee.
Bakers using harder or softer water – that strengthens or weakens gluten respectively – may notice a change in their bread formulations following any changes to their water supplies. "With Mixolab we can run a profile, and pinpoint if the changes are due to alterations in water," added Frazer.
He suggests the instrument could also be a useful tool in product development because the instrument can “figure out” dough chemistry.
Cargill has also used the tool on corn and intends to investigate different wheat. Frazer cited the growing demand from customers, and consumers, for multigrains, which are becoming a “big deal”.
Riding the health wave, the surge in popularity for multigrain breads is leading millers and bakers to take a closer look at the impact multigrains may have on dough chemistry.
Turning low quality wheat into higher value
Mixolab, from the French firm that claims its instruments are working in "99 per cent of the world", is a flour and dough mixer that "is like a high speed car, but needs a good driver", said conference speaker Fuduli from Romanian bakery player Vel Pitar, which supplies over two million customers a day.
Fuduli stated that mastering the Mixolab had helped the firm "reach a targeted quality and consistency" that contributed to the company emerging as the number one in Romania for "both our flours and bakery products".
A key problem for bakers in Romania is low – or very low – quality wheat, said the Romanian miller, but he asserted that now the firm can produce and offer to the market a good quality flour.