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Xylanase breakthrough promises better baking

By Catherine Boal , 19-Oct-2006

The incorporation of the baking ingredient xylanase which improves the quality of bread but is frequently inhibited by wheat could now become easier for bakers following research into the problem.

Xylanase enzymes improve bread's volume and crumb structure by maximising gluten performance and solubilising polysaccharides in the wheat cell wall.

However, their use in baking is problematic due to the sensitivity of the ingredient when combined with wheat and, in the past, bakers have been forced to use a system of trial and error to determine how much xylanase can be included in the recipe before becoming redundant.

In order to help bakers determine these quantities, the UK Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association (CCFRA) has developed tests to determine the exact ratio needed to obtain optimum results from the improver.

CCFRA researcher Neal Matthews told bakeryandsnacks.com: "It is particularly an issue in bread baking. All wheat varieties inhibit xylanase so at the moment it is a bit hit and miss with getting the dosage correct."

The tests involve a comparison of how different wheat varieties react with xylanase as well as how its activity is affected by different harvest years.

Research behind the tests began this month with the organisation expected to publish the results sometime in November.

German ingredients firm AB Enzymes produced the first ever Xylanase for baking more than 30 years ago, sparking huge changes in the international baking industry.

Today most baked goods on shelves are made with the help of the compound, as it is considered by many to be the most important enzyme for baking applications in terms of dough properties and baking quality.

According to market analyst group Frost and Sullivan, the market for bakery enzymes was valued at €32.7 million ($42.1 million) in 2003 and is expected to reach €53.3 million by 2010.

In addition, a recent study from researchers Freedonia suggests global demand for enzymes will rise 6.5 per cent year on year to nearly €4.15 billion.

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