It’s full steam ahead to bake healthier treats

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Steam baking can be a game-changer for bakers wanting to appeal to the growing group of health-conscious consumers. Pic: GettyImages/LightFieldStudios
Steam baking can be a game-changer for bakers wanting to appeal to the growing group of health-conscious consumers. Pic: GettyImages/LightFieldStudios

Related tags S&S Baking Solutions steam baking steaming better-for-you Gluten Shelf life moisture HFSS crust crumb

Steam takes baking to a whole new level, reducing costs for the baker, improving sustainability and more importantly, resulting in better-for-you baked goods.

The science of steam explained in 30 seconds

1. Steaming causes starch granules to swell and burst, which creates a softer dough. It also improves the solubility of the gluten protein, while weaking its structure, resulting in a more tender crumb. In fact, numerous studies have found that steaming wheat flour for 5 minutes denatures the gluten content, while flour that had been steamed for 15-30 minutes did not form gluten. It also reduces the dough’s water absorption capacity from 58% to 45%, extending the shelf life of baked goods.

2. Research supports steaming’s effectiveness in creating a uniformly cooked, tender cake, preserving its moisture and improving its texture.

3. Pre-steaming before frying can reduce oil absorption, a trend that is fast gaining traction among doughnut makers.

4. Steam creates a moist environment that keeps the outer crust of bread softer for longer, allowing it to expand before it firms up. Steam also helps to create a shiny loaf with a truly crisp crust and a light interior.

Steaming as a technique has actually been practiced for thousands of years, dating back as far as 3000 B.C. in Asia. In 2012, a group of villagers in China’s Shaanxi Province stumbled upon caches of ancient bronze vessels while doing construction work. Since then, archaeologists have unearthed ancient vessels known as Yan steamers, used particularly to steam grain during the Zhou dynasty (1111-255 BC).

​With global obesity rates on the rise, government intervention is placing pressure on the food industry to come up with healthier choices for the consumer. This includes the bakery sector, often perceived as a leading producer of treats that are high in fat, salt and sugar.

Stepping up the game

Steaming baked goods can be a game-changer, but the technique is yet to make its mark. Striving to change the status quo, though, is S&S Baking Solutions.

Founded by brothers Hoyte and Matthijs Sillevis Smitt, The Netherlands equipment specialist is passionate about steam bakery innovations that make a notable difference – not only in contributing towards consumer health, but also in helping industrial-scale bakeries to improve their operations, increase efficiency and slash waste.

S&S The brothers
Hoyte and Matthijs Sillevis Smitt

While S&S’s expert team is composed of food technologists, bakery R&D specialists, food process engineers and equipment builders, it also taps a broad global network in the bakery sector to design innovations that are on trend and on point. As such, it has become a leading player in the space, transforming the industry with its cutting-edge turnkey solutions, which can be scaled up to steam up to 800kg of bakery products per hour, making it highly cost-effective and efficient.

The Naarden-headquartered company has now launched a user-friendly website that provides a comprehensive explanation of the science of steaming to help those unfamiliar with the process, as well as tips on how to develop new products and test them in the market.

S&S website

The online resource obviously goes one step further, showcasing the company’s steam equipment and turnkey solutions that will help bakeries transform their setup to capture the growing number of health-conscious consumers.

“We are excited to offer our customers a comprehensive resource on steaming,”​ said the siblings.

“We are committed to helping our customers improve their operations and increase profitability, and this website is just one example of our commitment to this goal.”

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