Why perfectionating softness and freshness in bread matters.

9 Jun 2021

Bakers know that the perfect soft, fresh texture in bread is an art to master, and a science to perfect. In truth, every generation wants to develop and improve their baking skills by trying new techniques and different ingredients. This innovative spirit is clear and obvious when you think about the crackle and endless texture variety available in today’s moist, soft and short bite breads. And yet as consumers’ demand for clean(er) label increases, the job of perfecting your breads’ texture – with fewer ingredients – becomes increasingly precise work. Stay informed as to what’s required to perfect your breads’ softness, and how you can achieve that ultimate long-lasting softness that will benefit your business.

Texture is always in motion.

It’s a fact of life that your bread’s texture starts the inevitable cycle of ‘staling’ a few seconds after you’ve baked it; it’s the beginning of its slow loss of freshness. To overcome this, it’s helpful to truly understand the causes of this staling. In fact two things are going on … on the one hand moisture is being redistributed. Essentially, moisture from the crumb migrates into the much drier crust, making it chewier. And on the other, staling is the reorganization of the starch after baking … this is the so-called retrogradation.

Retrogradation is the process of starch trying to return to its original state. As the bread cools, the starch begins to recrystallize after it gelatinized in the heat of the oven. This process ultimately leads to a loss of softness and moistness, and the crumbling of the crumb. The fundamental question of how to delay this staling process, and achieve longer lasting softness is one that has preoccupied bakers forever.

Texture in one bite

Regardless of your breads’ shelf life, it always comes down to that crucial moment when consumers bite into your bread. That’s the moment when the texture either delivers or exceeds expectations, or falls short. A bite into a whirlwind of softness, smoothness and utterly irresistible fresh crumb can make your bread a success.

To give you a detailed view on the precise texture experience of your bread, Puratos has worked with an expert panel that uses the ‘TEMPORAL DOMINANCE OF SENSATIONS’ (TDS) method. These experts can describe the sequence of dominant sensations and qualitative changes perceived during the consumption of bread, giving you a clear view on the possibilities for improvement.

With INTENS SOFT & FINE, the soft sensation is, in the beginning, the most prominent attribute; this is followed by a short and a moist feeling. In the later stages of mastication and in the aftertaste, a clear melting sensation is perceived by many of the experts.

The value of achieving perfect softness

Consumers do not use the same terminology as the sensorial experts, but nevertheless instinctively recognize high-quality freshness and a dry, crumbling crumb. Many senses play a role here: smell, sight, and touch. Our Taste survey confirms that Freshness remains the number 1 purchase decision criterion for consumers when Tomorrow buying bread. Having a premium quality softness helps you to tap into new markets. Quite literally, as a longer shelf life allows you to extend your distribution and reduce the levels of waste in the point of sales.

Rustic softness

With more major bakeries and food services starting to launch new ranges of rustic style burger buns and country-style toast breads, ‘soft rustic’ has become an increasingly interesting market too. Many of these soft rustic buns and toast breads, with spongy crumb and thin crust, typically come with sourdough, longer fermentation and higher hydration doughs. In short, they push everyday soft breads to the next level, increasing margins for bakers and making artisan style breads available to more consumers. It is especially in this more premium segment that consumers want clean(er) label breads, without compromising on texture and shelf life. Taste Tomorrow research shows that 60% of consumers are averse to additives in food.

Helping you bake everyday better:

Just like every wine variety ages differently, so does each type of bread. Sourdough bread for example ‘ages’ relatively well due to its typically higher hydration recipe, which gives a lighter, more open crumb structure. Other breads, like every day lean breads, typically become stale more quickly, as they do not contain fats and sugars that can help slow down staling. With this extra complexity, and every type of bread requiring a different bite, optimizing texture is a science that demands work and understanding. 

Puratos’ solutions for softness

Enzymes are proteins produced by fermentation. Inspired by nature, and based on these enzymes, clean(er) label improvers and mixes can help you to create shorter and clearer ingredient lists for baked goods whilst also achieving the right texture. Our latest innovation, Intens Soft & Fine was developed with a unique enzyme. It gives initial softness and a longer-lasting softness during shelf life when used to produce an extensive range of soft bakery items. It is the perfect clean(er) label alternative to monoglycerides (labelled as E471 in Europe) and full fat soy flour found on the market like FFSF, and other enzymes like lipases.  It also helps to diminish the exposure to the cost and price fluctuations of emulsifiers.

Incorporating wholegrains in your bread is a powerful way of developing your bread’s texture experience. To guarantee the ultimate softness in every bite we have a range of Specialty Grains that are either soaked in sourdough wholegrains & seeds or sprouted & fermented wholegrains. Both are full of juicy goodness, and slowly release their moistness into your breads’ crumb, extending its shelf life and adding additional long-lasting flavour.