Taste of Bread: Creating Taste in Breadmaking
The baker is a real artist in the creation of taste, drawing on a palette of varied ingredients and using different fermentation techniques to typify and personalize his bread and pastries. As Gérard Brochoire, director of the INBP, explains, “The quality of good bread depends 75% on the baker; that’s how important technique is in breadmaking!” Through curiosity, sensitivity, audacity and technique, these days every baker has the means of experimenting with the taste of bread.
A Palette of Ingredients
The most obvious way of diversifying the quality of bread is to play around with its composition and the type of cereals used. The basis of the product’s identity lies in the variety of wheat. This is complemented by the addition of cereals such as rye, buckwheat, German wheat, mixed rye and wheat, corn or flax in the form of flour or seed.
On a more sophisticated level, specific cereal ingredients such as wheat germ, malt or bran can be added to reinforce certain aromatic notes. These ingredients, based on wheat or rye, undergo different degrees of fermentation before being dried. The choice of cereal, the degree of drying and the final combination of different dried fermented products allows the aromatic balance of the bread to be altered. It is thus possible to reinforce the “grilled,” “roasted” or “sugary” notes, to guide one’s taste towards an acidic flavor or to mask other tastes.
Taking things one step further, sourdough derivatives in either dried or liquid form are very simple to use because they are mixed directly into the dough. These are the source of a rich, complex bouquet resulting directly from the raising agent. In recent years the use of yeast derivatives has been greatly developed, due to their excellent qualities as sensory stimulants and taste enhancers. They can be used to increase or correct the aromatic profile of the dough.
Fermentation, the Natural Way to Taste
The primary function of fermenting agents such as yeasts and bacteria is to make the dough rise. By partially consuming the sugars in the flour the natural metabolism of these microorganisms produces carbon dioxide and ethanol which cause an increase in volume during baking. The production of these components is accompanied by the release of a large number of flavor molecules. The quantity produced varies according to other factors such as the flour and other ingredients, the kneading, water content, length and temperature of fermentation, etc. These reveal themselves during baking, either by releasing the cell contents following the destruction of the micro-organisms by the heat or by the intense biochemical reactions that occur during baking. Each type of yeast or bacteria imparts specific aromatic notes to the bread, depending on its metabolism. Finally, there over 200 molecules that make up the taste of bread. The same ingredients can produce different aromatic profiles according to the length and temperature of the fermentation process. The combination of unique complex flavors in each type of bread, are the baker’s “signature” and evidence of his skill in the breadmaking process.
Raising Agents, a New Step Towards Originality
The use of raising agents in breadmaking generates the richest tastes, due to their complex flora which fully combine yeasts and bacteria. However, the use of natural raising agents requires such a high level of organization that this practice, common at the end of the 19th century, is today very limited. This situation and the positive image of raising agents has led yeast producers to develop fermentation agents which combine ease of use and diversity with traditional taste. The first generation of these products was used as a starter, but these days there is a complete range of ready-to-use raising agents.
Lesaffre Scientists at the Service of Raising Agents
Bakers are well aware that unless raising agents are refreshed they become over acidified and their beneficial flora are destroyed. With most commercially available raising agents this usually happens within a few days. Their biomass declines, rapidly reducing their effect on simple flavoring and acidification. Sourdough bread is characterized by the active fermentation of beneficial flora during breadmaking. This means that the raising agent must have at least a minimum level of viable biomass – a fact that has now been established in law by the “Bread Law”.
By fully analyzing the aging mechanism of bread flora, Lesaffre has been able to modify the maturing process of raising agents. This new, patented maturing process has enabled the effective life of the raising agent to be prolonged. These days, a distinction must be made between ready-to-use raising agents with a variable biomass and those with a minimum guaranteed biomass. Lesaffre offers the latter as part of its “Crème de Levain” range of products.