The production of flour requires many components, particularly, additives – therefore what are flour additives, what are their functions and why are they so commonly used.
Certain products are added that help boost the productivity of the flour production and bread production process such as the incorporation of leavening agents. However, other ingredients are also integral when it comes to producing smooth, robust and elasticated flour. One of these ingredients is flour additives. Many bakers know the importance of flour additives and why they are so popular, which this exclusive feature wishes to understand in further detail. So, what are flour additives?
What are flour additives and why are they used?
Flour additives are food additives combined with flour to improve baking functionality. Flour treatment agents are used to increase the speed of dough rising and to improve the strength and the workability of the dough. Laws around the world vary with regards to what additives can be incorporated into certain flours. This is for many reasons, such as certain chemicals placed in the additives being considered harmful under a particular country’s food regulation laws but acceptable in another. For example, the UK Flour Millers company has noted that, “Legislation in the UK requires that additives are only used if they perform a useful purpose, are safe and do not mislead the consumer”. However, in other countries such as the USA, this may not be the case seeing as the food regulation laws are more lenient.
So, what are the types of flour additives available on the global market?
- E300 or Ascorbic acid- This is an additive that has been approved by the EU and the UK. It is used as a natural antioxidant in food and drink products. E300 is more commonly known as ascorbic acid, which is also known as Vitamin C. This type of additive can of course be produced naturally in most fruits or vegetables but is synthetically created from the fermentation and oxidation of glucose. It is a sugar acid that is most commonly used as a bread enhancer by acting as a flour-treating agent. This additive acts as a bleaching agent which makes it desirable for its usage in white beard and cakes.
- Azodicarbonamide (ADA) – This additive is a perfect example of an additive that is banned in certain areas of the world but accepted in others. This flour additive has been approved since 1962 in the USA but banned in Europe. It is also labelled as “permitted” in Canada. ADA is a fast-acting flour treatment that creates a cohesive, dry dough that can tolerate high water absorption. Though it is not a form of bleach, it does give the bread a whiter crumb. The reason as to why this additive has been banned in flour in certain areas of the world is because it is considered to be potentially carcinogenic.
- L-Cysteine – This is an amino acid that speeds up the reaction within the dough thus reducing or eliminating the bulk of fermentation time. This allows the dough to improve in elasticity and gas retention. Gas retention in dough particularly, is vital in improving the dough development meaning that a baker is left with a rigid and delicious dough.
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