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Dextran may compensate for low protein levels in biscuit and wholemeal wheat flour.

Wheat is primarily used for bread making. However, fungal diseases, grain moisture at harvest and low-protein content can negatively influence the quality of the wheat flour, essentially creating challenges for traders, millers and commercial bakers who struggle to produce consistently high-quality products.

Scientists in Ireland addressed the replacement of low-protein wholemeal (whole wheat) flour in order to improve functionality for bread-making purposes. Their work shows a potential application for dextran, a complex, branched glucan, in baking to compensate for low protein levels in biscuit and wholemeal wheat flour. Dextran has been shown to demonstrate high solubility characteristics and promote low solution viscosities. It's used in juices, for example, to ensure that the juice remains viscous and does not separate into a watery liquid and fiber.

Three hydrocolloids--xanthan gum, dextran and hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC)--were incorporated into bread recipes that were based on high-protein flour, low-protein flour and coarse wholemeal flour. Hydrocolloid levels of from 0% to 5%, on a flour basis, were used by the researchers in the recipes to test for water absorption tendencies.

The investigators analyzed the dough and bread for quality parameters, namely specific volume, crumb structure and staling profile. They found that xanthan gum had a negative impact on dough and bread quality characteristics. HPMC and dextran generally improved dough and bread quality.

The volume of low-protein flour breads was significantly improved by incorporating HPMC and dextran at 0.5% levels. However, dextran outperformed HPMC by optimizing initial bread hardness and staling shelf life, regardless of the type of flour that was used in the formulation.

Further information. Emanuele Zannini, School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, Room 223, University College Cork, College Road, Cork, Ireland; phone: ? 21 490 2388; email:

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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:Oct 1, 2014
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