Pulse Flour Improves Gluten-free Product Formulation

Pulse flours can be used in gluten-free products for their functionality. It is demonstrated that they contribute to building a better structure and a better color development, if their usage level reaches 2-5%, explained Elena de la Peña, senior associate, bakery and snacks applications specialist at Ingredion Incorporated, during a webinar called “Gluten-free baking: Solving formulation challenges with innovative solutions”.

Pulses are dried seeds of plants in the legume family, which include peas, beans, lentils, and chickpeas. They are considered nutritional powerhouses, high in protein, high in dietary fiber, rich in minerals and source of B vitamins and folic acid.

Ingredion’s specialist mentioned four major challenges in gluten-free product formulation: 

  1. Processing – referring to lack of viscosity or elasticity of the wheat containing dough leading to difficulties in processability and machinability, and lack of structure during baking.
  2. Texture/ Taste/ Appearance – which translate into reduced volume, lack of an even cell structure; dry, crumbly, grainy texture; poor crust color and development and grainy flavor.
  3. Shelf life – gluten-free products tend to have shorter life/increased staling rates due to increased water mobility.
  4. Nutritional profile – lack of protein, nutrients and fiber and use of high levels of sugars and fats to mask the texture and flavor changes.

Controlling the batter viscosity is essential for proper batter dispersal during the manufacturing process of gluten-free baked goods. Batter viscosity directly affects the end product quality: high batter viscosity leads to a smaller volume, which leads to denser crumb, which in turn leads to higher crumb firmness. On the other hand, wrong batter viscosity leads to large holes in the crumb, causing the product to collapse.

One of the challenges of gluten-free foodstuffs is storage, as most of consumers mention the changes suffered by these products upon storing, such as rubbery crust, excessive crumbliness or hard and dense crumb.

As in the USA most gluten-free breads are sold frozen, it is important to maintain soft crumb texture for 2-3 months after freeze-thawing, meaning free-thaw stability. In Europe, most gluten-free breads are sold at room-temperature, so it is important to maintain the soft crumb texture in these conditions, meaning shelf life stability. 

Solutions are provided by five types of ingredients: native flours and starches, cook-up native functional or modified starches, pre-gelatinized native functional or modified starches, proteins or other hydrocolloids/gums. Focusing on flour pulses, the addition of this ingredient can solve many of the challenges mentioned. 

On the other hand, people suffering from celiac disease are more likely to suffer from malnutrition than other people. Not only they have poor absorption of nutrients because of the damages in their intestine, but also their diet tends to be deficient in fibers and high in fats and sugars. Here, the specialist from Ingredion refers to the nutritional profile of the pulses, which records higher amounts of protein, such as 23.7 gr/kg (dry pea), 26.3 (lentils), 24.4 (chickpea) or 24.5 (dry bean). By comparison, tapioca flour has only 0.2, whole corn flour – 8.0, whole rice flour – 5.6, whole-wheat flour – 13.2. The highest amount can be found in whole soy flour (35.00).

More than that, the content of fibers in pulses flour is higher than in other types of flour. For example – dry pea flour contains 16.6 gr/kg, lentil – 13.6, chickpea – 8.7 and dry bean – 22.5, compared with tapioca flour – 0.9, whole corn flour – 8.0, whole rice flour – 2.4, whole soy flour – 9.6, or whole-wheat flour – 10.0.  

Ingredient pulse solutions for gluten-free products contribute to emulsification, texture, gelation, water holding, adhesion, film forming and blending. As valuable ingredients, they enhance texture and provide moist mouthfeel, offer good synergy with other gluten-free flours and increase the protein content, also eliminating other protein, such as egg whites. 

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