May 4, 2020
Bread staling can have a significant negative economic impact because of the costs for unsalable product, thrift store discounts, more-frequent distribution.
Thankfully, bread softness can be improved and bread staling minimized by optimizing ingredients, processes, and packaging and by using antistaling agents. The ingredients and process modifications that improve the softness of freshly baked bread can also improve the quality of bread after storage.
So for example ingredients affecting loaf volume and crumb structure, such as fat, water, oxidants, enzymes, gluten, flour, etc., also act on crumb softness. Why is that? It’s because a loaf that is larger, less dense develops from a more optimal gluten structure and that will also make a finer, more regular crumb structure and softer breadcrumb. A well-developed gluten structure also contributes to better crumb resilience and to better water-retaining capacity, resulting in a softer, less crumbly crumb over time.
Therefore, process conditions like mixing and fermentation that affect crumb structure will affect crumb softness. Ingredients and process conditions that increase the moisture content of the breadcrumb (sugar, fibers, water absorption, baking conditions) will also contribute to softness. For all these reasons it is important to check the oven conditions to avoid excessive moisture loss during baking.
Measuring Bread Staling
Consumer testing, crumbliness, and water absorption are sometimes used to measure bread staling, but the most common method is compressibility. The most common compressibility measurements use one of these four instruments: Instron Universal Testing Machine, Baker Compressimeter, Bloom Gelometer, Voland Stevens Texture Analyzer.
Comparing results from the different instruments and methods is difficult, and they all measure compressibility by pressing slices flat instead of squeezing at the sides as consumers do. But when used properly, the compressibility measurements give a good indication of how consumers will perceive differences in staling rates.
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