Consumer demands for healthier foods have fluctuated in recent years, swinging from low-carb products high in protein to simpler, more nutrient-rich items that feature easy-to-understand ingredient panels, according to Corbion. Consumers want to know what ingredients are in the foods they are eating, and how these items can positively influence their health. They also recognize that whole grains can play an important part in a complete, healthy diet. This changing food landscape has resulted in the use of more whole grains and seeds in the craft bread category.

“Our research has shown that nearly 80% of consumers say they consider items high in whole grains as healthier, and that more than one-third of consumers are more likely to purchase items rich in ancient grains, so bakers are working hard to create products that rely more heavily on these ingredients,” says CJ McClellan, global marketing manager for Corbion, Lenexa, Kansas. “Craft breads are seeing some growth in the bread category, driven by the wider availability of grain choices like sprouted grains, ancient grains, chia, flax and teff. Consumers’ demand for these kinds of products has allowed bakers to create more nutrient-dense baked goods that deliver adventurous eating experiences.

Jonathan Davis, senior vice president Innovation for La Brea Bakery, Los Angeles, predicts the craft bread sector will definitely see ancient grains continue to gain popularity in 2020. “But we’ll also see others gain momentum, specifically, sprouted grain,” he says.

“Sprouted grains are appealing to the health-conscious consumer who is looking for an easily digestible grain that has higher nutrient levels,” he continues. “Bakers have begun to experiment with sprouting a wide range of grains including wheat and quinoa with the goal of producing more nutrient dense breads. Bakers have also noticed a more diverse flavor profile as a result of sprouted grains, which has resonated well with consumers. At La Brea Bakery, we offer a Sprouted Wheat Loaf, a hearty bread made with sprouted whole wheat flour and multiple other grains and seeds. The loaf’s unique taste makes it incredibly popular among our customers.”

Ralf Tschenscher, baking business development manager for Lesaffre, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, points to another looming trend — that roughly 6% of North American consumers are vegan. Beyond that, the number of consumers seeking out plant-based alternatives to milk, cheese, meat and more is increasing. In fact, according to the Plant Based Foods Association, the US. retail market for plant-based foods is growing at five times the rate of total food sales. Food and beverage brands have been taking advantage of these new opportunities, with the number of new product launches featuring plant-based claims increasing by 62% CAGR globally between 2013 and 2017.

“At Lesaffre, we offer a variety of non-GMO and kosher vegan baking ingredients — from yeast to dough improvers to bread bases — that allow our customers to tap into this growing trend,” Tschenscher says. “We also offer unique solutions including yeast extracts for vegan cheese breads, rolls, sticks and scones. Yeast extracts are the essence of baker’s yeast, and they add taste to a variety of applications by bringing out and balancing flavors.” 

Consumers are increasingly interested in breads with unique flavors.

Rick Oleshak, vice president of marketing for AB Mauri North America, St. Louis, Missouri, explains that AB Mauri North America recently rolled out several mixes, blends, bases and concentrates ideally suited for both industrial and artisan bakery operations. The Burgen premium range offers up inspired mix recipes — featuring grains, seeds and more with a variety of clean label attributes — that are expertly formulated using carefully selected ingredients. Ultimately, these solutions yield crafted, tasty breads and rolls that offer both multi-sensory experiences and genuine health benefits.

Benefits of the Burgen range include attributes such as: good source of fiber and whole grains; low in fat; no added sugar; up to 14-day mold-free shelf life; no artificial colors or flavors; no trans-fats or partially hydrogenated oil (PHO); certified Kosher; clean label preservation; clean label emulsifier replacement; and clean label oxidation without iodate, bromate or azodicarbonamide (ADA). These all extend enjoyment and consumption of baked goods and help bakers meet today’s consumer demands.

“AB Mauri is well suited to contribute to the success of our customers through the delivery of both superior technical services as well as high quality yeast and bakery ingredient solutions,” Oleshak says.

Corbion has over 100 years of experience in the baking industry, McClellan says, and during that time, the company has built out a wealth of industry knowledge, market insights and product solutions that are all in support of helping craft bread bakers create innovative products that achieve their goals.

“By working directly with these customers, we can more intimately understand their needs and supply them with the most ideal solutions for their specific applications and consumer demands,” he says. “We’re constantly evaluating new trends and creating emulsifier, enzyme and pre-soaked grain solutions that help craft bread bakers achieve their clean-label, freshness, quality and consistency goals. But we’re also dedicated to helping bakers innovate by providing them access to resources that will help with their application needs, like our state-of-the-art facility in Lenexa, Kansas, which features research, application and bakery labs where we help customers solve formulation challenges. This facility allows us to assist them in determining the optimal physical and chemical attributes needed for their applications.”

Corbion recognizes that clean-label ingredients and extended shelf life are at the forefront of many bakers’ concerns because these traits can have direct impacts on production costs and profit margins. Corbion offers a variety of solutions to help bakers achieve their label claims and appeal to consumer demands.

“For example, our line of Pristine® dough conditioners are enzyme-based, label-friendly alternatives to traditional products to provide enhanced quality, consistency and manufacturing performance.” McClellan says. “To help craft bread bakers achieve their clean-label and formulation goals, we also provide solutions with all-natural grain bases, organic oat blends and flaxseed mixes. Our pre-soaked grains help ensure consistency when adding ancient or whole grains into an application. When added to baked goods, these ingredients can help improve the appearance, flavor and shelf life of craft breads.”

In recent years, Corbion has made updates to its product portfolio to include more solutions designed to support the clean-label formulations that consumers want. “Our expertise in fermentation technology and microbiology allows us to create solutions that help bakers remove ingredients from their products, without compromising on quality or consistency,” McClellan says. “For example, our Verdad® MP 100 solution is a label-friendly mold inhibitor that keeps breads, tortillas and buns fresh. Bakers can use it as a naturally derived replacement for calcium propionate, and it can be listed on ingredient labels as ‘vinegar and natural flavors.’ This clean-label solution effectively stops mold while providing the functionality of more traditional solutions. Delivering these kinds of innovative solutions and constantly updating our portfolio is how we ensure we’re staying ahead of the latest market trends, helping bakers meet consumer demands and offering the best solutions for our customers.”

Appreciation for the craft

Dave Krishock, bakery tech support manager for Grain Craft, recalls growing up at the elbows of two grandmothers that were fantastic scratch bakers and later having owned his own bakery in the ‘90s, “I too derive a great deal of satisfaction of listening to authentic French baguettes or large sourdough rounds talk to me after being pulled from a very hot deck oven. That sound, the smell, and the heat waffling off breads provides tremendous satisfaction to a process that allows no shortcuts. The truly gifted artisan baker lives by the mantras: Time and temperature are key, and fermentation equals flavor. Who really knows what artisan means, but true craftsmen know, for it is a passion that we share when getting together to share techniques, loading a shared oven or enjoying each other’s yeasted masterpieces.”

As the artisan movement continues to grow, Krishock says, people often hear that locally sourced grains and flours are better — to offer a smaller carbon footprint and to support local farmers. “Well smaller is not always better; sometimes smaller is just smaller,” he points out. “The value that larger milling companies, such as Grain Craft provide is blending, testing and consistent milling that provides the true artisan a better chance of producing great breads.”

On the food safety and regulatory platforms, Grain Craft has systems in place to monitor the incoming grains and outgoing flours to ensure the highest standards of compliance with federal and local food safety regulations. Such systems may not always be in place at smaller, artisan-sized milling operations, he says.

“At Grain Craft we truly value the relationships we have developed with producers and research universities to support good stewardship of the land and the development of wheat varieties that exhibit better baking qualities,” Krishock says. “For thousands of years, the producers, the millers and the bakers have wrestled with which varieties of wheat and what farming and milling practices will produce the finest baguette or ciabatta with unparalleled texture and chew. All three groups are passionate about their portion of the equation and Grain Craft is committed to strengthening such relationships to promote collaboration and positive change on behalf of consumers of bakery products.”

The synergy of sustainability

Harry Peemoeller created a poly-batta formula made with winter poly-crop elements.

Harry Peemoeller, senior instructor for Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina, believes in the future of sustainability and understands the importance of a harmonic relationship among bakers, millers and farmers.  

“The trifecta of farmer, miller and baker resonates with everybody, but it has to be sustainable,” he explains. “Farmers already using poly cropping systems to increase harvest yields and bread baked with locally sourced grains are a symbol of quality to me. The local grain movement has just started and will continue to grow.”

Peemoeller recently demonstrated a poly-batta formula made with winter poly-crop elements that include Brittany buckwheat, Huguenot black oats, Sea Island white rice peas, Scots Bere barley, White Lammas wheat, African red grain sorghum, Sea Island benne, camelina, Sea Island guinea flint corn and Nostrale rice. These grains came from Anson Mills, where Glenn Roberts, founder of Anson Mills, explains poly-crop as the “perfect acre” in which a number of grasses (wheat, rye and oats) and other compatible plants grow together and are harvested in vertical layers as they ripen. The result is a healthy soil, no need for crop rotation or chemical fertilizers, and the best tasting versions of these plants that nature can produce. 

Guy Frenkel does not work for a prominent bakery or own a retail shop. Rather, he is an award-winning storyteller and a senior creative executive who specializes in multi-platform entertainment in Los Angeles. He also happens to be an influential bread baker whose talents are blossoming to the point where many top names in baking follow Frenkel regularly on Instagram (@ceorbread).

“I have the privilege of playing in the R&D department,” Frenkel says, as prepares a dough with Peruvian purple corn and roasted purple sweet potato that he dehydrated into fine particles. “For me, every dough is a blind date.”

Frenkel carries bags of specialty grains that come from local farmers in surrounding areas of Los Angeles. Malted purple barley. Amaranth. Ethiopian Blue Tinge farro. Yellow dent corn. “One of the reasons I believe in fresh milling is the local farmers I work with. Every year, it’s a golden harvest, and I want to use everything they grow. We discuss the upcoming crop and envision new breads that will best utilize the new grains.”

One of Frenkel’s closest friends and collaborators is Larry Kandarian of Kandarian Organic Farms in Los Osos, California. Frenkel has an advantage of milling his own flours because of the small quantities of grains he uses, compared to that of a retail bread bakery. He is a big fan of the Mockmill home-scale stone mills from Wolfgang Mock, available in professional models that can mill 200 grams of wheat per minute into flour.

Perennial ryegrass is probably the most unusual ingredient he uses to bake bread. It may sound far-fetched but consider that perennial grains are gaining potential in the marketplace because of the sustainability factor.

“As bakers, we have access to more grain varieties than ever before,” Frenkel says. “Farmers everywhere are waking up to the benefits and joy of growing heritage wheats and ancient grains. I am fortunate to live in California and enjoy close friendships with several remarkable farmers who are not only growing their grains organically and sustainably but are also busy reviving all sorts of amazing grains. Beyond the now popular spelt and rye, we can find emmer, einkorn, Khorasan, teff, millet, buckwheat, triticale, purple and black barley and many more.”

Pushing the flavor envelope

Julien Otto at IBIE 2019

At Heirloom Bakery & Hearth in Kansas City, Missouri, owner Scott Meinke says one of the more unusual breads that is gaining popularity is a spent grain sourdough, made with spent beer grains from a local brewer.

Julien Otto, chef instructor and master baker for The French Pastry School in Chicago, is a big proponent of old-world artisan breads with an innovative twist. Among his favorites are Alsatian rye beer bread, Beaujolais red wine and salami rye bread, onion and potato levain bread and Madras curry and raisin loaf. The chef instructor for the bread and pastry programs at The French Pastry School, Otto demonstrates time-tested methods of leavening techniques, mixing and shaping doughs and adds a fresh twist by incorporating different flavors. 

To make his Beaujolais red wine and salami rye bread, he used a formula with 8% rye flour and a stiff levain. The red wine goes into the initial mix with the flour, rye flour, water, yeast, salt and levain for five minutes in first gear, followed by mixing four minutes in second gear. Finally, add the chopped salami in second gear. 

The Madras curry and raisin loaf is prepared with a double-hydration method, meaning water is added in two stages. Then he mixed in Madras curry powder and raisins (any type will work) and kneaded for two minutes in first gear. Once baked, Otto sliced the Madras curry and raisin bread, and participants in his class gathered around in eager anticipation. “The flavor,” Otto says, “is unique and very satisfying.”

Working with sprouted grains

Richard Miscovich, a department chair from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhone Island, and a prominent bread baking instructor, recommends that when working with sprouted grains it is important to sprout just past the bud break. You can never over-rinse, but you can over-sprout. Start with grains like spelt or Kamut and cover with an inch or two of water for 24 to 36 hours. To rinse, you can use a colander or thin mesh sieve.

“Temperature will affect the rate of sprouting, as well as how often you rinse,” Miscovich says. The enzymatic activity converts starch to sugar and unlocks a lot of vitamins. It’s important to recognize that the process of sprouting grains also deactivates phytic acid, which will bind up with valuable minerals like zinc inside the digestive system, making the minerals no longer bio-available.

Tom Gumpel, former vice president of research and development for Panera Bread, says that today’s consumers are starting to understand that avoiding gluten or carbohydrates is not a one-size-fits-all approach to their diets. “The next level of nutrition is, how does this work for you, the individual?” he says. “Nature should tell us that everyone of us is different.”

Sprouted grains offer numerous health benefits. When the grain is sprouted (ideally just past the bud break), the phytic acid is eliminated. Phytic acid is a natural substance in plant seeds that impairs the absorption of minerals and, as a result, is often called an anti-nutrient.

Soaking makes the seed or grain more permeable and contributes to a reduction in anti-nutrients, he said. This leads to an increase in functionality of vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids. For these reasons, breads made with sprouted grains offer considerable promise for the future.

For bakers, Gumpel said that it is important to recognize that every grain has a different biorhythm, so it is best to sprout different grains (such as spelt, rye or wheat) separately and only combine them afterward. “The discussion about good bread is about the grain,” he explains. “Long, natural fermentation is where the flavor comes from.”

Bread and pizza expert Peter Reinhart, a Johnson & Wales University baking instructor and book author, says that he believes sprouted grains are going to get bigger and bigger in the United States. “Sprouting the grain makes the grain taste better, in my opinion,” he says. “We are right at the tipping point of sprouted grains becoming a bigger part of the American diet.”

International Artisan Bakery Expo

The second annual International Artisan Bakery Expo will take place on March 31 to April 2, 2020, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Registration includes admission to all three days of the exposition as well as complimentary access to more than 30 educational seminars and demonstrations by prominent bakers and industry consultants. To learn more, visit

The Artisan Bakery Expo is co-located alongside the renowned International Pizza Expo, which allows bakery attendees the ability to visit both show floors and attend the 70+ pizza-related on-floor demonstrations, educational seminars and networking events.

Keynote addresses will take place the first two mornings of the event and be delivered by Anthony Falco, International Pizza Consultant and Ken Forkish, James Beard Award winning baker. To curate a superior educational component, the Artisan Bakery Expo partnered with key associations such as The Bread Bakers Guild of America (BBGA) to design seminars and demonstrations for artisan bakers, led by artisan bakers.

Educational sessions and demonstrations will include the following:

  • Extreme Donuts Presenter: Rachel Wyman
  • Investing in Your Food Service Team Presenters: Leslie Mackie & Scott France
  • Brush Up Your Bread Shaping Presenter: Melina Kelson
  • Home Baking Business & The Cottage Law Presenter: Jorg Amsler
  • Social Media Boot Camp Presenter: Mitchie Curran
  • Tartines & Savory Pastries Presenter: Solveig Tofte
  • Heritage Grains in Bread & Pastries Presenter: Ellen King
  • Tips on Producing the Perfect Donut Presenter: Stephen Chavez
  • The Art of Hispanic Sweet Breads Presenter: Pedro Silva
  • Baking with Cannabis - CBD Oil Presenter: Glenn Cybulski