To make food labels friendlier to ingredient-conscious consumers, enzymes can take over dough conditioning tasks, according to two experts from Corbion Caravan, Lenexa, Kas., who spoke at the American Society of Baking’s annual meeting and BakingTech 2016 conference held Feb. 28-March 1 in Chicago.

“Cleaner labels should not equal decreased quality,” said Ron Zelch, product knowledge and training manager, Corbion Caravan. “Enzyme use is not just about shelf life but also cleaner labels.”

During the paper that he presented jointly with Jesse Stinson, senior scientist, bakery research, Corbion Caravan, Mr. Zelch showed how enzymes could cut the number of ingredients in 100% whole wheat bread to 13 from 17.

This reduction targeted dough conditioners, common bakery ingredients consisting of single materials or blends.

“Proper conditioning is critical to finished bread quality,” he said.

Typically, dough conditioners comprise oxidants, emulsifiers, reducing agents and others, including enzymes. Mr. Zelch identified some — ascorbic acid, lecithin, enzymes, salt, gluten and yeast — as already recognized as clean label.

“Still, the list of components must be smaller to be consumer acceptable,” he said.

Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. Their action is highly specific, prompting Ms. Stinson to ask, “Maybe there’s more value we can get out of this technology.”

She offered specific examples. Protease acts on proteins and may replace L-cysteine, a mix-time reducer. Lipase, through modifying lipids, enhances dough tolerance, loaf volume and crumb structure and, thus, can replace diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides (DATEM).

“Most clean label conditioners will combine different enzyme classes selected for their functionality to achieve optimal performance,” Mr. Zelch said.

He showed cross-section photos of white and 100% whole wheat bread made with enzyme-based dough conditioners. There was no difference compared with control products containing conventional dough conditioners.

Labeling concerns are minimized because U.S. regulations qualify enzymes as processing aides that are exempt from being named in ingredient legends. In Canada, they are listed by type.

Mr. Zelch and Ms. Stinson also described use of enzymes in extended shelf life (E.S.L.) applications and how this is changing.

“E.S.L.’s focus in the past has been on bread and rolls,” Ms. Stinson observed. “But the approach today is to tailor them to other bakery products: donuts, cupcakes, muffins, tortillas, pastry and Danish. By taking performance characteristics into account, we can make enzyme solutions that work in these products.”

Texture is another characteristic that may be controlled with enzymes, Ms. Stinson said. The qualities affected are firmness, resilience and adhesiveness. She showed the results of tests with texture-modifying enzymes in muffins, cake donuts and sweet doughs.