Colored sprinkles, flavored chips, pralined nuts … these are just some of the many “little extras” that bakers can fold into batter or dough or scatter across a frosting or glaze. They can also be tossed with flakes or mixed into clusters and extruded into a bar or bite.

Inclusions are the fun and flavorful ingredients that add eye appeal, and often texture, to baked goods. Increasingly, they also serve as a vehicle to add extra nutrition, because inclusions and toppings can be formulated to deliver protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and even probiotics.

“Inclusions are commonly used in the snack food and baking industries as color, flavor and texture delivery systems,” says Ron Heddleson, senior director of R.&D. for QualiTech Co.

Other extras often added to baked goods include specially prepared fruits and nuts, which are designed to withstand the rigors of the baking process. This includes temperature fluctuations during distribution, as well as lengthy ambient shelf life for packaged snack products.

“Today’s consumer isn’t satisfied with the standard flavors and ingredients of the past,” says Megan Culp, sales manager of Parker Products. “Consumers now look for healthy, clean label baked goods with intriguing culinary flavors. This is true for everything from bagels to donuts to granola bars.

“Exciting ingredients are key to creating exciting baked goods, from new flavors to trendy health ingredients. Since such items typically reflect a small purchase, and many consumers make numerous such purchases, new products are a key way of maintaining consumer interest in your brand. Identifying ingredient trends that work well within existing product formats can be a valuable tool for developing new products.”

Read more about how moisture, real food, bold flavors, texture, and nutrient density factor into inclusions at Food Business News.