Bakers, like other food manufacturers, strive to meet consumers’ changing tastes.
One of the easiest approaches to improving the image of carbohydrate-loaded baked goods is to add some fruits and nuts.
The two can act as an alternative to refined sugar, which have been linked to diseases. There is a long list of fruits that can be puréed, including bananas, apples, pears, pineapples, dates, figs, mangoes, papaya and pumpkin.
Fruits add fibre, functional benefits and sweetness to baked goods and snacks. This is attributed to antioxidants and health benefits such as Vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin and potassium.
Fruit sweetness works well with the more spicy, savoury and assertive flavours. They also enhance and balance multi-dimensional flavours that combine citrus and herbaceous notes with spice.
Bakers and snack producers should also consider dried fruits, for example, plums, which have sorbitol. They carry sweetness without impacting the glycemic load of a product. Dried plums can also enhance browning and take the place of artificial colour.
With fruits, whole-wheat flatbreads get the benefit of more moisture when the purée is added to dough, and dried plums add a natural, whole-wheat appearance to gluten-free breads to help them achieve a better browning texture in place of milk powder or other browning agents that are allergens.
Certain dried fruits such as raisins hold their shape, add subtle sweetness and boost the fibre content of cookies and breakfast breads. In cake, dried fruits will hydrate with the ingredient water or added moisture while remaining in suspension during baking.
Regarding proportions of fruit purée to use within formulations, it will depend on what else is in the recipe. The general rule is one cup of purée to replace one cup of sugar, if you’re not using eggs you might need to use more of a binding-type of fruit like banana.
Nuts also remain popular with consumers, who are discovering their many health benefits, with bakers and snack manufacturers using them in fillings and as inclusions and toppings. Nuts are full of power-packed protein and fibre, vitamin E, calcium and niacin. They also add texture to snack and bakery products.
Macadamia and cashew nuts are most often used roasted and chopped in cookies. Peanuts, however, are the most popular nut. It is usually roasted and salted to bring out its buttery flavour. Nuts can be used as raw, blanched and toasted, puréed or ground into flour thus add flavor, nutrition and texture to baking recipe.
Protein alternatives are on the rise, and as consumers turn away from traditional protein sources, they are looking for more plant-based proteins, such as nuts. They offer satiety and nutrient density. Due to allergies, not all consumers can eat nuts, proper labelling of such snacks is recommended
Department of Dairy, Food Science and Technology, Egerton University.