Optimizing Refrigerated Fresh Doughs with Specialized Yeast

Baking with fresh dough helps to ensure excellent quality in fresh breads, pizza crusts, and many other baked applications. While frozen doughs offer many advantages of convenience and stability in storage and transport, the freezing process also limits the formation of unique flavor profiles that only come with fresh doughs. While it is advantageous that in fresh doughs yeast remains more active than in frozen doughs, it is the fermentation process itself that also makes fresh doughs more challenging to store, ship, and produce to scale.

The active yeast in fresh doughs creates changes in texture and flavor over time. While these changes are welcome, the process is time sensitive. If a fresh dough is left too long to ferment, there comes a point where the natural processes begin to have a negative effect. Flavors change as yeast remains active. Dough balls can rise in excess, causing them to stick to one another.

Refrigeration can help to slow fermentation, thereby extending the life of a fresh dough. This white paper explores common challenges that come with using fresh, chilled doughs and introduces CoolSmart® Command yeast, an innovative refrigerated dough solution from the baking experts at Lesaffre Corporation.

Challenges in Using Conventional Yeast for Chilled Doughs

Interest is on the rise in North America for fresh, refrigerated dough as more consumers seek out fresh flavors in baked goods. To meet demand, grocery stores are increasingly stocking breads that are baked in-house, as well as refrigerated, uncooked pizza doughs for home baking.

Food safety standards state that refrigerators must be set to store foods at a maximum of 40 °F. However, variations in refrigeration temperature are normal, especially in a grocery store refrigerator case that is frequently opened and closed. A dough’s placement in the case may also affect its average temperature. As such, chilled doughs may fluctuate between as much as 32 °F and 50 °F.

As a general rule, conventional yeast for lean dough will continue to ferment and produce carbon dioxide between temperatures of 39 °F and 50 °F. However, within this temperature range, fermentation activity significantly varies. After only one day, a dough stored at 50 °F might increase in volume by nearly 100 mL more than the same dough stored at 39 °F.

Fluctuations in storage temperature are difficult to avoid. These changes can create excessive gas production and weaken dough structure, which makes for inconsistencies in dough volume, flavor, and texture. For example, overproofed doughs will stick together in trays and bake unevenly. Such negative effects are amplified in doughs that must be refrigerated for two or more days, especially if they must be moved in and out of refrigeration during transport and handling. These variations in temperature create inconsistency in finished goods, potentially leading to wasted dough and lost sales.

Managing Fermentation with CoolSmart® Command

CoolSmart® Command by Lesaffre is a specialty yeast with unique functionality for refrigerated doughs. With CoolSmart® Command, doughs have significantly less fermentation activity in a temperature range of 32 °F to 50 °F, thus providing more stability during refrigeration. This gives formulators more control and security in chilled dough applications.

For the end user, CoolSmart® Command provides a level of control closer to frozen doughs but without freezing. By using CoolSmart® Command yeast, manufacturers can improve quality management and increase the transport range of fresh doughs. This results in less dough waste and fewer finished products that cannot be sold.

An added benefit of CoolSmart® Command is that it allows formulators to use instant yeast instead of baking powder in fresh, chilled doughs. Baking powder presents problems for clean labeling due to the fact that it includes chemicals that are unfamiliar to consumers. Yeast, however, is seen as a natural leavening agent and is more conducive to clean label applications.

Advantages Over Baking Powder

Since fermentation can be difficult to manage in refrigerated doughs, formulators often turn to baking powder as an alternative. With baking powder, gas production occurs during the baking process and eliminates the risk of fermentation during storage. However, baking powder does not replicate the technical and organoleptic properties that yeast provides to dough development.

With yeast, gas production in a developing dough contributes to a soft texture and increased volume, aspects that baking powder does not provide because most of its leavening activity occurs in the oven. Furthermore, baking powders may contribute a metallic taste to applications and, when using powders with baking soda, can make finished goods excessively salty. Yeast, on the other hand, produces sweet notes that are unique to fermentation without added saltiness.

Therefore, formulating chilled doughs with yeast is ideal for maximizing texture and flavor. Since CoolSmart® Command yeast works like conventional yeast above 50 °F, it provides the benefits of leavening via fermentation without the risk of over-fermenting during cold storage. Furthermore, CoolSmart® Command has advantages for in-store bakeries that need to keep dough on hand and want to sell fresh pizza doughs.

Application: Fresh Pizza Doughs

For chilled, fresh dough, formulators need solutions to help manage fermentation risk caused by fluctuations in the cold chain. Fresh pizza doughs are an excellent example of where conventional baker’s yeast can come up short. Conventional yeasts tend to continuously ferment in storage, which can result in uneven air pockets and inconsistent browning in cooked pizza crusts.

CoolSmart® Command solves for these dough development complications by greatly reducing yeast activation at chilled temperatures, thus preventing excessive rising during storage. The added control over fermentation allows for chilled, fresh pizza doughs to be stored longer in restaurant, grocery, and chain store refrigerators. This extended stability gives bakers the flexibility to make pizza doughs in the morning and worry less about how they will perform later that day or the next day.

By extending the storage time of refrigerated doughs by two to three days, CoolSmart® Command also gives commercial manufacturers more options to scale shipments of refrigerated doughs to convenience stores, club stores, and chain restaurants. This advantage works not only for pizza doughs but also for crusty breads, croissants, baguettes, and dinner rolls.

Application: Fresh Dough for In-Store Bakery

For everyday consumers, purchasing fresh baked bread is a major reason for making trips to the grocery store. According to data from the American Bakers Association, in-store bakery sales of bread totaled $1.6 billion and $1.2 billion for rolls and buns in 2019. Sales of bulk bread grew by 37% to $310 million, and croissants grew 25% to $344 million. These data indicate that consumers are taking notice of stores that offer more variety of fresh baked goods.

To keep up with growth in demand, in-store bakeries may need to prepare more fresh dough each morning or have it shipped in. Therefore, having the ability to store unfrozen doughs for more than 48 hours gives grocery and convenience stores the flexibility to scale up sales of fresh-baked goods without sacrificing quality or over-extending their bakery capacity.

In summary, fresh doughs are ideal for creating superior quality in baked goods. However, with fresh doughs, time is of the essence. Scaling production or expanding product offerings is difficult due to the inconsistencies inherent in storage and fermentation management. Chilling doughs offers some control, but they are nonetheless subject to fluctuations in temperature.

CoolSmart® Command yeast by Lesaffre extends the life of fresh doughs by slowing fermentation activity during refrigeration yet retaining the leavening power of instant yeast at room temperature. To learn more about optimizing quality and consistency in fresh, refrigerated doughs, contact Lesaffre for more details on using CoolSmart® Command in a multitude of bakery applications.

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