Adding nuts to products can be an expensive business. So while prices escalate, a cheaper option than some of the exotic tree nuts could be using peanuts. Even cheaper than whole nuts, peanut flour was recently launched into the UK with a variety of US-style applications touted. It can be used as a healthy, protein-rich ingredient in a range of goods, including cereal bars, cakes, biscuits and confectionery, diet and nutritional bars. It can also control the fat migration of the high fat centres, as well as enhance flavour and texture. Extracted from the oil of roasted peanut seed, peanut flour normally contains around 50% protein.
Organic peanut flour is brand new to the UK market, having been launched in May 2008 by the Golden Peanut Co. "Whether the flour comes from light, medium or dark roasted peanuts - which impart a light to a much stronger flavour profile accordingly - the roast level has no effect on the flour’s functionality. However, the stronger flavoured, darker roast is ideal for enhancing the flavour of fortified, healthy baked products," says Bruce Kotz, vice-president at Golden Peanut Co.
== Top tip: peanut flour ==
l Peanut flour can be used in anything from cookies and muffins to bagels. Offering the same flavour as peanut butter, it is also lower in fat (either 12% or 28% fat), and therefore useful for reducing the fat content and increasing the protein content of healthier baked goods. Peanut flour is said to work very well to colour and flavour products. Of course, it cannot be exchanged for ordinary flour, as it does not contain gluten, so has no rising properties. Most bakers using this ingredient would substitute a portion of their regular flour with peanut flour - at typically a 25% rate - to give the baked product a peanutty flavour.
Taste, texture and appearance alone no longer form the basis of a purchase decision, as consumers become more and more focused on the nutritional content of food. American-style products, such as bagels, cookies and muffins, are particularly suited to fruits. Traditionally, fruit has posed numerous difficulties to bakers, including poor piece identity and moisture retention. In line with this, Ocean Spray ITG has developed Berry Fusions, currently available in blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, cherry, orange, mango and mixed berry, as a natural alternative to artificial gums and jellies. Unlike other fruits, their shells are quite tough and the fruits remain intact, despite rigorous industrial processes, says Kristen Girard, principal food scientist at Ocean Spray. "They also offer consistent supply and stable pricing."
The fruits do not migrate or absorb moisture over time, nor bleed colour. Sweetened dried cranberries, he says, have the same process tolerance.
== Top tip: fruits ==
l One option is to blend pieces of the named fruit with Ocean Spray’s BerryFusions Fruits, allowing for flexible labelling and reduced production costs. For baked goods such as muffins, breads, cookies and cakes, a recommended inclusion rate is 15-20% by weight. This gives the baked product the desirable fruit distribution throughout.
While the ’bread with bits’ bakery market has boomed over the last two years, the flip side of that success has been seed price escalation, which may even be holding back the growth of the category. "Bakery seeds are basic agricultural crops, just like grains, and have not been sheltered from price rises, with some prices increasing over 200% in the last 12 months," says Alan Marson, commercial director of Holgran, a Premier Foods innovation arm, which also services businesses throughout the bakery sector. He says Holgran entered into a joint collaboration with bakery seed trading partners Kimpton Brothers, to encourage the cultivation of more UK-grown bakery seeds and to overcome the reliance on overseas sources. "There is still more growth in the sector, but it is being slowed down by these escalating costs," he says.
== Top tip: seeds ==
l There are so many uses for bakery seeds across the category yet to be explored - not just sliced bread or rolls with sprinkles on top. Pizza, pastry, tortilla, crackers, crisp breads, biscuits and croissants all lend themselves to seed inclusion with the right product mix.