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This is a guest post by Morgan Walker Clarke. Morgan is from Dallas, Texas, works in the hospitality industry and has an interest for food and science that he loves to share with us!
Using enzymes in baking is not a new concept. Bakers have been using enzyme reactions without even knowing it since the beginning of bread making.
Enzymes are found naturally in flour and other ingredients, but not always in large amounts. The amounts of enzymes can also vary from one batch of flour to the next, nor are the natural enzymatic reactions uniform. This makes it difficult to get a consistent product using only basic ingredients.
Nowadays bakers can buy enzymes to create specific results such as longer shelf life and softness. Modern biotechnology can create very specialized enzymes, which have specific and predictable reactions. This leads to less guesswork and a consistent product.
There are a lot of different enzymes that bakers can use for a variety of reasons. One of them is maltogenic amylase, which we’ll discuss in more detail in this article.
How Does Maltogenic Amylase Work in Bread?
Bread is made up of a few basic ingredients which combine and react to form the delicious food we know and love. The flour in bread is mostly starch. Starch is a form of carbohydrate which is made up of long chains of glucose.
Maltogenic amylase breaks down starch into maltose, hence the name maltogenic. In conditions where it has plenty of substrates to work with, it might break down starch into smaller molecules. It is an endo-amylase, which means it works on the end of a string of molecules–in this case, the carbohydrates in the flour. The amylase attaches to the strand and breaks the carbohydrate chain to create maltose. Maltose is a sugar made up of two glucose molecules.
Maltogenic amylase is just one of many enzymes that’s released during the malting of grains. In bread making, you’d often find (non-)diastatic malt power being used as well to add to bread, it’s role is similar, though not identical to that of the individual enzyme.
Why would you use Maltogenic Amylase?
Breaking the carbohydrates down into maltose is beneficial for a few reasons.
Food for Yeast
Yeast needs sugar to ferment the bread. The yeast metabolizes the sugars and creates carbon dioxide gas and ethanol. The gas created by the yeast is what makes bread rise. The ethanol gets cooked off during baking.
Yeast cannot metabolize the starch normally found in flour on its own. The carbohydrate chains are too large and tough to break into smaller usable molecules.
The maltogenic amylase help to do that work for the yeast. Since yeast easily metabolizes maltose, the combination of amylase and yeast lead to good bread rise and a spongier crumb.
People like sweet things and bread is no exception. Maltogenic amylase can be used to make bread sweeter. This can be done in addition to adding the usual amount of sugar, or it can be used to reduce the amount of sugar needed in a recipe.
The crust of bread forms through the Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between sugars and amino acids that occur at high heat. Amino acids are abundant enough in flour to not be the limiting factor in the reaction. Instead, sugar tends to be a limiting factor.
Since maltogenic amylase makes sugar, it increases the amount of sugar available in the bread for the Maillard reaction. This leads to a darker, thicker crust without the need to change anything else. Darker and thicker crusts tend to be more desirable in bread products for both appearance and longevity.
The Maillard reaction is also responsible for the aroma of bread. Having more sugar and a stronger Maillard reaction increases the strength of the aroma coming from the bread.
Improving Bread Over the Long Term
Having bread that is amazing when it comes out of the oven is a great thing. However, many customers do not get their bread fresh from the oven. They get it a few hours to a few days later. Even then, they do not always eat it immediately.
Having bread that maintains its freshness for long periods of time is of critical importance for many bread makers. Maltogenic amylase can help extend the shelf life of bread as well as make it more delicious.
The science behind the staling of bread is not completely understood, but many factors have been found to contribute to this phenomenon. One of these factors is the change in the structure of the starch inside the bread.
During the kneading process, gluten forms and starch absorbs moisture. As the bread bakes, the starch gelatinizes. Immediately after baking, the starch is still gelatinous, which gives the bread a nice soft, elastic crumb.
Over time, the starch recrystallizes. As it crystallizes, it also traps the water in the bread. These two things make the crumb firm and inelastic. This leads to a hard and dry bread.
A maltogenic amylase strain can slow this recrystallization process and extend the time that the bread is soft and elastic. It does this by continuously breaking down the starch chains.
Mechanism of Function
The exact mechanism by which maltogenic amylase works to slow down the recrystallization process is currently unclear. Some think that cutting the chains keeps them from being able to recrystallize as quickly. Others think the starch recrystallizes at the same rate, but having smaller pieces keeps the structure from becoming rigid as quickly. Either way, researchers know it works.
Enzymes are proteins that rely on their folded structure to create a chemical reaction. The folds are unique to each enzyme and are the reason they can be so targeted.If the enzymes are heated past their heat tolerance point, the proteins unfold and lose their functionality. This is called denaturation. For an enzyme to continue working it should not be heated above this temperature.
While many other enzymes can cut starch, not all of them survive the baking process, but maltogenic amylase does. Maltogenic amylase is a bacterial amylase. This means that it is a byproduct of bacteria. Bacterial amylases tend to have a higher heat tolerance than amylases from fungi or ones found naturally in grains.
The denaturation point of maltogenic amylase can be above 90ºC (=194°F), which is well above the gelatinization point of starch. As such, bread is often not baked at temperatures that destroy the amylase. This leaves it free to keep working in the bread over its baked!
Preventing spoilage by molds
Of course, one of the factors involved in the shelf life of bread is how quickly it goes stale. Another major factor is spoilage. The main cause of bread spoilage is mold. Mold loves moisture and sugar. Bread is full of both. Given access to the bread, molds can spread rapidly and ruin a loaf.
While bread is technically sterile when it comes out of the oven, it does not stay that way. Keeping mold away from bread is nearly impossible. Molds create spores that drift through the air for great distances. The spores are small enough that they can float for long periods of time as well. The spores remain viable for days or even years.
In short, they get everywhere, and there is not much that bakers can do to keep them out of their environments. The only way to make an area completely mold-free is to filter the air and maintain sterile conditions. That is expensive and difficult to do.
Also, homeowners are not going to have these types of setups, so the bread can get contaminated after it gets to their homes. Even if manufacturers can keep the bread sterile for packing, it can still go bad after purchase.
The Crust Defense
The best way to keep bread from becoming moldy is to create an environment where mold cannot grow. The first and best defense that bread has is the crust.
The bread crust is very dry. The water at the surface of the dough evaporates as the outer layers turn into crust. This means that any spores landing on the crust have no moisture to initiate spore germination. The thicker the crust, the stronger the defense. Since maltogenic amylase helps to create a better crust, it helps to reduce the chance of mold spore generation.
Is Maltogenic Amylase the Right Enzyme for bread Bakers?
Using specialized enzymes and other modern ingredients or techniques can require a great deal of research and planning. Some combinations synergize to create a beautiful product. Others work against each other to make something that is inedible.
Research and experimentation are needed to figure out exactly what bakers might need to improve their products. Maltogenic amylase is a common and well-researched enzyme additive. It is safe to use and has shown no allergic reaction potential so far. The enzyme can also save bakeries money with reduced spoilage and ingredient replacement. There are different maltogenic amylases though, with each their own most suitable application.
Enzyme Innovation, Extended shelf life, link ; I also want to thank the company’s representatives for their help and advice when reaching out to them!