Sometimes something super-old is suddenly super-hip! That’s the case with some types of wheats in the baking industry which are seeing a comeback. This is driven by a growing consumer trend towards healthy breads made with so-called ancient wheat varieties such as spelt, einkorn and emmer.
“Consumers perceive these ancient wheats as healthier, more natural and better for them,” says Dr. Sven Schönenberg, Technical Service Manager Food & Baking at Novozymes. “Breads baked with these flours fit well with their healthy lifestyle. That’s good news for our baking customers and for us.”

Making a comeback

Ancient wheats are perceived as being more ‘natural’ than today’s modern wheat, which is often refined and where the wheat is bred to meet specific baking needs. Although no official definition exists, ancient wheats are considered to be original, natural and unchanged over the last several hundred years.
They’ve become so popular that new product launches of breads of ancient wheat varieties have more than tripled in the last five years. This trend is most prominent in northern and eastern Europe, but it’s also growing globally.
The baking industry is trying to meet consumers’ demands for different varieties of healthy breads, while managing costs and raw material quality.
“However, the challenge is that these ancient wheats varieties are much harder to process than modern wheats. Bakers typically get lower volume breads that are very dense – not what consumers expect,” Dr. Sven Schönenberg says.

Ancient wheats meet biotech

Adding enzymes to the baking process solves these problems. The breads become soft, elastic, moist, and have a fine crumb structure that consumers have come to expect.
For example, fresh-keeping enzymes deliver softness and moistness throughout shelf life while dough conditioning enzymes increase bread volume and improve crumb structure. Dough strengthening optimizes these important bread characteristics even further, while gluten strengthening enzymes provide better dough stability.
Read more about the Novozymes solutions for baking.
“We are currently working with some of the biggest customers in this industry to help them differentiate their products in the market. It’s about being able to offer consumers different varieties of breads that are healthy, look great and taste delicious,” Dr. Sven Schönenberg adds.
Come and hear our Technical Service Scientist Dr. Frank Rittig speak about effects of enzymes in bread made from 100% ancient wheats at the upcoming BIET conference in Barcelona next week, followed by a sensory workshop conducted by our Bakery Manager Silvia Strachan.