Dry peas offer twice the protein of cereal grains, delivering 8 grams of high quality, low-fat, all vegetable protein per ¼ cup. Rich in lysine (i.e., a basic amino acid), dry peas and pea flour provide an amino acid balance that complements cereal grain proteins. Because of such benefits, pea flour and pea protein isolates and concentrates are ideal additions to protein-enriched baking applications.
Pea flour is also rich in slowly digestible starch and resistant starch, which contributes to its low glycemic index. In addition, this quality contributes to its strength as an ingredient in baked foods aimed at fighting obesity and meeting the needs of diabetics and those at risk for diabetes and heart disease.
Bakers are interested in pulse flours for another reason as well: as a natural, more economical and nutritious alternative to gums. Pea fiber fortifications not only enhance dough yield, they can also modify texture, create a full-bodied mouthfeel, improve uniformity and consistency, and reduce product breakage.
Its high water binding capacity, fat absorption, and dough conditioning properties also contribute to making pea fiber perfect for many baked products, especially low-fat or color-sensitive applications. By increasing wheat flour’s water absorption and easily substituting for up to 25 percent of wheat our in baked foods like cakes, cookies, and muffins, pea flour makes possible the development of products with up to 4 grams of fiber per serving.
Proprietary processes for producing insoluble pea fiber from the seed’s interior are also available. The resulting white powder, which is made up of 70 percent fiber, has emulsifying and gelling properties that make it especially useful when enriching white bakery products, without affecting color or flavor.
Also among the list of attractive benefits offered by pulses is the ingredient’s folate content. Typical of all legumes, pea flour can significantly reduce the need for additional folate fortification in baking formulations, with a single cup providing 37 percent of the recommended daily allowance. Because of its important role in preventing birth defects, folate enrichment is now a requirement for many U.S. baked products, including bread.
At just 2.5 percent fat—highly unsaturated fat—pea flour manages to be cholesterol free. This enables it to lend bakery products an enhanced nutritional value and structure, including improved crispness, loaf volume, and appearance. Finally, and of great importance to consumers, pre-cooked pulse flour can be an excellent way to improve the flavor in baked goods.Given the myriad benefits, it should be no surprise that pulses and their derivatives are increasingly finding their way into a diverse array of baked goods, from cookies to crackers, naan (i.e., a leavened, often tear-shaped Indian flatbread) to noodles.
Tortillas are proving a suitable application for processed legumes. A growing category, from 1994 to 2004 sales of tortillas doubled to approximately $6 million, a level fresh bread did not reach until 2005. The growth has been driven in part by the desire among American consumers for fast, healthier foods. The market has also been tirelessly pursuing new and exotic foods and flavors. A concentration on ethnic foods and low-carb options has further galvanized interest.
To meet this demand, producers are constantly innovating, creating a market defined by novel, creative tortilla formulations. More and more, consumers are able to choose from flavored, colored, and healthier tortilla options. Some tortilla alternatives include spinach, tomatoes, jalapenos, basil, cilantro, chilies, wheat, and other unique ingredients. One producer, WrapOlé, boasts some 16 different varieties.
Processed lentil flour and dehydrated lentil granules are being used, as are yellow pea and chickpea flour. As with other baked goods, the nutrition data illustrates distinct calorie, carbohydrate, protein, and fiber advantages from such additions.
Each pulse brings a slightly different flavor and color influence. Lentils provide a distinct flavor and color enhancement, while those with yellow peas are notable for their slight yellow color and greater sweetness. Chickpea flour, meanwhile, does not noticeably alter the color or flavor.
Given their familiar, neutral nature, tortillas give producers the opportunity to more effectively showcase the flavor, color, and texture improvements brought about by the addition of pulses.
Pulses are able to deliver heightened nutritional value without compromising the appearance, texture, or taste. Legume-enriched tortillas are also stable, durable, shippable, and not prone to rapid degradation. See pages 164–167 for sample tortilla formulations.
The expanding popularity of tortillas has helped spawn consumer interest in flat-breads. In some Middle Eastern breads, pulses are actually already part of the traditional recipes. With other flatbreads, pulses can contribute to improvements in a range of varieties, from crispy to bubbly to bready. Styles include lavosh, pita, focaccia, naan, arepa, paratha, bammi, barbari, gorditas, horo, injera, chapati, and sopes.
Like tortillas, pulse-fortified flatbreads benefit from a more balanced macronutritional profile (e.g., carbohydrates, protein, fat, etc.) than equivalent products and provide superior fiber and protein content. Pulses also contribute additional flavor and a degree of ingredient authenticity when incorporated into the production of naan and cracker flatbread. See pages 168-169 for sample flatbread formulations.
Rolls and Biscuits
Incorporating pea flour is an effective way to bolster the fiber and protein content in quick breads, rolls, and buns. In one example, U.S. food technologists added 30 percent pea flour to a conventional commercial burger bun formula and then optimized for moisture. The result was a bun with 4 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein. The product also achieved a delicious flavor while maintaining the product’s traditional texture and appearance. See pages 170–171 for sample formulations.
Other baking examples: Crackers
See a sample formulation on page 172.
See sample formulations on pages 173–174.
See pages 157–163 for other sample baking formulations.