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Bread for success

Bread for success

Research at Teagasc Ashtown’s Food Quality & Sensory Science Department is examining ways to attain balanced breads that are both nutritious and delicious.

It can be challenging to achieve a perfect balance between a bread that’s high in both nutrients and in technological quality — i.e. in terms of volume, texture and taste. However, incremental changes and continuous improvements can lead to bread that is equally appealing in terms of nutrition and technological quality.

Barbara Biduski, a Research Officer at Teagasc Ashtown, explains: “Bread is a complex matrix, composed mainly of protein (gluten), starch, lipids and water. To achieve the desired balance between nutritional quality and technological properties, experimentation is required with different incorporation levels of ingredients, fermentation times and baking techniques.

“There are multiple factors that play into the technical aspects and sensory perception of bread. Thus, the challenge is to choose suitable ingredients that can enhance health benefits whilst maintaining a high quality for consumers.”

The selection of good quality flour is essential to ensuring a high quality loaf. Wholegrain flours can offer more nutrients and fibre compared to refined flours, and blending wholegrain flour with wheat flour can enhance both nutritional and baking properties. Incorporating sources of fibre or protein while controlling the substitution level of wheat flour can also increase nutritional value content with minor changes to the overall properties of the resulting bread.

Buckwheat is a highly nutritious pseudo-cereal that can contribute positively to both the nutritional quality and technological aspects of bread. It is rich in nutrients such as fibre, protein, vitamins (particularly B vitamins), minerals (magnesium, iron) and antioxidants. Barbara explains that applying buckwheat flour as a bread ingredient can significantly enhance its nutritional profile.

“In addition, buckwheat flour has a unique, slightly nutty flavour that can enhance the taste of bread. When used in moderation or in combination with other flours, buckwheat flour can help to enhance dough elasticity and structure and contribute to better baking properties.”

TResearch Spring 2024

Bread undergoing textural analysis

Bucking the trend

To address potential challenges such as loaf density or crumbliness, a research team from Teagasc Ashtown has been addressing the processing, rheological, structural and nutritive properties and the sensory challenges of incorporating buckwheat flour into a wheat bread model system.

As Barbara explains: “The findings revealed that buckwheat flour is viable as a partial substitute for wheat flour, causing non-significant changes in dough rheological behaviour and maintaining bread technological quality while enhancing its nutritional profile by increasing fibre content and amino acid profiles.”

Substituting up to 20% of wheat flour with buckwheat flour resulted in a bread exhibiting similar specific volume, internal structure, and texture profile as the control formulation (without buckwheat flour). However, increasing buckwheat levels to 30% led to a decrease in specific volume, a more compact internal structure and a firmer crumb during the staling process.

Increasing the level of buckwheat in the formulation decreased flour water absorption, dough stability and development time, with increased gluten weakening. The bread quality remained unchanged at levels of up to 20% buckwheat. Dietary fibre increased from 4.2% to 6.3% — particularly soluble fibre, which increased from 0.08% to 2.8%. There was an overall increase in total essential amino acids, particularly lysine, with the highest observed in the bread produced with a 30% of buckwheat flour.

Barbara adds: “From a nutritional perspective, lysine stands out among the buckwheat proteins due to its potential to lower cholesterol levels. Furthermore, buckwheat flour can increase satiety, lower postprandial blood glucose and insulin responses.”

The research team’s findings — which were recently published in the international journal Food Structure — highlight the potential of buckwheat flour as a promising alternative with which to re-design baked goods with enhanced nutritional value and satiety.  

TResearch Spring 2024

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This project is funded by the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). Project Acronym: InFoTech – Award number 2019R495.


Barbara Biduski, Research Officer, Food Quality & Sensory Science Department, Teagasc Ashtown. barbara.biduski@teagasc.ie
Eimear Gallagher, Head of Food Quality & Sensory Science Department, Teagasc Ashtown.

photo credit 1 Andrew Downes
photo credit 2 Barbara Biduski