BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA —The product of choice among Argentinian consumers is crustless pan bread, which they buy from small, artisan bakeries and eat as sandwiches. Important quality attributes of these loaves are a strong white color, a long shelf life and a fine, homogenous texture.
In the production process, special attention must be given to adequate mixing and carefully adjusted dough preparation to achieve the necessary uniform crumb structure.
Contrary to the widespread notion that Argentinians live mainly on rump steak and roasts, the 45 million inhabitants of that country eat far more wheat products than beef. According to the association of the Argentinian milling industry, Federación Argentina de la Industria Molinera (FAIM), annual flour consumption has increased to about 100 kg per capita in recent years.
Most bakeries are of the smaller, artisan type, and there are considerable differences between businesses in the mechanical equipment available and the proficiency of the employees. For most Argentinians, the daily trip to the baker is a matter of course; they see the advantages mainly in the low price and the freshness of the goods. Industrial products have no great significance in the bread sector at present. According to the association of the Argentinian bread industry, Federación Argentina de la Industria de Pan (FAIPA), the major part of the bread is baked by traditional methods.
Sandwich loaves are the standard
The favorite type of bread is light-colored, wheat pan loaves known as pan de miga (crumb bread) or pan inglés (English bread). These loaves generally are made for eating as sandwiches, rather like the Italian tramezzini or the traditional British teatime sandwiches. The characteristic feature of the products is the absence of a crust.
Pan de miga is baked in huge square or rectangular pans, for a weight of 8 to 12 kg, with a tightly fitting lid. The crust is then removed, and the bread is cut into very thin rectangles from which the typical sándwiches de miga can be made. While the most popular type is the classic one with ham and cheese, there are many other creative varieties on the market.
Since Argentina is strongly influenced by Anglo-Saxon customs, consumers have a preference for products baked from bleached flour, such as those that have been popular in the United Kingdom for many years. Therefore, one of the quality criteria for pan de miga is an extremely bright, white color of the crumb. The optimum flour has an ash content of less than 0.492%. Moreover, Argentinian food law permits the use of bleaches. In order to remove the color from the pigments naturally present in the flour, and thus increase the brightness of the flour and crumb, mills use benzoyl peroxide, which has an oxidative effect.
Since sandwich loaves are intended to hold various spreads and fillings, the structure of the crumb is important. It serves as a base for dressings like mayonnaise, so the texture must be homogenous and fine. All the doughs should have a firm but elastic consistency. Besides suitably adjusted mixing and adequate resting, the dough preparation process plays a key role, since the release of gases results in a finer, more uniform texture.
In the production of crumb bread, the dough is kneaded or rolled out vigorously and then rolled up. For fermentation it is divided into two or up to four parts, depending on the size of the pans, and placed in the greased molds. No more than one-third of the volume of the mold must be filled with dough. The molds are set on racks and placed in the rest cabinet. Final proofing takes place in the open pan. As soon as the dough has risen to two-thirds of the pan volume, the loaves can be put in the oven with the lids closed.
It is inadvisable to put bread of this kind in the oven with very advanced final proofing, since there is a risk that overpressure will build up in the pan under the tightly closed lid due to the formation and expansion of carbon dioxide. This may cause the loaf to burst when the lid is opened after baking. Once taken out of the oven, the lid is carefully removed from the pan, and the loaf is placed on a grid to cool.
A long shelf life
Argentinian consumers expect their pan loaves to stay fresh for several days. The bakeries have several options for meeting these requirements. Preservatives such as calcium propionate can be used to prevent mold and yeasts. The addition of fats, various emulsifiers and enzyme systems ensures a long shelf life and a pleasantly soft crumb for the products.
The following is a typical recipe for pan inglés/pan de miga:
- Flour 100 kg
- Salt 2 kg (max.)
- Fresh yeast 1.5 kg
- Fat 0 - 1 kg
- Water 53 – 58 l
In practice, some typical mistakes may occur in the production of pan de miga, which mainly affect the structure of the crumb and the shape of the loaves. The following is a brief overview of the most common faults and ways of avoiding them:
Problem: Deformed loaves, hollow sides.
Possible cause: Low-protein flour type (harina floja); over-fermentation.
Solution: Adjust mixing time; reduce fermentation time; increase the amount of ascorbic acid (ELCO P) and glucose oxidase (Alphamalt Gloxy 5080); add EMCEgluten Enhancer.
Problem: Slices are not square but have round corners.
Possible cause: Dough is too strong and does not fully fill the corners of the mold.
Solution: Intensify kneading; reduce the amount of oxidizing agent, or supplement enzymatic treatment with hemicellulase (Alphamalt H 19450) to help the dough relax.
Problem: Cracked sides.
Possible cause: Very high protein flour type (harina da fuerza).
Solution: Add hemicellulase (Alphamalt H 19450) or L-cysteine (EMCEsoft P) or increase the amount.
Problem: Large, unequal pores.
Possible cause: Sub-optimal processing.
Solution: Increase mixing time; add emulsifiers, like SSL (Mulgaprime SSL) or DATEM (Mulgaprime 90) or enzyme-based emulsifier replacers (Mulgazym SFX for SSL replacement, Mulgazym DFX for DATEM replacement).
Problem: Impairment of freshness characteristics during storage.
Possible cause: Rapid retrogradation of the starch.
Solution: Add emulsifiers or enzymatic treatment with alpha-amylases or maltogenic amylases (e.g. Alphamalt Fresh & Soft or Alphamalt F 15064).Sven Mattutat is a product manager with Mühlenchemie. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.