Learn about the challenges in manufacturing safe and scrumptious gluten-free baked goodies. From sourcing gluten-free, allergy-friendly ingredients free-from cross contamination, to dealing with sticky batters, gluten-free baking is a tricky process.
Discover the trials and many errors our head of Product Development, Stela Moskona-Sziron goes through to make everything from delightul donuts to marvelous muffins. Even if it takes her a couple of years for each new product.
Stela loves her job, it's full of challenges and every day she faces something new. The reward is keeping up with market trends and coming up with something new no body else has.
To get there though, she has to go through a long process with the team. First a feasability study is needed to see if Kinnikinnick already has the equipment and ingredients needed in order to make the product. That can be a tough call considering how many strict requirements we place on potential ingredients. They have to be free from gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts, peanuts and soy. Also GMO free and kosher to boot. In tough supply chain times, like post-Covid for example, we might need to loosen some of our super-tight restrictions in order to be able to get product.
New production technologies often have to be created because dealing with gluten-free dough is very different from gluten doughs. Gluten-free doughs tend to be a lot stickier so machines and processes need to be adapted to take the different conistencies into account.
Gluten binds the doughs together and also absorbs water. Without it, in the gluten-free world, those characteristics need to be replaced, which is where gums and cellulose come in. The improvements in cellulose over the last twenty years, Stela explains, mean that we've been able to come up with recipes for bread that are light and consistent with regular gluten-filled competition.
Another challenge is that in the gluten-free world there is hundreds of years of knowledge going into the perfect bake, thousands of books, courses, and legendary chefs coming up with culinary delights. In the gluten free world there's just a few decades of knowledge and many of the processes are closely guarded secrets. This means that for product development managers like Stela, they have to go through many extra layers of trial and error before they come up with the perfect recipe. Also, because of the differences in batter stickiness and consistency, it can mean making the perfect trial on the bench, but failure when it comes to the industrialisation level. For a development manger that means an important skill is patience, stamina and the will to fail, yet get up again and again, and try something new. Again and again until the product is perfect.
That means it usually takes a shorter amount of time to create a product similar to one already in the line-up. Changing a colour or a flavour can usually be done in few months, given that shelf-life testing can be compressed time-line wise.
But when it comes to creating a totally new product, with a new flavour profile, new ingredients and totally new technology, that kind of process can take anything from two years or more. It took us about that long to create our new Traditional English Muffins. But given the response from customers all over the continent the reformulation to a recipe without eggs has been totally worth it. Using a new chickpea flour we hadn't tried before, we discovered how beautifully the muffins pop out of a toaster, crispy, crunchy, light and fluffy, full of nooks and crannies to slather butter or hollandaise into.