Motto for Bakery Industry

Health consciousness among the consumers is moving them away f r o m highly processed products containing artificial ingredients and flavours. In response to the consumer demand and over-arching wellness trends, bakery industry in India has increased the availability of baked goods like high fibre breads, low fat breads. Bakeries are now paying more attention towards baking gluten-free products, using natural sweeteners. Many bread, pastry and other bakery items like muffins et al have been introduced with added benefits of health friendliness.  Any new entrepreneur has, today, to take into consideration the prevailing trend of healthy products and ensure that his outlet is able to deliver items that would appeal to the health conscious consumer.  Ashok Malkani tries to find out how bakeries have responded to the increasing demand for healthy bakery products.  

Bakery products have gained popularity globally due to their pleasant taste and health benefits. The consumption level has increased over the years and the market for bakery products, according to ResearchAndMarkets.com, is projected to exceed $ 12 billion by 2024, expanding at a CAGR of 9.3% during 2019-2024.

With health consciousness increasing, bakery products which were, till a few years ago, said to be not health beneficial due to usage of fat and other unhealthy inputs has undergone a sea change. The bakers have concentrated on offering healthy products. Reduction of fats and calories has been in focus. So how have they managed to achieve these objectives? 

Ajay Anand, Director of Culinary, Pullman and Novotel New Delhi Aerocity, states, “Fat and calories can be reduced by using sugar-free products, low-fat desserts, fruit bases in products, organic and natural products, low-fat butter and almond milk while making baked good.”

Rajat Sachdev, Pastry Chef, Sofitel Mumbai BKC, disclosed, “It is a challenge to reduce calories f r o m baked goods, as most of them have a sweet edge. However, the best way to reduce the proportion of calories f r o m baked goods is to use natural substitutes such as jaggery, honey, coconut sugar and more. Additionally, one could molecularly analyse the carbohydrate and fat levels, to bring down the calorie count.” 

Manjul Myne, Pastry Chef, JW Marriott Chandigarh, declares, “There are various simple ways in which fat and calories can be reduced in baked goods. Some of them are: 

Using less sugar or by substituting it with ingredients like Jaggery, Palm Sugar, etc.

Substituting whole-wheat flour for half or all white flour

Using fat free sour cream instead of butter. By replacing half of the butter with sour cream, about 50% of calories can be reduced 

Using natural form of ingredients instead of the processed form. While making chocolate based baked goods, one can substitute chocolate with cocoa powder with canola oil

Using superfood ingredients like Avocado, Apple sauce, Greek yoghurt, Flax seeds, Banana, Quinoa, etc.”

Alok Singh- Chef De Partie, Crowne Plaza Pune City Centre says, “Fats and calories can be reduced in bakery products by using natural sweeteners or flavors like fruits, juices. One should also use natural pulps instead of canned products.” 

K S Mahesh, Senior Executive Chef, Radisson Blu Resort Goa Cavelossim Beach, however, is of the opinion that some of the products like a classic croissant or a doughnut would not taste the same without butter. “But,” he adds, “for people who require baked goods with low fat we can replace with products such as low fat milk, low fat butter and sugar free products. There are a wide range of products readily available on shelves of stores, thanks to the influence of western culinary ideology in today’s world.”

Mahesh Padala, Executive Chef, The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace, disclosed, “Today, guests, due to increasing problems of chronic diseases and obesity, are concerned about consumption of fats and calories. Chefs thus need to brainstorm and develop new menus. Healthier changes are being brought in by chefs such as:

  • Using whole wheat flour
  • Using fat free mascarpone, light creamy Philadelphia
  • Serving small portions 
  • Making in-house purees to help reduce calories, like apricot, prunes
  • Making chia seed options available for vegan meals
  • Using no calorie sweeteners
  • Incorporating coconut cream as a substitute to whipped cream” 

Rahul Shetty, Junior Sous Chef, Bengaluru Marriott Whitefield believes that one can replace the fat with the vegetable fat like margarine or by using soya products. “As far as sugar is concerned,” he adds, “it can be replaced with sugar-free sugar or natural sugars like jiggery & honey, but the taste and the flavour of the product will vary.”

Ashutosh Gairola, Bakery Head Chef, Renaissance Bengaluru Race Course Hotel, states, “Reducing calories in baked foods is a lot like balancing an equation. An ingredient must be subtracted f r o m the formulations - usually a carbohydrate or fat - to bring down the count. Those ingredients are not just empty calories; they serve a purpose in the formulation. Something must be added to mimic that functionality without ramping up the calorific content. There are two main strategies: replacing carbohydrates or replacing fats.”

Vikas Vibhuti, Cluster Executive Pastry Chef, JW Marriott Pune, cautions, “Always remember, butter or fat plays a vital role in improving the palate and overall feel of a product as does sugar, for the level of sweetness. So, altering the recipe or ingredients will surely have some adverse effect on the taste and texture aspect, however the health quotient will definitely increase. 

A few tips to reduce the overall fat or calories in baked goods can be as follows:

  • Use of coconut oil instead of refined oil 
  • Replace oil with yogurt - a minimum of 50% for recipes of cupcakes or brownies 
  • Use soy milk, skimmed milk or low-fat milk instead of full fat milk
  • Replace whole eggs with equal amounts of egg white
  • Use honey wherever possible
  • Reducing the quantity of fat or sugar by 25%”

Pradeep Rawat, Sous Chef, JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa, declares, “Fat and calories can be reduced by using low fat ingredients such as low fat butter and yoghurt, multigrain flour instead of normal flour. Using fresh and organic ingredients we can also reduce the calories of the product. “

Virender Rathore, Pastry Sous Chef, Sheraton Hyderabad Hotel Gachibowli, reveals, “Using organic ingredients helps reduce fat levels and calories in baked goods. Coconut oil, sunflower oil, dairy-free cream, sugar-free and low fat ingredients can be used while baking to maintain lower fat levels.”

Niklesh Sharma, Founder, Academy of Pastry Arts, is of the opinion that a baker can help a person maintain his diet by not using artificial colouring and using less sugar in his products. Bakeries can bake cakes that do not contain eggs. Using natural ingredients to bake is one of the most effective ways to bake foods low in fat and calories. Another way is by using whey protein in place of eggs and gluten.”

Waqar Ahmed, Pastry Chef, Hilton Bangalore Embassy GolfLinks, says, “Fat and calorie content can be reduced in baked goods by: 

Replacing a part of fat with moist ingredient like fruit puree, mashed banana, orange juice, fat free sour cream or light cream cheese. 

Replacing Sugar with low calorie, natural sweetener or by adding spices or flavouring agents.” 

Gopal Jha, Executive Chef, Grand Mercure Bangalore states, “We can replace ingredients used in desserts with healthier & nutritious products in order to reduce the fat and the calorie content. For instance, sugar can be replaced with jaggery, millets or nut-based meal can be swapped with flour and fresh fruit juice with sugar syrup.”

Neelabh Sahay, Executive Chef, Novotel Kolkata Hotel & Residences, avers, “Fat & calories can be reduced by using fibre rich ingredients such as pumpkin, pumpkin seed, ground flax seed, Chia Seed, Psyllium husk and similar. Regarding the usage of fat, we should move to Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) which will make the product healthier. Both come f r o m plant sources, although PUFA also includes cold-water fish, shrimp, crab, lobster, and haddock.”

Avinash Kumar, Executive Chef, Novotel Imagica Khopoli adds, “Skim milk yogurt, almond milk, flax seed, ricotta cheese, millet flour, dairy free cheese are the alternative ingredients used these days to reduce calories in bakery goods.”

Siva Kumar, Pastry Chef, ibis & Novotel Bengaluru Techpark  says that fats and calories could be reduced by using whole wheat flour and egg substitutes besides using less sugar and fat.

Rajesh Yadav, Sous Chef, Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport avers that you can replace fat with moist substance like fat-free sour cream, applesauce, light cream cheese, or orange juice and cut calories by using less sugar, or by substituting a no-calorie sweetener. 

Sheriyar Dotivala, Executive Chef,The Resort Mumbai, explicates, “There are three basic methods to cut calories in baking recipes. They are: Use less sugar, Use less fat and eat smaller servings. 

Benefits of Millets  

Millets, a group of small seeded plants which has been consumed in the subcontinent for centuries have recently captured the imagination of health conscious eaters around the globe. India, the largest producer of millets in the world celebrated 2018 as the National Year of Millets. In India, it is increasing its presence in bakeries, which are paying heed to rising demand for healthy products by the consumers. 

K S Mahesh states that millets have been a staple diet of the Hunzas, inhabitants of the remote Himalayan foothills, who are known for their longevity. “Millets are made of 15% protein and has very low content of sugars hence it makes a healthy choice of people. Millet also has high quantities of magnesium which helps to lower high blood pressure and reduce heart attack hence it’s ideal to have millet based meal for breakfast. They can be for making various bakery products such as cookies, muffins and pancakes. Millet is also good gluten free option,” he continues, “and I personally feel millet is ideal for flat breads like roti its golden colour makes it look buttery rich!” 

Ajay adds, “Millennial’s are health conscious that has led to a rise in the demand of nutrient-rich cereals. Millets are cereal crops and small seed grasses; they play a pivotal role in preventing and curing several health issues. These are enriched with the goodness of nature and are a rich source of fibre and minerals such as magnesium, phosphorous, iron, calcium, zinc and potassium. Further, millets can be used in grain bread, cookies, granola bars, dry cakes, nutty bars and gateaux.”

Mahesh Padala states, “With healthy food revolutions in the market and customers becoming more health conscious, there has been a high demand on nutrient-rich cereals and grains. Millets, one of the shortest grain, was commonly served to fauna but now customers have understood the health benefits of millets including iron, calcium, phosphorus, and zinc. Millets have a unique taste with a high amount of starch, and bakeries have also introduced innovated cereals like ragi, jowar and bhajra.”

Rahul disclosed, “Millets are extremely nutritious and good for health. They also have a long shelf life. Millets make for a perfect healthy meal. In fact, it is often advised to prepare millets in the form of porridge, breads for growing kids and aging adult’s as they are loaded with high amount of starch and proteins, which can be beneficial.”

Ashutosh reveals, “There are about ten different varieties of millet, some of which are also called sorghum. Millet has no gluten and thus it’s ideal for coeliacs (those with gluten allergies), millet is high in protein so it is best suited for vegetarians and vegans, and is “alkalising” which means it balances the acidity of diet that is low in fruit and vegetables and high in simple carbohydrates and meat protein.”

Vikas declares, “Millets, which are high on dietary fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, are majorly used in breads, crackers and cookies.”

Pradeep avers, “Using a diverse range of flours in baking is revolutionary and exciting and opens the doors to a whole new world of possibilities.  Millets, which are gluten-free and are enriched with the goodness of nature, are a rich source of fiber and minerals like magnesium, phosphorous, iron, calcium, zinc and potassium. Millets are exceedingly versatile and can be used in several dishes.” 

Virender, informs that they are a good source of antioxidants packed with dietary fibers. Millets are particularly high in minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, and can be used in preparing breads, sponge cake and granola bars.

Niklesh elaborating on their health benefits says, “They are good for those suffering f r o m coronary artery disorder and help reduce the risk of colon cancer. They also help prevent celiac disease and are a good source of antioxidants. Millets also help in weight loss, help lower blood pressure, and help control diabetes. If that weren’t enough they help slow muscle degeneration as well. Millets can be used to make healthy cakes. This can be done by using replacing flour with millets.”   

Avinash disclosed Millets could be stored for years as they had a long shelf life. “Besides its protein and vitamin content, millet is a hypoallergenic (low-allergy), gluten-free grain. As such, it is a perfect alternative to wheat. Millet flour can be used in making gluten free cookies, puddings and cakes.”

Siva, citing its benefits, disclosed, “At our hotel, ibis & Novotel Bengaluru Techpark, we have introduced a new pizza option in which the base is completely made f r o m millets, and guests can enjoy the toppings of their choice f r o m the menu available. This dish ensures there is a balance between health and indulgence.”

Rajesh reveals, “Since ages, millets were commonly used to feed birds and animals, until the health benefits of theses super foods were known to the world. Gluten free millets can play a pivotal role in preventing and curing several health issues.” 

Rajat says, “Millet flour makes for great nutrition-filled and flavourful baked goods. Millet flour is inherently gluten-free and adds a savoury and subtle flavour to its recipes. It is a perfect ingredient for healthy offerings such as millet-infused cookies, crackers, millet-pasta, muffins, millet-banana bread, pancakes, scones and more. Adding millet to these recipes makes them light and fluffy, with a sweet, corn-like flavour. Today majority of the consumer’s meals are consumed keeping in mind the health conscious factor, at Sofitel Mumbai BKC we have introduced an array of healthy cookies such as Sugar-free Fat-free, Gluten-free and Eggless Cookies.”

Manjul maintains, “Millet is actually a seed which is generally referred to as a grain because of its grain-like consistency.  They are not just packed with minerals and vitamins, but are also gluten-free. They are being widely used in products like Breads, Cookies, Tea Time snacks, Breakfast cereals, Crackers, Gluten free breads, etc.”

Alok avers, “Millet is high in protein and is a good source of the minerals phosphorous and magnesium, as well as B vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and B6. Also, besides its protein and vitamin content, millet is a hypoallergenic (low-allergy), gluten-free grain.” 

Use of Multiple Grains 

As consumers grow more health conscious, white flour for bread has found several replacements. You have whole wheat bread, multigrain breads, etc. Jowar, bajra, etc are also finding favour in several other bakery products. With bakeries becoming more health conscious the ingredient manufacturers are also taking note and, with the help of bakers, introducing new products to meet their demands.     

Rajat states, “Jowar is a powerhouse of nutrients as it is a high source of calcium, vitamin B and dietary fiber. The kernels of these grains are grounded into flour that can be used as a substitute for wheat and plain flour in baked goods, such as pancakes, breads, waffles and more. Bajra or pearl millet, that is widely used in Indian cuisine and filled with iron and calcium, is a popular trend amongst consumers looking for healthy bakery options. At our hotel, Sofitel Mumbai BKC, these flours are used to curate various baking products like breads, cookies, muffins, biscuits and more.

Manufacturers at the start of the buying cycle are sometimes unaware of end consumers’ preferences and needs. It would be beneficial, if ingredient manufacturers keep themselves up-to-date with the evolving trends of healthy baked goods. At the basic level, it is essential that all the ingredients are sourced f r o m reliable producers who comply with health regulations and avoid usage of excessive pesticides. Secondly, healthy substitutes such as whole grains, nuts, and fruits must be leveraged in place of unhealthy ingredients. At Sofitel Mumbai BKC, we use home-made fillings for all our bakery products instead of adding artificial agents.”

Alok avers “Grains like jowar, bajra, etc. are useful in creating healthy bakery products. We, at Crowne Plaza Pune City Centre, use a lot of grains in our breads, muffins, salads & as daily breakfast cereals, porridges, soups etc.

I would suggest that the ingredient manufacturers use less of preservative products which have high sugar & chemical levels.”

Manjul adds, ”I have been experimenting with different grains in my kitchen since a long time. Grains   like Pearl Millet, Foxtail Millet, Sorghum Millet, Finger Millet, etc. are being used in our kitchen at JW Marriott Chandigarh, for making end products like Breads, Cookies, pudding, etc.

I feel the way forward in the Bakery industry is to use the freshest and purest ingredients in the market. A good initiative in this regard has been the organic labeling program that has made sure that authentic goods are being labeled and made available in the market. Hence, my only suggestion to all the ingredient manufacturers is to produce more and more of organic ingredients which will ensure a healthy end-product for the consumer.”

Sheriyar cites the benefits of different grains thus:

Jowar: It is gluten-free, rich in fibre, high on protein, full of iron and packed with vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. It controls blood sugar levels and is good for bone health.

Bajra: Is good for your heart. It lowers your bad cholesterol and helps control the glucose receptors in your body thus preventing diabetes. Being rich in fibre it helps prevent breast cancer. Bajra also detoxifies your body due to the antioxidants. It can also help clear up random toxins f r o m your body such as the ones that are present in your liver and kidney. Bajra also helps with digestion.

Rajesh iterates, “Flours f r o m different grains like jowar, bajra, etc are healthy. We use all these flours in our bakery, in Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport, and make healthy breads for our guests. We have introduced gluten free bread which is made with combination of flours like bajra, jowar and rye which gives the bread a unique taste and also becomes an option for people who are gluten allergen.

Guests ask for products that provide both taste and nutritional value, giving pleasure while helping to maintain health and wellbeing. Industrial bakers are opting for chocolate fillings with enhanced nutritional profiles. Consumers often look for healthy options, such as preservative-free products, natural colors and flavours.”

Siva says, “We can make healthy products like cookies and breads with grains like jowar and bajra.

To help the bakers in their efforts to make healthy products the ingredient manufacturers should provide nutrition information, allergens, best before, food additives, and other information on the packaging. This information will ensure the end consumer is completely aware about the product details. Manufacturers can also share the information about where the ingredients are sourced, in case of natural products.” 

Avinash too agrees with the others that grains like Bajra, jowar, etc. can produce healthy bakery products. “To help the bakers in their efforts for healthy bakery products the ingredient manufacturers should provide them with good quality raw material, free f r o m pesticides,” he adds.  

Neelabh disclosed that the bakery at Novotel Kolkata Hotel & Residences had been using bajra, jowar and other healthy grains since the last two year. 

He added, “We have to work together with raw ingredient manufacturers to ensure safe and healthy food product to the consumers. For this, we have to make sure that all the ingredients that we procure should be organically grown.”

Gopal revealed that at Grand Mercure Bangalore, these grains were used extensively in their food offerings especially in breakfast. “We use them in preparing dosa, pancakes, cookies, bread, museli, cupcakes and more.”

Waqar claims that at Hilton Bangalore Embassy GolfLinks flours of Ragi, maize, barley, oats and millets have been included in production of breads, cookies and muffins as options. 

He adds, “In order to produce healthy end-products raw material manufacturers should use good quality and certified core materials.” 

Niklesh asserts, “Grains like jower and bajra are useful to create healthy bakery products because such flour is unprocessed and when used as gluten is good for health-conferring benefits. At Academy of Pastry Arts we teach our students to make healthy food by using different grains, including bajra and jowar. As a skilled bakery chef, I would suggest that manufacturers use ingredients that undergo as little artificial processing as possible. In fact, I believe that unprocessed ingredients when used as ingredients produce the healthiest foods. 

Manufacturers who supply bakeries with ingredients that are natural have a good chance of succeeding in the future as more people join the health bandwagon.”  

Virender disclosed “At Sheraton Hyderabad Hotel Gachibowli,  we enjoy experimenting with new and innovative ingredients in the kitchen. Jowar and bajra flours are extensively used in our breads, pastries, baguettes, focaccia and granola bars.

“At JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa we use a local millet which is known as mandua, to prepare various dishes like, cookies, puddings and cakes and they always draw in appreciation f r o m all our guests. We call it the show-stopper!”

Vikas claims flours f r o m different grains are amongst the healthiest options available. At JW Marriott Pune, we keep using most of the produce to make various bread combinations, cookies and crackers. Most often we use jowar /sorghum flour, bajra /pearl millet, ragi/ finger millet, jau/ barley and gram flour. They have plenty of health benefits and do wonders on various health parameters. As far as raw material is concerned, my advice to all parties would be to go local! India has an abundance of key ingredients available throughout the country and we can source ingredients directly f r o m our farmers. This will make a big impact on the end product.”

Ashutosh claims that he is an aficionado of using grains like jowar, bajra for creating healthy bakery products. “I would suggest we use locally grown ingredients, healthy substitutes of butter, whole wheat, ragi and other healthy flours instead of refined flours,” he adds.

Rahul states grains that like jowar, bajra are one of the staple diets in India which have an extremely high nutrition value. At Bengaluru Marriott Whitefield, we create multiple breads, breakfast pastries, stuffed rotis and pancake with this flour.” 

Mahesh believes that healthy flours are creating healthy bakery products and it is experimented in hotel bakery stores. “We at The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace have curated a special ‘Sleep Well’ menu laying strong emphasis on dishes which induce a good night’s sleep, with highest nutritional values like: oatmeal tabbouleh, oatmeal muffins and gluten free bread.

Ajay asserts “Grains like Bajra Jowar, et al. are superfoods which are a rich source of nutrients. At Pullman and Novotel New Delhi Aerocity we have already started using them in our products such as multigrain bread, millet sponge, grain granola bar, seven-grain cookies and mixed grain honey dry cake.”

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