Dr. Lutz Popper, head of our research department
Dr. Lutz Popper, head of our research department

Hemicellulases split hemicelluloses, i.e. constituents of the cell walls of plants. They are used as baking enzymes to improve the properties of doughs.
Hemicellulases split hemicelluloses, i.e. constituents of the cell walls of plants. They are used as baking enzymes to improve the properties of doughs

Our expert knowledge in your service

This section is updated regularly to keep you informed of the latest research and its findings. We will also be pleased to answer your questions.

Can I use flour with 12% protein for biscuits, crackers and wafers?

Although flour with less than 10% protein is more suitable for many types of biscuits, crackers and wafers, good results can often be achieved with a higher protein content. If gluten is formed during processing it is important to ensure adequate dough softening; this can be done with reducing agents or enzymes. For wafers the protein has to be destroyed in order to prevent the formation of lumps. In this case a higher protein content results in products with a finer texture, less breakage and less water migration. It is only necessary to use starch to reduce the protein content if a very tender, melting structure is required.

What vitamins does the wheat kernel contain?

The main vitamins are B1, B2, B6, niacin and pantothenic acid; these are largely present in the germ and seed coat. The vitamins A, B12 and C are not present at all; a few others are only found in traces.

Are the vitamins in the grain stable?

Yes, as long as the grain is undamaged. The influence of the pH, atmospheric oxygen, light and temperature – i.e. the conditions under which the grain in milled – reduce the content. Folate may be lost altogether. In the case of bakers’ flours a loss of 70 – 90 % has to be reckoned with as compared to whole meal. The higher the mineral content of the flour, the more vitamins are preserved.

What are composite flours? What are they designed and produced for?

Tuberous plants rich in starch such as cassava, yams and sweet potatoes that grow in the dry regions of the world are not suitable for making conventional baked products on their own, but they can be put to good use in combination with wheat flour. This encourages the growing of local plant species, saves on hard currency and improves the supply of protein to the population.

What is rheology?

Rheology is the branch of physics that deals with the elastic and plastic properties of systems and their flow characteristics. When combined with water, flour forms more or less viscous systems that solidify when baked. The science of rheology can provide information on quality in both states – baked and unbaked.

What conclusions can be drawn from the Falling Number?

The Falling Number determines the viscosity of a flour-and-water suspension heated to just below boiling point by measuring the time a pestle takes to sink through the gelatinized starch. Low Falling Numbers indicate a degraded gel. The higher the Falling Number, the better are the remaining viscosity and the processing characteristics. A low Falling Number is accompanied by a high level of amylases naturally present in the grain; it is therefore an indication of sprouting.

What influence do fungal amylases have on the Falling Number?

In the concentrations at which they are normally used in flour treatment, added fungal amylases have scarcely any effect on the Falling Number since they are heat-labile and inactivated by heating. Fungal amylase can be determined with a modified version of the Falling Number measuring device (in which the final temperature can be set).

How can I reduce the Falling Number?

Only enzymes with a certain heat-stability, e.g. cereal or bacterial amylases, have an effect on the conventional Falling Number method. Since most bacterial amylases are too thermostable and would therefore survive the baking process and liquefy the crumb of the bread, cereal amylases in the form of malt flour or malt flour extracts have to be used. Although fungal amylases cannot be detected in the Falling Number tests they nevertheless enhance the baked products.

How can I increase the Falling Number?

By reducing the yield in order to remove those layers of the wheat kernel that have a higher amylase content, or by using a buffer to shift the pH into a range that is no longer optimal for the enzyme. Although a higher Falling Number may seem desirable to achieve certain specified flour properties, it is important to keep the bakeability of the flour and the attributes of the end product in mind.

Can I risk buying wheat with a Falling Number below 200 s?

Yes, if you can blend it with wheat with a higher Falling Number. You can determine the falling number of a blend by the following method:
Use the following formula to calculate the Falling Number index (FNI) of the two flours to be blended ( ) and the desired Falling Number of the blend:

2. Calculate the ratio of the two flours in the blend with the aid of the FNI, e.g. using the rule of three or the following formulae:

PA and PB are the proportions (absolute values) of flours A and B in the blend, expressed in parts. Together, the parts make up 100%. The proportion of flour A in the blend, expressed in percent, would therefore be:
Formel ,

 and that of flour B:
Formel .

The blend thus calculated should be tested with the Falling Number device before it is used at the mill.

Can I risk buying wheat with a Falling Number above 400 s?

Yes. In fact many wheat varieties from Australia and North America do have an FN in this range. The reduced fermentation capability can easily be increased with enzyme preparations. But beware of lots from regions that do not normally supply wheat with a high Falling Number: the high FN may be a sign of heat damage.

Can I buy wheat with a Falling Number above 600 s?

Although they are fairly rare, Falling Numbers above 600 s can occur in healthy wheat, especially in lots from Australia. Nevertheless, attention should be given to the gluten properties: a very short or – worse still – a crumbly gluten would mean heat damage.