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A Comeback for Soy-Based Bread?

By Jan Suszkiw
November 26, 2003

A musty, "beany" taste has kept consumers from liking soy-based breads. But chemist-turned-baker Randy Shogren has concocted a new dough formulation that may change their minds.

Shogren's bread-making is part of an effort to develop new, value-added uses for corn, soybeans, wheat and other crops at the Agricultural Research Service's National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Ill. There, Shogren figured out how to use soy flour to enrich the protein content of bread while minimizing its beany aftertaste, a feat that's eluded food technologists since the 1970s.

With technician Elizabeth Krietemeyer's help, Shogren prepared dough formulations containing five different ratios of defatted soy flour, whole and white-wheat flour. They added different amounts of ascorbic acid, sugar, salt, milk, water and vegetable shortening to the doughs and active dry yeast to leaven them. After baking the bread, they analyzed the taste and texture, observing that the yeast, extra sugar and ascorbic acid significantly reduced the soy's beany aftertaste. The three ingredients also enabled Shogren to produce loaves containing 30-40 percent soy flour and 112-127 grams of protein, compared to 65 grams for all-wheat bread.

Trained panelists at Kansas State University's Sensory Analysis Center who evaluated the breads found them comparable to all-wheat bread. Although the soy-based breads were slightly more dense, health-conscious consumers aren't likely to find the texture much different than multi-grain and other specialty breads, notes Shogren. He and ARS co-authors Craig Carriere and Abdellatif Mohamed recently published the results in the Journal of Food Science.

Besides grocery store shelves, the soy/wheat bread could prove especially welcome at local food assistance programs. Costing about 50 cents a loaf, the bread meets recommended daily values of protein, fat and carbohydrates, according to Shogren. Plus, it is high in total dietary fiber and heart-healthy compounds such as isoflavones. The soy/wheat bread is easily prepared with standard bread-making equipment.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.