The Basic Raw Materials

1. What are the basic raw materials in the bakery and what are their characteristics?


The most important raw material in the bakery is the flour, which is obtained by grinding the inner part of the grain. Flour can also be made from other such as rye, oats, barley, millet, buckwheat, corn, of which wheat is the most important and most widely used. Wheat flour has many different types and will influence the quality of your end product.

The average composition of wheat flour:
68% Starch
13% Protein
15% Water
2% Mineral substances
2% Fat

Wheat flour contains two distinct proteins: “gliadin” and “glutenin”. These proteins are insoluble in water and form gluten during kneading. These gluten helps dough to rise, and ensure the elasticity and consistency of the dough. Higher gluten content in the flour traps more gas during proofing and yields a lighter, higher loaf. Flour with high gluten content is called strong flour. Most bread recipes, especially croissant you need a strong flour (protein content at least 11%), because it must be fluffy and airy.

Proteins form gluten, and you can imagine this as a network of protein substances. These are tough and stretchy and have the property of holding together other ingredients such as water and starch. Gluten is therefore very important for a resilient dough and to obtain a resilient dough.

Another factors, that are important for the flour quality are “the degree of extraction” and “the ash content”. The higher ash content indicates that the flour contains more of the germ, bran and the outer endosperm. Lower ash content means that the flour is more highly refined. This can also determines the color of the flour, the water- binding capacity and the protein percentage.


Water performs several functions in a dough:
- without water there is no connection of the ingredients and the formation of dough would be impossible.
- carrier of inorganic salts and natural chemical compound (yeast nutrient and dough acidity).
- maintain the temperature of dough.
- distribution of the heat through the bread during baking.
- freshness of the baked products.


We add salt to a dough to improve the taste and flavour, it also aids in the gluten development process. Salt also regulates the fermentation process. Its addition controls yeast growth, which resulting nice and even crumb structure.


The principle raw material used in bakery is yeast. Yeast is a single-cell organism that is obtained industrially by enriching molasses with nitrogen and phosphorus salts, vitamins and minerals. There are couple varieties of yeasts, “brewer’s yeast” a liquid yeast used primarily for fermentation processes in alcoholic beverages, like beer & wine, and “baker’s yeast” that is suitable for the bakery sector.

Baker’s yeast comes in several forms. Fresh yeast, active dry yeast and instant yeast. Fresh yeast is most commonly used by professional bakers. Active dry yeast and instant yeast are dried yeasts that have a longer shelf life and inexpensive.

In bread making, yeast provides a specific flavour to the dough. The most important property of yeast is that it converts sugar in the dough into carbon dioxide, and ensures the dough to expand or rise as gas (carbon dioxide) forms air pockets or bubbles, giving the baked product a soft and spongy texture.


Eggs plays an important role in bread preparations and confectionery. Eggs functions and benefits are as follow, a binder, a volume enhancer, a colorant, a firming agent, an adhesive and emulsifier.

Whole egg, as well as yolks or egg whites are available separately. The advantage of this is of course saves you a lot of work, when you are using large amount of eggs. No broken shells in the mixture, and no yolk in the egg whites which is important because in some preparations, it is necessary that there is no egg yolk in your egg whites.

Another possibility is egg powder. This is also available as whole egg, egg yolk and egg white. The down side is that they are very expensive, and the up side is that the shelf life is much longer.


When the cow is milked, we obtain raw milk. From here, the baker can already purchase raw milk from the farmer. it is important to immediately place the milk in a clean refrigerator, because milk that has not been pasteurised can carry harmful bacteria and other germs. Usually, milk is collected by the dairy, which will then package and treat the milk for longer shelf life.

Milk contains milk fat, and these fats provide energy. The essential nutrients in milk are calcium, protein, carbohydrates and vitamin B12.

As a baker you can purchase milk as raw milk, as pasteurised milk or as milk powder.

Milk powder is obtained by removing the water present in the milk. You will get around 1/7 of milk powder out of the total weight of the milk.

Important of milk powder is that it has longer shelf life than liquid milk. If properly packaged and stored in a cool dry place, it can last for years. Further more, it will help to free up space in your refrigerator.


Butter is often used in bread recipes. It provides not only taste and flavour, it also makes baked goods much softer and tender in texture. Butter is obtained from cow's milk, and it can also made out of milk from goats, sheep and other mammals.

Butter contains 82–84 percent milk fat, and the rest is mostly water. It’s consistency changes depending on the temperature.

Margarine consists of vegetable and animal fats. Margarine is also widely use in baking industry, because it was developed as an inexpensive butter substitute. Nowadays, the composition of the margarines has been so refined that there is a range for different applications and preparation methods for certain recipes.


There are different types of sugars, each with a slightly different effect. For example, some sugar dissolves slower and others faster. Using the right sugars in certain recipes where the difference in taste is very important, and also to obtain good structure in a baked product.

These are the most commonly used sugars in the bakery:
Cane - Beet Sugar (sucrose)
Milk Sugar (lactose)
Grape Sugar or Dextrose (glucose)
Fruit Sugar or Levulose (fructose)

Cane or beet sugar is the most famous and is usually used in the form of crystals. The sweetness value is 100. Sugar adds or provides sweet taste, colouring and the crispness to a baking product.

Cane or beet sugar is also available in powder form (powdered/icing sugar). Powdered sugar dissolves faster, which is important for some applications in some recipes. The coarseness of the crystal sugar comes in different types (castor sugar, fine sugar, ultra fine sugar, names may change depending on production from the manufacturer in each country). Their application depends on the intended result.

Glucose is also referred to as dextrose. We often find glucose in bread improvers. Glucose can be used in certain confectionery recipes. The relative sweetening value is around 70-80.

Lactose is a type of sugar found naturally in the milk. It has a low relative sweetness of 20. Lactose enhances and responsible for the browning of the baked products.

Fructose is also a simple sugar which found in many plants. The sweetness is strong around 140, and it is the most water-soluble of all the sugars. It can be quite expensive.

- Main raw material is wheat flour, because it contains gluten, it gives a good connection with yeast, which makes the dough rise.

- Water binds together the raw materials, ensures heat transfer, evaporation on cooling.

- Salt ensures the taste, the development of gluten during the fermentation process and gives a nice crumb structure.

- Yeast is a living organism and gives a specific taste to the product. Mainly ensures the rising of the dough, provides vitamin B and provides a nice crust and crumb structure.

- Eggs are the most versatile raw material: they are binder, volume enlarger, colorant, firming agent, adhesive and emulsifier.

- Milk contains milk fat which ensures the full flavour in bakery products. Provides moisture to the preparation and is a supplier of vitamin B12, carbohydrates, calcium and protein content.

- We can mainly divide fats into butter and margarine. Butter comes from the cow, gives a rich taste but is more expensive than margarine. Margarine is mainly vegetable and can be used for different specific applications because the composition can differ according to the application. The product is cheaper.

- Sugars: there are different types of sugars, of which the cane or beet sugar is the most used. Further are lactose, glucose and fructose. The different sugars are often used by manufacturers of mixes because of the different properties and the different operating time.

Michael Lim