CHICAGO — Many machines are essential to efficient and cost-effective bread production, but it’s possible that you may be overlooking the tiniest and mightiest of all: enzymes.

Tess Brensing, senior production manager of functional systems for Corbion, highlighted the many benefits of enzymes for quality breadmaking during the American Society of Baking’s BakingTECH 2022 event in Chicago. Perhaps the most important thing that enzymes can do is alleviate some dependency on vital wheat gluten, which is increasingly more expensive and more difficult to come by.


“We’re all trying to make a great loaf of bread, and it wouldn’t be that hard if we didn’t care about time or money,” Brensing said. “There’s a lot of stresses that come with making a high-quality product. We think about our formula, and there are many things in a bread formula, but are enzymes a solution that you are currently pulling in?”

She described enzymes as machines that — although they’re not alive — every living thing depends on. They are proteins that can transform certain elements as catalysts, speeding up chemical reactions and in turn bringing a product like dough from a less desirable point A to a more desirable point B.

Since many elements of a bread formula have varying protein levels, such as flour and gluten, enzymes can serve as a standardizing agent to strengthen the dough and make it more consistent from a baker’s perspective.


“We know that it’s possible to put enzymes in the right combination to get them to where you need to be with gluteal replacement,” Brensing said. “Think about the security of supply. I don’t know if any of you have heard, but gluten prices have gone up a little bit over the last year. So all of these things can be combined together to give you the optimum functionality.”

Although combining enzymes can be a great solution, they can also present some headaches when it comes to finding the right ratios of enzyme types and how they interact with other ingredients. Changes in temperature and time will affect the enzyme behavior, which is why it’s key to understand what formulation tweaks are needed to make it work.

Some of these considerations include juggling strength and elasticity, and managing water levels due to how absorbent the dough is. And it’s important for bakers to understand the warning signs and make needed corrections.


“You have to have skilled bakers that can look at it as a different way of understanding that entire system, how it works together and what those competing ingredients are,” Brensing said. “All those things have to be understood.”

Even though figuring out how enzymes work with a certain process can be difficult at first, Brensing said her and her team at Corbion are eager to help bakeries understand these technologies and implement them to make a complex process a bit easier.

“It can be a hurdle at the start,” she said. “But it can simplify your process and help your bakeries run more smoothly. And we are happy to talk about that.”