While pulse proteins have gained prominence, there’s plenty of protein power and health benefits to be found in nuts as well. Blue Diamond, for example, offers almond flour, protein powder, inclusions and butter that can each provide unique benefits to a formulation. 

“For example, high in Vitamin E and creamy in texture, almond butter blends seamlessly into doughs and batters,” Laurie Colin, senior technical business development manager, Blue Diamond’s Global Ingredients Division. “Almond flour can replace wheat flour and enhance better-for-you (BFY) baked foods thanks to its flour-like consistency and nutritional benefits.” 

Almond protein also improves healthy options by adding protein, fiber, fat and essential minerals while keeping saturated fat content to a minimum. It additionally has moisture-binding and gelling properties that help form a uniform batter or dough with most liquids. 

“The protein provides a much softer and cohesive crumb structure when compared to other plant-based protein sources, as little to no chalkiness, dry or crumbly texture is detected in baked products with almond protein,” Ms. Colin added. 

Almond proteins can also help remedy some of the formulation challenges common to plant proteins like pulses.

“The clean flavor of Blue Diamond almond protein will help mask the earthy, bitter flavors that are typically associated with pulse proteins and will allow flavors to shine through without the need for flavor maskers or enhancers,” she said. “Mintel research found that ingredients that can deliver BFY properties while simultaneously altering, adding to or intensifying a product’s flavor are growing in consumer demand.”

Many bakers looking to boost protein and overall product quality will also turn back to the essential grain of many baked foods — wheat. 

“Wheat protein isolates are used to achieve protein content claims and are essential ingredients for low net-carb formulations along with dietary fiber sources,” explained Tanya Jeradechachai, vice president of ingredient solutions R&D at MGP Ingredients. “Wheat protein isolates are highly functional and can increase dough processing abilities, water absorption and overall baked product quality.”

Ms. Jeradechachai added that wheat protein isolates can lengthen the shelf life of flour tortillas, partially replace eggs in chemically leavened products, reduce fat absorption in cake donuts, and replace chemical-reducing agents, dough relaxers and enzymes typically used in commercial baking. Textured wheat proteins can also be used as inclusions to add a unique texture to baked foods. 

MGP offers six Arise wheat protein isolates with different dough elasticity and extensibility properties that can provide clean label opportunities for bakers. The isolates range from 85% to 90% protein and have 6.5 to 7 grams of net carbs per 100 grams, beneficial for keto-friendly, high-protein products. The isolates were also recently certified as low FODMAP (a chain of carbohydrates that can cause digestive distress) by Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, indicating digestive benefits.

The low-carb trend has driven consumer demand for keto bakery products, which require large amounts of wheat proteins, Ms. Jeradechachai noted. In these applications, wheat protein isolates are often combined with vital wheat gluten to aid in extensibility and dough handling. 

“[Vital wheat gluten] is a staple in bread formulations, where it offers benefits that support mixing, dough handling and finished product quality,” said Aaron Reed, senior food technologist, Cargill. “During mixing, it improves water absorption and mixing tolerance, creating a less-sticky dough.”

In addition to being protein-packed, vital wheat gluten can “carry the load” of fiber and other ingredients that can stress the dough, Mr. Reed said. 

“Taken together, these benefits translate to finished products with improved oven spring and break, higher bread volumes and fine crumb structures,” he said.