“The aims of using flour additive in flatbread industry is to optimize flour dough machinability and preventing bread staling. During bread staling bread firmness and fragility increase because of drying and starch retrogradation. Due to the differences in baking Syrian flatbread as compared with other bread like pan bread it is wrong to recommend the same types of bread improvers for both of them.”
Prof. Farhan Alfin
Flatbreads are the oldest of all bread types which are consumed in the Middle-East, Turkey, Indian subcontinent, North Africa, Southern Europe, and Central America (Miskelly, 2016). There are more than 60 types of flatbread in the world, two-layer Syrian flatbread is one of them, differ in shapes, sizes, and recipes (Köten, 2017). Traditional flatbreads include leavened, unleavened, one-layer and tow-layer flatbreads (Quail, 2016). Khubz (khubooz, khubuz or chubz) in Arabic language refer to all kinds of breads. Yeast-leavened two-layered flatbread is the most consumed bread type in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt and Gulf countries. This type of flatbread has different names from country to country kmaj, baladi, arabic, shami…etc. (Köten, 2017; Popper and Hamed, 2020). It has no crumb, a soft consistency and is easy to fold and fill (Popper and Hamed, 2020). Two-layer Syrian Arabic flat bread has now become popular in many other countries including the United States, England, and Australia (Quail, 2016).
The civil war that emerged in Syria on March 15, 2011 caused Syrian people exposure to forced migration. Most of Syrian immigrants settled in Turkey. The number of Syrians in Turkey registered under temporary protection in March 2020 was 3,587 million people. Most of them settled in İstanbul, Gaziantep, Hatay and Şanlıurfa. The culture of food differs between Syrians and Turks, especially the type of bread consumed. The Syrians entered the bakery sector since the day they came to Turkey. Turkish people are now calling this bread the Syrian lavash bread. Syrian companies opened large factories in many organized industrial zones, particularly Gaziantep, Nizip, Hatay, Mersin, Adana, Ankara, Istanbul, Kocaeli and Urfa. Some of Syrian companies opened flour mill to support wheat flour to Syrian flatbread producers.
QUALITY OF USED FLOUR
0.55-0.65% ash white flour (70-72% extraction) generally is used to produce white Syrian Arab flatbread, it is also produced brown bread from 0.65-0.95% ash high-extraction (%82-95) flour (Köten, 2017; Quail, 2016). Protein content and quality are the most important quality criteria of flour for Arabic bread quality. Optimum flour protein is 10-12% (Miskelly, 2016), wet gluten 23-25% and flours should give high extensibility, elasticity and stability doughs (Köten, 2017; Popper and Hamed, 2020). The suitable flour doughs will be neither shrink when rolled out nor collapse in the oven (Popper and Hamed, 2020). Because the limited crumb in flatbread does not require very strong gluten to hold the gas produced by the yeast (Morris, 2016).
PRODUCTION OF SYRIAN FLATBREAD
A typical recipe would be flour 100%, yeast 1%, salt 1.5%, and water 56-60% according to flour absorption. Some bakers add sugar up to 30% (Quail, 2016; Popper and Hamed, 2020). After mixing the dough is allowed to a bulk fermentation period of approximately an hour. After bulk fermentation, the doughs are divided into balls of 60-100 gram according to the loaves required diameter and rested before sheeting (Popper and Hamed, 2020). The sheeting is done to produce a round thin dough piece by three sets of rollers, the first just gently flattens the dough. The second set has narrower gap between rollers which flatten the dough in the same direction. The third set roller flatten the dough in orthogonal direction and the gap between the rollers set to produce the desired final thickness. The sheeted dough piece is left to ferment for 20 minutes. The dough is then baked in an oven with temperature over 600 °C and baking time less than 20 s (Morris, 2016; Quail, 2016). During baking the fermented sheeted thin dough separates into two distinct layers formatting a pocket in the two-layered flatbreads. This happen because of developing a fine cell structure in the sheeted dough during fermentation and a thin dry skin on the surface. In very high temperature oven gases in the cell structure expand and steam is generated so fast in the formed crust forcing the dough layers apart and creating a pocket in all over the dough piece and takes the shape of a ball. After baking, the loaf cools and collapses, but the crumb remains divided (Miskelly, 2016; Quail, 2016; Popper and Hamed, 2020).
Syrian flatbread quality criteria and assessing systems have been studied and various scoring methods have been developed by researchers. Quail (2016), separated the characteristics of quality scoring systems into two categories: product appearance and functionality. Appearance factors: Syrian flatbread should be a round, uniform shape, the layers are of even thickness, a clean separation should be achieved between top and bottom layers, about 4 mm thickness, crust color golden brown and crumb color creamy-white, and a smooth crust free from blisters and cracks (Miskelly, 2016; Quail, 2016; Popper and Hamed, 2020).
Syrian flatbread functionality attributes are ability to be rolled and folded without cracking or breaking. These attributes are tested by rolling the bread around a cylinder or folded. Syrian flatbread softness or tearing resistance and staling are very important assessment characteristics. During staling the product flexibility which is an important quality feature is loosed.
STANDARDIZING FLATBREAD FLOURS
Köten (2017), reviewed Syrian flatbread production in Turkey and stated that the quality of produced Syrian flatbreads have some problems and explained the production problems and its preventing methods. The aims of using flour additive in flatbread industry is to optimize flour dough machinability and preventing bread staling. During bread staling bread firmness and fragility increase because of drying and starch retrogradation (Quail, 2016). Due to the differences in baking Syrian flatbread as compared with other bread like pan bread it is wrong to recommend the same types of bread improvers for both of them (Aleid, 2015).
The following are the most used additives to achieve optimum flatbread:
It is common to use addition of emulsifiers to extend the shelf life of pan or hearth bread. The emulsifier interacts with the starch to slow the rate of the retrogradation. Improvements in dough properties, water absorption, and bread shelf life can be achieved with the addition of mono- and diglyceride and lecithin. Monoglycerides are the primary anti-staling additives (Aleid, 2015). Using 0.2% mono-diglyceride is recommended. A higher quality bread can be produced by using low concentration (0.25 %) of sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate (SSL) compared to glycerol mono-stearate and di-acetyl tartaric acid esters of monoglycerides (DATEM). Using maltodextrin is effective at reducing the staling of flatbread (Quail, 2016).
Addition of guar gum, Arabic gum is effective at reducing the staling of flatbread. The addition of carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) at 0.5% increased the shelf life of flatbread (Aleid, 2015; Quail, 2016).
Hydrocolloids gums such as methylcellulose, carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) and hydroxyl-propylmethyl cellulose (HPMC) are excellent water binders and able to slow up the drying of bread surface and thus retard its staling process during storage (Aleid, 2015).
Currently enzymes also play an important role in baking technology due to its natural origin (Aleid, 2015). The amylases are responsible to hydrolyze the damaged starch. α-amylases contribute to crust color and freshness. The optimum amount of used enzyme depends on the flour amylases activity and on the bread making process as well as on the desired softness.
According to Aleid (2015), the highest white Arabic bread quality was obtained from addition of 0.5% AG, 2% MG and 0.025% alpha-amylase combination and 1% AG, 0.5% MG and 0.025% alpha-amylase combination.
Maltogenic amylase breaks down starch into maltose that useful for yeast. According to Popper and Hamed (2020) maltogenic amylase are especially effective in enhancing the rolling and folding properties of flatbread during storage.
The pentosan content of the wheat flour is about 1.5% and increase as flour extraction increasing. Pentosans contribute significantly to the functional properties of high extraction wheat flour in bread making because of their high water-binding capacity and interaction with proteins, which prevents their aggregation into gluten required for the viscoelastic properties of bread doughs. According to Popper and Hamed (2020) Xylanase, reduces the degree of interaction of pentosans with gluten. As a result of adding xylanase to high extraction flour increases the extensibility of the dough, facilitating the process, dallying the flatbread staling.
Aleid, S M. & A A AL-Hulaibi & M Abu Ghoush & A A Al-Shathri, 2015, Enhancing arabic bread quality and shelf life stability using bread improvers, J Food Sci Technol, 52(8):4761–477
KÖTEN, M., SATOUF M., EKİCİ H., 2017, The Syrian Bread Production, Production Defects and Prevention Methods, Harran Tarım ve Gıda Bilimleri Dergisi, 21(3): 364-375
Miskelly D. , 2016, Optimisation of End-Product Quality for the Consumer, in Wrigley C. , Batey I. , Miskelly D., Cereal Grains (Second Edition), Woodhead, UK.
Morris C. F., 2016, Cereals: Overview of Uses: Accent on Wheat Grain, in in WRIGLEY C., CORKE H., SEETHARAMAN K, FAUBION J., ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FOOD GRAINS. (Second Edition), Academic Press.
Quail K.J., 2016, Flatbreads of the World, in WRIGLEY C., CORKE H., SEETHARAMAN K, FAUBION J., ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FOOD GRAINS. (Second Edition), Academic Press.
Popper L., and Hamed N., 2020, FLAT BREAD A FAVORITE IN SAUDI ARABIA, World grain, 38(2):22