Like most other food and beverage sectors, the bakery industry is adjusting to reflect the increased interest in clean eating. Bakers are finding ways to develop more nutritious sweet and savory treats by revisiting traditional recipes and using simpler ingredients.

Dairy products appeared in baked goods long before ingredients erroneously believed as healthier replaced them. Because dairy’s goodness is being rediscovered, functional, nutritious, clean-label dairy ingredients are reappearing in bakery formulations.


Permeate, butter boast appeal

Implementation of the 2016 revision to the FDA Nutrition Facts label is on hold, but expected changes are coming, including the highly anticipated “added sugars” line. Consumers already scrutinize sugar quantities and perceive sugar alternatives as artificial, and the upcoming nutrition food label change will further increase awareness. As a solution, permeate, a dairy ingredient produced by removing protein from milk or whey, does not contribute added sugars in bakery and is made of 76% lactose, a naturally occurring sugar.

Permeate has the potential to be a baker’s most powerful ingredient as it also reduces sodium levels. Ingredients such as salt come with negative health associations, and minimally processed permeate is a cost-effective salt substitute.

In general, 10 to 11 grams of permeate will replace 1 gram of salt and upgrade consumers’ favorite baked goods to better fit within their diet parameters. Permeate also contributes natural browning and a caramelized aroma, so it can help replace artificial colors and flavors.

Another very common ingredient, butter, is returning as the favored fat source, while partially hydrogenated oils disappear from baked goods. New research suggests butter is a healthier option because it does not contain the trans fats found in margarines or other partially hydrogenated fats.

Consumers crave foods that are closer to nature, delicious and authentic, and butter is a trusted, recognizable product. Manufacturers also prefer butter because it is a direct replacement for partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and reduces reformulation complications.


Source of flavor, texture, nutrition

Dairy ingredients can increase the mineral, vitamin and protein content in many baked goods. But bakery need not lose its great taste and texture to a more nutritious, simple label.

High-quality whey and milk proteins, for example, provide health and wellness benefits such as satiety without hindering the sweet, bold flavors and rich, creamy texture of baked goods like some alternative proteins do. As seen in this high-protein cookie ( from the U.S. Dairy Export Council, whey protein concentrate provides 25 grams of protein for a delicious and productive snack.


Benefits of functional dairy ingredients

Long before a product reaches the consumer, manufacturers appreciate dairy ingredients for their functional properties such as emulsification, water binding, and foaming and whipping. For example, whey proteins can replace eggs, while buttermilk and acid whey can help reduce bread staling.

And permeate contributes browning, emulsion stability, moisture retention (softer bread), flavor enhancements and fat-like attributes in bakery. Permeate is used in a recipe for almond and apricot muffins ( to improve surface browning and crumblike texture while reducing sodium by almost 61% compared to “regular” muffins.

Additionally, natural cheeses such as cream cheese provide a soft, creamy texture and tart flavor. Modified food starches, emulsifiers and hydrocolloids may also be purposeful, but do not meet clean-label standards.

The clean-label trend is helping the bakery industry recover from decades of consumer and industry misconceptions that popularized unhealthy ingredients. When made with wholesome, flavorful and functional dairy, bakery can be indulgent while also a source of naturally-occurring fats, sugars and high-quality proteins. Visit for more information about clean-label bakery applications.