Ingredient water can have a significant effect on dough properties, but most production plants are able to develop formula modifications that offset any undesirable effects that might result from use of the water from their particular supply system. The water from any potable source, such as the municipal pipelines or a well, can be regarded as legally suitable for incorporation in a biscuit formula. However, it should not be necessary to say that any water that has an undesirable odor or flavor should be subjected to a purification process before it is mixed into a dough. The pH of the ingredient water supply, especially from municipal sources, can in some cases vary widely throughout the week or day, and this can cause the physical properties of the dough to change, adversely affecting the machining of this material.
Fresh milk and eggs are not common ingredients in most commercial cookies partly because they are relatively costly. When present, they are likely to constitute only a small percentage of the product. Eggs can have a substantial effect on the physical properties of a dough or batter, acting as a structure former, leavener (due to entrapment of air and water vapor), emulsifier, and lubricants. Egg whites are better as a structure former and leavener; yolks are more effective as an emulsifier and lubricant. Eggs do affect flavor, not always positively, and yolks add color, usually a desirable result. Nonfat milk has ambivalent results on structure while whole milk generally has a weakening effect due to the fat. Both milk and eggs add good-
quality protein to a biscuit and are sometimes used as a wash on the surface to color or glaze the finished piece, but for some consumers, cholesterol concerns may be a negative attribute.
Salt is an important ingredient. Not only is it an essential flavor-enhancing ingredient in any baked product, but it has effects on the physical characteristics of doughs. Some of these effects may be favorable, such as the slight toughening effect it has on some doughs, and others are considered unfavorable, such as its retarding effect on yeast-leavened systems, when incorporated at high levels.
Crackers and especially cookies are susceptible to rancidity, because of their high fat content and their fairly long shelf life. Antioxidants can counteract this tendency to a considerable degree. Common antioxidants are butylated hydroxyanisol (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and ieri-butylhydroquinone (TBHQ). Amounts that can be added are restricted by federal regulations, and antioxidants must be labeled as cancer-causing agents in some states and may be banned outright in certain countries. Citric acid and phosphoric acid are sometimes useful for chelating metal ions that would otherwise accelerate rancidity. Research has shown that some natural tocopherols (vitamin E) and other antioxidants (rosemary extract) can prevent oxidation.
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