Benefits of Soy in Baked Products Bring African Bakers to NCI Short Course

Fargo, N.D., USA -- The benefits of soy protein were in the spotlight at the Baking with Soy short course, hosted September 24-28 at Northern Crops Institute (NCI) for seven bakers from Senegal and Rwanda.  The course was sponsored by WISHH, The World Initiative for Soy in Human Health, a program of the American Soybean Association. 

Mark Weber, NCI Director, says, “The addition of soy flour to baked products can raise protein content, balance essential amino acids, and increase bread’s nutritional value, making soy flour one of the most promising uses of soybeans in many countries.  We are delighted to work with WISHH in hosting this course that showcases the region’s high quality soybeans.”  

Clyde Stauffer, Ph.D., Technical Foods Consultants, Cincinnati, OH, was the lead instructor for the course.  His lectures focused on helping the team develop a better understanding of the various functional properties of adding soy to baked products.  Stauffer also led sessions on calculating calories, using cost spreadsheets, and the various kinds of wheats and their flour characteristics.  

The hands-on baking laboratories were led by Thunyaporn Jeradechachai, NCI Crop Quality Specialist; Rachel Carlson and Natsuki Fujiwara, both NCI Food Technologists. During the course’s baking sessions, the team made and evaluated soy-enhanced donuts, baguettes, croissants, pan bread, Poilânebread, and spritzer cookies.

Kimberly Rochette, West Africa Project Manager for WISHH, and Drew Klein, Ph.D., Global Director, Human Utilization, U.S. Soybean Export Council, accompanied the course participants.  The North Dakota Soybean Council hosted the team at a luncheon.

“During these baking courses, we are not trying to give the bakers new recipes.  They already have their standard recipes that their consumers buy. We try to expose them to new ideas, such as no-time pan bread and Poilânebread, a fermented dough. These may become specialty items in their bakeries. We also made spritzer cookies with and without soy flour, using a formula that I developed for Liberia’s school feeding program. 

While they are not technically trained bakers, the course participants are considered among of the most influential bakers in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, according to Stauffer. In addition to running their own bakery companies, one is the President of the Master Bakers Federation in Dakar, others are working as wholesalers in soy flour, and one runs a healthy foods school.  “These guys are agents of change in the baking community.  That’s a big part of why they were chosen for this program,” Stauffer concludes.

“WISHH has been promoting soy flour to bakers in Africa for about 15 years,” says Stauffer. “As part of that outreach, about 6 years ago, we first started the Baking with Soy Seminars at NCI.  We thought it was important to bring bakers to the U.S. and run a baking school for them.  The first Baking with Soy course in 2007 involved bakers from the Middle East. In more recent years, WISHH has been working extensively in Senegal, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Uganda, and we will be in Ivory Coast next month for the first time.” 

According to Stauffer, the whole idea behind the WISHH program is to improve nutrition of undernourished people in developing countries and to serve as an export program.  “We work with the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).  Currently, WISHH has USAID projects going on in Liberia and Afghanistan,” he says.

Northern Crops Institute (NCI) supports regional agriculture and value-added processing by conducting educational and technical programs that expand and maintain domestic and international markets for northern-grown crops.  NCI is funded by the states of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota and commodity groups in those states and Montana.