By MATTHEW WEAVER
Pureed pulses and pulse flour are showing up in baking recipes as supplements to wheat flour.
It's still a fairly new application but Ali McDaniel, food marketing manager for the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council in Moscow, Idaho, said the use of pulses in baking is on the rise. Pulse include dry peas, lentils and garbanzo beans, or chickpeas.
"They're looking for healthier products," McDaniel said. "Using these types of flours is a way they can increase the nutrition of products they already had."
The purees can be used in cakes, muffins, cookies and other baked goods to help reduce fat content, McDaniel said. The pulse flours can be paired with wheat flour to provide all of the essential amino acids.
Pulse purees won't completely replace wheat flour, McDaniel said. That's because they don't have the gluten needed to provide the rise necessary in most baked goods, she said.
Cakes served in the student dining centers on Washington State University's campus in Pullman, Wash., have pureed lentils and garbanzo beans. Chocolate cakes use lentils and lemon cakes use garbanzo beans. The cakes also use regionally produced Shepherd's Grain wheat flour.
Adding purees to the cakes makes them more moist, said Jamie Donahoe, executive pastry chef for WSU Catering.
As cake making becomes more popular with television shows like "Cake Boss," consumers are more interested in new recipes, Donahoe said.
McDaniel said the council and the university have collaborated on various projects.
Pulse pasta, pretzel, cookie and cracker products are already available on the market, and McDaniel said the council hopes to see more as other companies use the ingredients in their product lines.
The majority of pulse crops grown in the U.S. are exported, but domestic demand could increase growers' profits.
It could also lead to an increase in pulse acres, McDaniel said. Pulse crops are primarily raised as rotational crops.
In 2011, roughly 93,000 acres of pulse crops were grown in Idaho, 173,000 acres were grown in Washington and 917,000 acres were grown in the U.S., according to the council.
McDaniel said the council works with bakers and the food service industry to provide education on how to use the pulse flours and purees.
"We've certainly seen a trend of more products being introduced into the marketplace," she said. "We expect that to continue."