The laws of pas akum are all about bread. The bread mentioned in the Gemara is assumed to consist of water and flour only; nothing else is added. Do the halachos change when we add in other ingredients? What about things that are baked, but are not "bread" in the way that we usually understand it? Here are three cases:
The Shulchan Aruch in YD 112:6 says: In a place where they are lenient with pas palter (commercially baked non-Jewish bread), even if the bread was kneaded with eggs, or they smeared eggs on it, it is still mutar (permissible).
Why should this be, eggs that are cooked fall under the prohibition of bishul akum, not pas akum!?
The Taz explains that since the eggs are mixed in with the bread and the bread is the main item, they become tafel (secondary) to it. In the case of the egg being smeared on top of the bread, the GRA explains that the egg is just there for appearance. We follow the principle of chazusah lav milsah hee (superficial appearance does not cause a status change). A similar case is with a woman who is niddah and returns from the mikveh. She then discovers a pen mark on her hand. A pen mark is definitely something she is particular about and would certainly remove it before going to a public event. Nevertheless, she is still tahor and does not need to go to mikveh again, because of this principle of chazusah lav milsah hee.
The Rema in 112:6 says: The kneaded dough that they call "kichlich", or types of sweets that they call "lekach" (the equivalent of our cakes and cookies), are included in the category of pas (and not bishul).
The laws of pas akum are more lenient than the laws of bishul akum, so the Rema is being lenient here with cakes and cookies. So we see that adding sugar does not take away the status of pas from these items.
A very relevant shailah today is concerning breakfast cereals? Since they are generally baked or toasted, do the laws of pas akum apply to them?
Before we look at specific cases we need to understand the basic criteria for something to be classified as pas. Firstly, it needs to be made of one of the five main grains (wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt). Secondly, the item needs to have tzuras hapas (the form/shape of bread).
The list of five grains excludes rice, so Rice Krispies would not be a problem of pas akum. What about Bran Flakes (which are made from wheat)? Flakes don't have tzuras hapas, so they would also not be a problem. What about Cheerios (which are made from oats)? R' Pinchos Bodner (Laws of Brochos) says in the name of R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach that Cheerios have tzuras hapas because they look like mini bagels. (R' Elyashiv apparently also held this). So Cheerios (with a hechsher obviously) has the status of pas palter. Shredded wheat might also might be a problem, since the shape resembles a slice of bread. French Toast Crunch literally looks like little slices of bread. However, it is certainly not a problem since it is made with corn and not wheat.
The laws of Pas Akum encompass our lives, from those delicious Cheerios we have for breakfast, to our favorite cookies we have as a late night snack!
Next week IYH we will begin the laws of Chalav Akum/Chalav Yisroel (non-Jewish/Jewish milk).