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August 2017

Finding the Best Replacement for Eggs (Baking Business)

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Finding the Best Replacement for Eggs

(Donna Berry)

Many baked goods rely on proteins to develop structure and height. For simple products such as bread and buns, the gluten from wheat typically suffices. Sweet goods, on the other hand, contain heavy ingredients such as sugar, shortening and inclusions like chocolate, fruit and nuts. This is too much for a gluten matrix to handle on its own, and that’s where egg proteins enter the equation.

“Eggs are a very complex source of fats and proteins that can be used in hundreds of applications,” said Mindi McKibbin, director of research and development, Rembrandt Enterprises, Inc.

Egg products are dried, frozen or liquid forms of whole eggs, whites only or yolks only. Sometimes these formats include additional ingredients to improve functionality, expand applications or even provide cost savings.

Eggs also provide more than 20 desirable functions ranging from foaming to ingredient binding to thickening. No single replacement ingredient can perform all the same functions as eggs.

“Besides for nutritive value, egg ingredients provide important functional properties to baked goods,” said Bill Gilbert, principal food technologist, Cargill. “It’s impossible to replace eggs with any single ingredient and still provide similar nutrition and function. Yet, some bakers prefer formulating vegan and seek out replacers. Economics is also another consideration.”

The good news for bakers is that the egg supply currently is abundant and pricing attractive. This is also true for cage-free eggs, where players in the natural foods space tend to gravitate.

That said, there are real reasons why bakers might prefer egg replacers or at least have formulations on hand that replace some or all eggs with other functional ingredients. One reason for replacing eggs is to remove a common allergen from the recipe. Another is that eggs and egg products have had numerous supply and demand challenges over the years, and it’s always better to be prepared than be scrambling.

Eggs can impart richer flavor and softer texture to artisan breads and are a challenge to replace in these formulations.

First came the egg

Traditionally formulated baked foods, especially sweet goods, rely on eggs for a long list of sensory attributes. This has been shown in an extensive body of research recently conducted by independent third-party firm CuliNex L.L.C.

The research details both the analytical and slightly more subjective sensory results of experiments comparing eggs with egg replacers in a variety of applications. Most, if not all, of the applications tested relied on the functionality of eggs or egg replacers for appearance, texture, mouthfeel and taste. Certain pie fillings, for example, need eggs or egg replacers with similar functionality for optimal eating quality. The changes to pie fillings with reduced egg content were noticeable, according to the researchers.

Angel food cake is another example. This highly aerated product obtains its color, rise, texture and flavor from eggs. When they are removed or replaced in angel food cake, the batter’s specific gravity, appearance, height and flavor are negatively affected, according to the study.

CuliNex tested baked goods, including sponge cake, yellow batter cake, muffins, sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, cheesecake, brownies, sweet dough and frozen waffles, all of which rely on eggs for similar characteristics.

Elisa Maloberti, director of egg product marketing, American Egg Board, said some types of applications rely more on eggs than others.

“When a product relies upon a higher percentage of eggs for its functional and organoleptic characteristics, it will suffer a greater impact when eggs are removed,” she said.

In cheesecake, for example, the standard is 12.5% whole eggs, Ms. Maloberti said. For sugar cookies, it’s about 3.8%.

“When the research team tested eggs versus various replacement products in cheesecake,” she said, “they reported that ‘except for water activity, all areas of cake quality were negatively affected, especially flavor and texture.’”

With sugar cookies, when eggs were replaced or removed the difference was recorded as “slight but noticeable,” the study, sponsored by the American Egg Board, found. Areas most negatively affected in sugar cookies included the color/appearance, aroma, flavor and texture.

“Consistently throughout most of the study, researchers found that tasters unanimously preferred the control, or gold standard formula made with eggs, to the test formulas,” Ms. Maloberti said.

Some bakers do use eggs in artisan and specialty bread formulas, as they contribute to a richer flavor and softer texture. Use is, however, usually cost-prohibitive due to price fluctuations in standard white pan bread and buns.

Some of the physical functions eggs perform in baked goods are aeration, binding, emulsifying and dough strengthening. They also assist with maintaining moistness and, thereby, extend shelf life. Depending on the egg ingredient used, color and flavor also may be influenced. When identifying a replacer, it is critical to know what functions the ingredient must perform.

Eggs can impart richer flavor and softer texture to artisan breads and are a challenge to replace in these formulations.

Cracking egg chemistry

The egg yolk and white contribute very different characteristics to baked goods, and understanding how they work is key to finding potential replacers.

“The egg white is the main component in strengthening, as it contains a majority of the protein in the egg,” said David Guilfoyle, group manager bakery, fats and oils, DuPont Nutrition & Health.

Albumin is the egg white’s primary protein source, and upon heating, the albumin structure denatures to create a special gel strength that most other proteins do not have. This strength is important, especially in cakes, as the batter is heated, the volume increases, and the aerated albumin gel structure begins to denature and the leavened structure is set.

“Potato isolate protein and milk whey without lactose are two ingredients that have nearly similar gel strength to egg,” Mr. Guilfoyle said. “Other proteins set too quickly, creating a dense structure, or begin to collapse due to the weight of the ingredients in the formulation before the structure can be set.”

Eggs whites are also the powerhouse behind aeration, or creating foams. As the egg white is whipped, air gets trapped within the albumin, which stretches out with protein-coated air cells that become stable enough to hold the heavy ingredients.

“As the foam is heated, the protein-coated air cells expand and the structure lifts, and upon reaching a certain temperature, the foam structure sets and holds the bound ingredients in place,” Mr. Guilfoyle said. “We offer various hydrocolloids that can aerate similarly to egg whites.”

The egg yolk contains the emulsifier component lecithin, which allows water and oil to become miscible, creating either an oil-in-water or water-in-oil emulsification. If this is the function that needs replacing, it is possible to source lecithin from plants such as soybean or sunflower.

“They are all equally as functional as the lecithin from egg,” Mr. Guilfoyle said.

Natural Products, Inc., manufactures soy-based egg and milk replacement systems, which tend to be hydrophilic, even more so than eggs. Jon Stratford, sales and marketing manager, Natural Products, said the company’s egg replacers are formulated to replace whole egg powder at a 1:1 ratio.

“However, because the soy tends to bind so much water, it is not uncommon for our customers to find they need to reduce our product slightly, versus the quantity of eggs that were being used, to avoid having to add more water to their formulation,” Mr. Stratford said. “On the other hand, in some cases, it might be an advantage to add a bit more water, as that can improve the shelf life of fresh-baked products.”

The water-binding attribute dictates the most suitable applications.

“Our egg replacers also provide emulsification,” Mr. Stratford said. “Applications where eggs mainly provide emulsification tend to work best with our egg replacers.”

Egg replacers can affect the moisture content of products, offering several advantages including shelf life.

Hatching a replacement plan

In real-world applications, the allergenic nature of egg and dairy ingredients can be a hurdle for some manufacturers according to a story about a hamburger bun as told by Mr. Guilfoyle.

“At the time, brioche was coming in as a ‘new’ style of bread, and the restaurant chain wanted to have a signature bun that was brioche-style,” Mr. Guilfoyle explained. “Brioche is high in egg and dairy [butter and milk] and very expensive. The various high-speed bakeries supporting the restaurant chain refused to put any formula in their production that contained the egg and dairy allergens. This created some issues.”

Understanding the functionality of eggs and dairy in bread, Mr. Guilfoyle was able to reformulate with ingredients that provided the mouthfeel and flavor of a brioche-style bun without using the eggs or dairy products. Alginates provided the mouthfeel component, and they also gave the finished baked crumb structure strength to hold up to the heavily loaded burger and condiments. When alginates are added at 0.10% to 0.20% (baker’s per cent), they provide strength and volume to baked goods.

Artisan bread varieties are some of the more challenging products in which to replace eggs.

“It’s easiest to find solutions for products like cookies, pancakes and muffins, where eggs are less critical to the finished product,” Mr. Gilbert said. “In other product applications, where eggs are critical to functions like aeration and structure, Cargill has developed functional systems that mimic the different aspects of eggs.”

These functional systems may provide cost savings by replacing up to 50% of the eggs in the formula, often with little or no additional changes required. For example, modified starches mimic the processing and emulsifying properties of eggs, providing essential structure and texture in cookies, pancakes and muffins.

“Modified starch is especially suited for replacing up to 25% of liquid whole eggs in cakes and pound cakes, 50% in muffins, 50% to 100% in pancakes, and 50% of egg solids in cookies,” Mr. Gilbert said. “Soy flour can be used to replace 25% of liquid whole eggs in muffins, and 25% to 50% in both cookies and pancakes. Soy flour helps maintain moisture and acts as a fat mimetic.”

Cargill works with bakers to create customized texturizing systems for egg replacement. In addition to modified starch and soy flour, other ingredients used in the systems include lecithin, mono- and diglycerides, potato protein and carrageenan.

Fiberstar, Inc. offers a citrus fiber with high pectin content that functions as an egg replacer. The added benefit is that it also contributes fiber to the formula. Kurt Villwock, director of R&D, Fiberstar, said citrus fiber contains both soluble (pectin) and insoluble fiber and is made using a patented process that opens the fiber structure to create high surface area.

“This fibrous composition tightly entraps and locks in water molecules and oil droplets, providing high-water holding and emulsification properties,” Mr. Villwock said.

Citrus fiber typically is used to extend eggs rather than fully replace them. It works best in muffins, layer cakes and cookies. Combined with other hydrocolloids, it can work synergistically to replace the whole egg in gluten-free muffins and cakes.

Addition of as little as 0.2% citrus fiber can compensate for the removal of eggs in a waffle or crepe. It is simply dry blended with the flour, and the product is dosed and cooked in the same manner as a conventional full-egg product.

“The nice thing about using citrus fiber in an egg replacement strategy is that it provides a nice mouthfeel that, in a mixture, complements other ingredients that might otherwise cause textural defects,” Mr. Villwock said. “Citrus fiber also increases the cohesiveness of doughs, which is beneficial for machinability.”

A number of citrus fibers serve as egg extenders on the market. They vary in the way they are processed and their final composition, which in turn influences functionality and labeling claims. Citrus fiber is perceived to be clean label and is acceptable in ingredient statements, especially in baked goods containing fruit bases.

Nigel Weston, vice-president, R&D, J&K Ingredients, said egg replacers allow bakers to control their ingredient costs over the long term.

“Eggs are currently very inexpensive, but traditionally they are amongst the most expensive ingredients in baked goods,” he said.

Cost savings, risk management and reliability of supply are some of the biggest benefits associated with egg replacers. In recent years, egg prices have been highly volatile. In 2014, albumen prices spiked to $17 per lb. One year later, the 2015 avian influenza crisis drove egg prices up to $20 per lb.

However, even in a stable price market, Mr. Gilbert said Cargill customers confirm that the savings associated with egg replacement solutions are significant. Bakers must weigh the functional benefits of eggs and the quality they impart on finished products vs. the potential cost savings in formulation.

Citrus, an All Natural Fibre Solution (Asia Pacific Food Industry)

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Citrus, an All Natural Fibre Solution (Asia Pacific Food Industry) 

We don’t like to admit it, but sometimes nature outsmarts us humans. Such is the case with citrus fibre, where the intact natural architecture of the fruit cells provides developers with multiple gainful functionalities. Clean label solutions need not be so difficult if one embraces the natural complexity. By Dr Kurt Villwock, director of product development, Fiberstar incorporated

Due to the broad definition of fibre as a substance that resists digestion by the upper human digestive system, a wide variety of fibres with different functionalities are available for use as ingredients. They can exist in purified form, like inulin or fructooligosaccharide (FOS), or be left in its natural botanical form, such as wheat bran or citrus fibre, or perhaps even partially purified.

They can be soluble or insoluble, and quite often they exist in that transition area of solubility known as a colloidal phase, like ?-glucan from oats and barley. Many pure fibre types are large polymers of sugars, such as guar gum or acacia, and some are substantially smaller such as resistant maltodextrins and fructans.

Fibre’s Health Benefits & Applications

The health benefits of fibre are multifold, but also vary somewhat based on the physio-chemical properties of the fibre, including both the composition and the structural form. Some acknowledged nutritional benefits include: promoting satiety, intestinal bulking, enhancing immune health by promoting growth of beneficial bacteria in the large intestine, the production of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that improve the health of the digestive lining, and increased bioavailability of micronutrients.

It is interesting that the natural form of a fibre impacts the way it is fermented in the gut. For example, resistant starches have plenty of exposure to amylases throughout the digestive track yet they avoid direct contact with the active sites of enzymes by making tight crystalline regions or by surrounding itself with a tight protein matrix.

Another example is pectin. Purified pectin is often reported to result in large amounts of acetate after fermentation in the gut, yet pectin-rich fruit pulps have a SCFA profile that often includes much more propionic and butyric acid.

Fibres are commonly used in various food products including but not limited to bakery, frozen foods, dairy, meats, sauces and beverages. In a beverage system, fibres are most commonly added to either boost the nutritional profile of the product, or to add texture, thickness or bulking to a beverage.

Even dissolved fibres like FOS can enhance the mouthfeel of a beverage to give it some body. Since many fibres are polymeric in nature, their properties are influenced by other beverage conditions such as the sugar content, salt content, acidity, available water, and presence of other fibres.

Going Beyond Cellulose—Citrus Fibre

Citrus fibre contains cellulose and hemicellulose in addition to the native pectin present in orange pulp. The cellulose and hemicellulose act as the backbone of the fibre. This structure forms a very cotton ball-like fibre with the pectin and cellulosics intertwined. This gives the fibre a unique mouthfeel.

The fibre drags across the tongue which can give a creamy texture to milky coffee beverages or with a larger grind size, can give a pulpy texture. The pulp extension can help formulators extend expensive fruit pulp without modifying or changing the mouthfeel of the beverage. It can also extend tomato solids in tomato-based sauces.

Conventional cellulose fibres more often come from dried grains and fibrous plants, which when compared to fruit fibres, often do not have the natural botanical architecture optimised for holding bulk water tightly.

As one might suspect from its name, citrus fibre itself is a good source of dietary fibre (comprising) 70-80 percent. It has been shown to be bifidogenic, meaning that it selectively promotes growth of health-associated Bifidobacterium at the expensive of less desirable bacteria species.

The quality of the citrus fibre depends somewhat on the source of the fibre material. Whole citrus fibre is taken as it is from the pulp or peel of a citrus fruit and is ideally not further processed beyond drying to a powder. Such citrus fibres are usually obtained from excess material in the juice industry and contribute to a very clean label.

This type of fibre has higher levels of soluble fibre, namely pectin. Some citrus fibre is generated from the process of purifying pectin as a separate ingredient so this type of citrus fibre has a much higher proportion of insoluble fibre, namely cellulose and hemicellulose.

Despite the high dietary fibre content, citrus fibre is rarely used at levels above one percent in food products. This is due to its high water holding capacity. High amounts of citrus fibre would eventually cause textural defects because it outcompetes many other ingredients for water.

Nonetheless, citrus fibre can be a valuable tool in high fibre foods and beverages as a complementary fibre that improves the palatability of the food by addressing common problems associated with health foods, such as lack of moistness and mouthfeel.

A Natural Solution With Many Benefits

Whole citrus fibre that has not been chemically modified or stripped of its pectin has many functional properties that make it a great tool for formulators. This fibre is comprised of natural pectin, cellulose and hemicellulose and some residual protein. This chemical make-up of the slightly hydrophobic pectin, plus the physical cellulose framed structure of the fibre, make it able to hold onto not only water, but fats and oil too.

When the particles have been roughened by mechanical input, citrus fibre becomes more porous with a greater surface area which, in turn, makes it a great oil and water binder. Therefore, if you have both oil and water on the same particle, you have succeeded in making a natural emulsion.

In the Asian market, there are emulsion beverages such as milk tea and coconut milk drinks. These will often use chemical emulsifiers such as DMG, and sometimes if there is no hydrophilic-lipophilic balance (HLB), separation will occur after processing.

The strong water holding capacity of citrus fibre makes it a useful tool for preventing freeze/thaw damage to frozen food products. The robust cellulose scaffolding also makes it thermally stable; it will not thin out or break down at high temperatures. These properties make it a great addition to meat products to retain water and fat for juicier meatballs and sausages. They can also help with moisture retention of meat fillings in steamed buns or dim sum type products.

The emulsification and water binding properties also make it a great addition to baked goods where it will help delay staling defects and extend the soft fresh texture over a longer shelf-life. These properties also make it a great addition to sauces where emulsification is desired without the use of chemical emulsifiers.

Using Citrus Fibre In Fruit-Based & Dairy Applications

Due to its natural pectin content, citrus fibres can form gels in high acid, high brix applications like fruit preparations for yoghurt, bakery or spreads. Citrus fibre can replace or extend pectin where it is traditionally used.

Whole citrus fibre contains about 40 percent pectin, so in order to reach gelling conditions, one would need to use roughly twice as much citrus fibre as would be used with pure pectin. Despite this, the ingredient cost in use is often cheaper and arguably provides a cleaner label. The different grind sizes available can also permit the formulator to choose a fine or pulpy texture to suit the target application.

Citrus fibre can help control syneresis in cultured dairy products as well. Low levels of citrus fibre can add a creamy texture to yogurt products and help control syneresis in fresh cheeses such as cream cheese. Citrus fibre can increase yields and help manufacturers make the most of the water and fat in the system.

Working with whole citrus fibre is similar to working with other hydrocolloids. Dispersion and hydration are key to their functionality. For most applications, it is recommended to disperse citrus fibre with other dry ingredients and then add the liquids. For applications where an emulsion is desired, it is recommended to disperse the citrus fibre in oil, before adding the other liquids and shearing to form a stable emulsion.

While high shear is not necessary, it can help accelerate hydration and emulsification. In intermediate moisture foods, additions of small amounts of water may be needed to prevent the citrus fibre from outcompeting other ingredients for water, thus avoiding corresponding textural defects.