All of the Egg Benefits, None of the Egg

Egg-free baking has become normal nowadays. Consumers have specific demands for free-from products and the bakers are trying to satisfy their requirements and to offer specialty products.

There are many functions that real eggs provide in bakery formulations, from taste and texture to quality, appearance and consistency, Kathy Sargent, strategic innovation director, Corbion, explained for WorldBakers. Egg-replacers are a great way to help bakers reduce, replace or extend the use of fresh, frozen or powdered eggs while continuing to create delicious baked goods that meet consumer expectations. Used correctly, egg replacers can be an effective tool in certain applications, offering many of the same functional benefits of genuine eggs, with reduced cost, Sargent underlined. However, she explained that some applications are easier to work with than others. Adding egg replacers to breads is the simplest by far because bakers can utilize enzyme systems in conjunction with their other ingredients to recreate the shelf life, richness and moistness qualities that previously came from eggs. “By contrast, cakes and batters are much more challenging to work with because of their reliance on eggs to provide so many different functions. Color and moistness are also important for cakes, as they are indicative of what kind of shelf life a product will have,” Sargent said.

On the other hand, Verena Klaus, business development manager food and flavor at Wacker Biosolutions, Wacker Chemie AG, states that alpha-dextrin offers manufacturers of fine baked goods a solution to replace eggs, including for vegan products. Alpha-dextrin consists of 6 glucose molecules. A key property of alpha-dextrin is its hydrophilic (water-loving) exterior and its lipophilic (fat-loving) cavity, which can accommodate a guest molecule. This unique structure provides a wide range of functionalities for the food industry, Klaus explained for us. “In replacing eggs, CAVAMAX W6 enables the creation of egg-free baked goods with ideal volume, elasticity and moisture, while yielding the consistency and taste experience that consumers expect – important properties, which are usually impaired when eggs are omitted. The emulsifying, soluble dietary fiber can replace eggs because it stabilizes oil-in-water emulsions in cake batter as well as the sensitive pore structure of finished cakes,” the expert from Wacker Biosolutions added.

As well as for cake or bread, it is important that the dough or mass already provides certain functional properties in order to obtain the best possible characteristics of the baked product, Henrik DeVries, commercial manager KRÖNER-STÄRKE, stated. “Depending on the product browning ingredients may also be important, e.g. for egg-replacement in Brioche-bread,” DeVries said.

The Process of Replacing Eggs

Typically, one of the first factors to consider when substituting egg replacers is to determine how much egg our customers want to replace in their formulations. This is important because it can determine which egg replacer is right for the customer based on their specific application needs, Sargent (Corbion) said. “Each baker’s process and needs may be different, requiring a different solution to give them the results they want. We believe that partnering with our customers to determine what functional toolbox of ingredients they need is extremely important. We work directly with our customers’ R&D teams to help them balance their formulas, and once we identify the right combination of solutions, our technical service team comes in and works side by side with our customers to ensure their ongoing success,” Sargent added.

Verena Klaus (Wacker Biosolutions) explains that Alpha-dextrin is a water-soluble powder that is easy to handle and process. In combination with water and a protein source, which can be either dairy or plant-based, it can be used to replace egg powder and liquid egg. Baked goods containing alpha-dextrin can be produced using existing equipment. And there are further advantages: manufacturers can save up to 40% of their costs if seasonal fluctuations in egg prices are taken into account.

Henrik DeVries (KRÖNER-STÄRKE) also underlines that egg-replacers are easy to use, being presented in powdered form and can be simply be added to the other dry additives in the recipe. In general, the egg-content in the recipe is replaced by a part of egg-replacer and a part of extra-water, he added.

Surpassing Difficulties

Speaking about challenges, the expert from Corbion mentioned that bakers typically have difficulty replacing eggs in their sweet baked goods, especially when working with more temperamental applications like angel food cake. Cakes and batters, in particular, tend to be hard to work with because they rely on eggs to provide many different functions, like volume, resilience, viscosity and emulsification. “Many of these traits enhance the tolerance, moistness and shelf life of their applications, so removing eggs from a formulation can lead to challenges in replicating each of these functions with an egg-free solution. Additionally, some egg replacers may contain allergens like gluten or dairy, so bakers should consider the needs of their consumers when replacing eggs in their formulations,” she said.

On the other hand, designing ingredients as egg replacers requires a good understanding of egg functionalities, Verena Klaus said. In baked systems that includes: foaming, emulsification, stabilizing and moistening. The egg-free version should not be compromised regarding volume, texture and mouthfeel. “In addition, eggs impact the color and flavor of cakes and other baked goods. It is difficult to mimic the multi-functionality of eggs with a 1:1 solution, meaning replacing such a complex product like egg by a single ingredient. This is why Wacker proposes an alternative solution: using alpha-dextrin in combination with dairy or plant protein,” Klaus added.

Furthermore, achieving comparable texture in the final product is the major challenge, Henrik DeVries stated. Many egg-replacers try to reach that by the use of several E-numbers. Due to the philosophy of naturalness, the KRÖNER-products are manufactured naturally without the addition of additives.

There are many reasons a baker may want to reduce or eliminate eggs from their formulations, but there are some market drivers in which Corbion has seen larger impacts, Sargent said. In previous years, salmonella outbreaks and egg recalls have led to supply shortages. “These scares can cause fluctuations in the supply of eggs in the United States and subsequent pricing volatility. The effect these sudden cost increases can have on businesses can be troubling, causing bakers to seek out more reliable solutions to fulfill the functions eggs provide,” she added. However, from a consumer standpoint, the specialist from Corbion mentioned an uptick in the number of consumers seeking out products with free-from formulations or those that are free of allergens. This shift towards leading a healthier lifestyle has impacted bakers in a myriad of ways, as consumers demand more clean-label formulations. “Consumers are more in touch with how the foods they eat affect their overall health, and are more likely to follow a more restrictive diet. They’re looking for products they perceive to be healthier or more premium, which often include items with cleaner, shorter ingredient lists, or that are allergen-free, gluten-free, dairy-free or vegan. Removing eggs from their formulations is just one way bakers can help create the products these types of consumers are demanding; however, most egg replacers on the market have both gluten and dairy in them. That’s why we developed our Function Plus 250W egg replacer. It’s free of dairy, which makes it ideal when developing sweet baked goods for consumers with allergies/intolerances to dairy,” Sargent stated.

Verena Klaus, Wacker Chemie, observed that the demand for egg-free or vegan baked goods is rising and more people are forgoing animal ingredients. Studies show that veganism is a sustained trend. According to the Mintel market research firm, 5% of all food and beverages marketed throughout the world were recently found to be vegan. Whereas the number of new vegetarian products is now relatively stable, the number of vegan foods has more than doubled over the past five years. In addition, the flexitarian lifestyle is gaining more and more importance. This means that a growing number of people occasionally opt for plant-based and more sustainable foods.

Furthermore, the market drivers for these kinds of products are growing affluence, changing ethical awareness of animals and increasing health awareness are three key reasons underlying fundamental changes in our eating habits in recent years. “Consumers want healthy, sustainably manufactured products with no ethical concerns that are completely tailored to their needs – and they want all that without compromising quality or taste. This is where we come in. If it is to offer these kinds of products, the food industry needs powerful ingredients¬ like our cyclodextrins,” Klaus added.

The typical consumer, especially vegans and people with food intolerances are those who reach for egg-free baked goods. The growing vegan trend is particularly pronounced among young people. In Germany, a survey showed that 60% of vegans are between 20 and 39 years old, Klaus observed. According to the survey, many vegans first went on a vegetarian diet before opting for a vegan lifestyle. In addition, the number of flexitarians that include vegan food products into their daily diet increases.

Henrik DeVries, from KRÖNER-STÄRKE, mentioned two different strong directions for this topic. On the one hand, the market for vegan products is growing rapidly. People are searching for products that are close to the products they consumed before moving to vegan. On the other hand, industrial bakers are always searching for options to reduce raw material costs and to secure raw material availability because egg prices are fluctuating. Another reason is the avoidance of the allergen egg. Definitely, the market drivers are the trends towards vegan nutrition and a healthier lifestyle with reduced egg consumption, he concluded.

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