Plant-based Bakery: Ingredient Innovation Brings Hope

The rise of plant-based diets has led to an increased demand for plant-based baked goods. However, plant-based bakeries face several unique challenges in meeting this demand while maintaining quality, taste, and texture. 

Plant-based bakery faces several challenges, from ingredient substitutions and achieving the right texture and flavor to managing costs and consumer expectations. Overcoming these challenges requires innovation, experimentation, and a deep understanding of both traditional and plant-based baking principles. In terms of ingredient innovation, we can see so many developments in the past year we can safely say things are looking up.

One of the most important challenges in plant-based bakery is ingredient substitution and eggs, dairy and protein are the most finicky ones. 

Egg Replacements for the New Consumer Expectations

Eggs are a crucial ingredient in traditional baking for their binding, leavening, and moisture-retention properties. Finding effective plant-based substitutes (like flaxseeds, chia seeds, or commercial egg replacers) that replicate these functions without compromising the texture and flavor of the final product can be difficult. But in industrial-scale bakery, this process needs to be even more controlled, to ensure consistent results.

“One of the current areas of focus for BENEO is helping producers achieve affordable egg replacement,” says Dr Isabel Trogh, Customer Technical Support Manager at BENEO. “The increased demand for plant-based alternatives has come about as a result of rising consumer concerns around animal welfare, sustainability and the significant price inflation of eggs experienced over recent years. However, replacing eggs in baked goods creates a specific set of challenges for recipe formulation because eggs have a multi-functional impact on the final product in terms of taste and texture. This is because they can be used for foaming and aeration, texturising, emulsification, color and flavor, as well as a glazing agent. This is why, depending on the type of application, an egg alternative also has to deliver on this range of technical properties.”

The BENEO-Technology Center has been trialing ingredients for successful egg-free recipes and found that fava bean protein concentrate can serve as a suitable solution for partial and total replacement of whole eggs, egg whites and egg yolks. At the same time, the ingredient also offers clean label and cost reduction benefits. To meet the dual challenges of sustainable sourcing and egg replacement recipe reformulation, BENEO’s fava bean protein concentrate is proving popular with bakery producers. That is because it has shown its potential as a cost-effective egg replacer in technical trials and recipe development work. “Also, nutritional claims in the context of protein content can be added on-pack – if the conditions of use are fulfilled – and it has strong sustainability credentials,” says Dr Trogh. “Speaking of sustainability, fava beans help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at farm level, as they capture nitrogen from the air, and provide it for themselves and subsequent plants, which reduces the need for fertilizer input.”

Made from de-hulled faba beans via a dry fractionation process, BENEO’s fava bean protein concentrate is a natural and clean label plant-based protein source that is light yellow in color and has a relatively neutral, mild beany taste. It also contains a minimum of 60% protein on dry matter, has an excellent essential amino acids profile and very good emulsifying, foaming, thickening and binding properties. These all lead to it being the perfect solution for egg replacement.

Another new solution comes from ingredients specialist Loryma, which expanded its wheat-based portfolio with a functional mix that is free of animal ingredients, as well as artificial colourings, flavorings and preservatives. Vegan, wheat-based Lory Stab perfectly replicates the technological properties of egg or milk in bakery products, resulting in a convincing visual appearance and authentic mouthfeel. Products made with this base ingredient, such as muffins, sponge cakes, cake bases or lava cakes, have the typical airy texture, light crumb and consistent pore structure.

Combined with other ingredients such as flour, sugar, oil, water and flavorings, the concentrate can be used to make all types of vegan dough. The result is a viscous mass into which ingredients such as chocolate chunks or fruit can be easily incorporated. The wheat-based mix is neutral in smell and taste, which allows for individual recipes and a wide range of applications, including American muffins, sponge cakes, cake bases, lava and cupcakes, all of which perfectly meet the growing demand for plant-based bakery products. The stabilizing and raising components create a loose and elastic crumb structure, which results in the characteristic mushroom-shaped bulge in muffins, for example.

“The light, airy texture and authentic mouthfeel of the finished baked goods perfectly imitate the sensory properties of non-vegan products,” says Norbert Klein, Head of Research and Development at Loryma. “Thanks to the balanced cost-benefit ratio, Lory Stab is an economical and efficient solution for manufacturers who want to broaden their market appeal.”

The humble egg wash that gives patisserie its shine is also a challenge when a bakery goes plant-based. ​​A consistently glossy shine is crucial for some bakery products, such as brioches, hamburger buns, bread loaves, laminated pastry and many more. Puratos’ Taste Tomorrow consumer insights show that shine can improve the perception of freshness and indulgence. Sunset Glaze, a plant-based egg wash substitute from Puratos, helps bakers achieve a glossy shine on their baked goods and enables them to develop a 100% vegan bakery product, too. This also mitigates the hygiene risks of handling raw eggs and ensuring safer production processes. Plus, with egg prices remaining volatile, it’s a convenient way for bakers to ensure a stable cost and availability all year round. 

Buttery without Butter

Dairy products like milk, butter, and cream contribute to the flavor, moisture, and richness of baked goods. Substituting these with plant-based alternatives (such as almond milk, coconut oil, or vegan margarine) often requires careful formulation to achieve similar results, especially in terms of texture and taste.

“In bakery applications where fat accounts for up to 40% of a recipe, for example, finding a dairy substitute that offers the same texture, buttery flavor and workability can be difficult,”  says Sara de Pelsmaeker, group health and well-being director, Puratos. “We developed our Mimetic range of plant-based butter and margarine alternatives to help artisanal and industrial bakers overcome this common challenge. The multi-purpose portfolio caters to any application in direct, frozen and long shelf-life processes, whether it’s lamination or incorporation into dough for products such as croissants, Danish and puff pastries, cakes, soft dough and cookies. Functionality aside, bakers can also benefit from a reduced environmental impact, improved cost efficiency and longer shelf-life by using a specialty plant-based fat like Mimetic.” Plus, it enables sustainable claims and plant-based messaging on packaging.

Other recent innovations from Puratos include Easy Soft’r Plant-Based, a bakery mix for baking brioche and sweet breads without eggs or butter – with the same great taste and texture. “It’s a convenient and versatile solution that addresses common challenges in the formulation of plant-based baked goods, offering a delicate and refined melt-in-the-mouth texture, as well as superlative freshness and flavor,” says de Pelsmaeker. This sweet bakery mix is a sustainable option too, enabling the creation of brioche with a 55% lower environmental impact.

They also launched Cremvit Classic Vanilla, a 100% plant-based, ready-to-use cream filling that can be used in dairy-free applications. Reliably stable during production processes, including pumping, baking and freezing, this innovative ingredient is suitable for ambient-stored products, such as cakes, cream puffs or profiteroles – or any other baked goods containing cream.

BENEO’s prebiotic chicory root fiber, Orafti Oligofructose, replaces milk powder and contributes to the taste and color of the final product. At the same time, its use increased the fiber content and allowed a “source of fiber” claim to be made with the muffins. Manufacturers wanting to further improve the nutritional profile of their plant-based muffin, can increase the dosage of Orafti Oligofructose to enable sugar reduction.  

Protein for a Balanced Diet

Animal products often contribute significantly to the protein content of baked goods. Ensuring that plant-based alternatives provide adequate protein levels without affecting the product’s quality can be challenging. This may involve incorporating protein-rich ingredients like nuts, seeds, or legumes.

Read the rest of the article in the May-June edition of European Baker & Biscuit.

You might also like


Subscribe to our FREE NEWSLETTER and stay updated SUBSCRIBE