Cheesecake structure depends on eggs

As my children grew older, in lieu of the princess or movie-themed cakes, sometimes they would request cheesecake for a special celebration. I know I’ve had a fondness for cheesecake since I was young when my grandmother would make cheesecake using a special family recipe.

Whether a recipe is a family heirloom or a commercial standby, a successful cheesecake relies on egg ingredients. In fact, cheesecake flavor intensity and texture develop to their greatest potential when using egg ingredients, according to a new independent study comparing the use of eggs to egg replacers.

Overall no single egg replacement product tested in cheesecake achieved the same analytical and organoleptic sensory test results as did the control product, a cheesecake prepared with egg ingredients. Except for water activity, each aspect of product quality suffered in the comparative products created for the research.

The research confirms the superior functionality and flavor supplied to cheesecake by egg ingredients, compared to the variety of six replacers tested.

While other baked goods primarily rely upon flour for structure, cheesecake relies principally upon eggs for that purpose and much more. The proteins within eggs coagulate to support the rich, dense cheese filling and allow it to reach the right balance of richness/tenderness with firmness. The eggs’ emulsifying properties help create proper mouthfeel. And the use of whole eggs within cheesecake take advantage of the effective flavor carrying properties of the fat within egg yolk, allowing fat-soluble flavoring ingredients like vanilla to be enhanced—particularly important given the often mild and pleasant flavor notes desired in traditional cheesecake. 

Results varied among the different types of replacers however, overall, nearly all areas of cheesecake quality were negatively affected, including batter viscosity, baked cake rise and shape, color/appearance and most importantly, finished product aroma, flavor and texture.

Eggs themselves have more than 100 volatile flavor compounds. They are subtle, enhancing rather than masking other flavors. One principal researcher noted that the subtle flavor egg ingredients bring to baking systems is particularly well suited for cheesecake, which consumers associate with mild, dairy notes. Eggs won’t overwhelm the system but work with the other traditional cheesecake ingredients to create that sweet baked flavor, aroma and lovely golden color.

You can find research results about cheesecake on a new website dedicated to the study results called And, American Egg Board’s online Egg Product Buyers’ Guide can help find a supplier for real egg ingredients.


2016-10-10 08:20:11

The key to a better spongecake

When I would take my kids grocery shopping, I have to admit the baking section was one of their favorites. The aroma of fresh-baked goods drew their attention as sniffing delightedly they would beg me to buy one of their favorite treats.

Aroma is a key component for most baked goods. Sponge cakes are popularly used in snack cakes. And recent research shows that sponge cake aroma, form and flavor depend on the use of egg ingredients.

As part of a series of studies that evaluated the performance of egg replacers compared to egg ingredients, the research team elected to study sponge cake due to its universal availability and simple flavor. Sponge cake, a type of foam cake in its simplest form, relies on flour, sugar, whole eggs and salt for its base ingredients.

Sponge cakes offer a resilient structure suitable for filling, frosting and packaging. Whole eggs, balanced with sugar and flour, contribute much to this structure, for slightly chewy, yet airy, finely grained, evenly textured cake.

Researchers prepared a control product made with eggs and compared it to seven different types of egg replacers commonly recommended by manufacturers for this type of application.

Sponge cake quality most negatively affected by replacing eggs included batter viscosity and the finished cake’s color/appearance and texture. The control cake, made with whole eggs produced a product with golden brown color, a high rise, even top, uniformly open cell structure and sweet, eggy baked good, aroma and flavor. Sensory panelists evaluating organoleptic qualities found the product made with eggs most appealing.

Different egg replacer ingredients display varying water absorption capacities. A lead researcher said that if an ingredient absorbs an excessive amount of water, such as fiber-based ingredients or some blends, including hydrocolloids, additional water may need to be added to the formula to obtain the correct batter viscosity to flow through production equipment.

This can lengthen bake times to get the correct internal temperature and final moisture content, slowing the production process and producing an inferior cake.

The research results provide evidence that shows sponge cake baked using egg ingredients supply a superior product that will withstand the decorating, filling and packaging requirements of the snack cake industry.

You can find research results about the sponge cake on a new website dedicated to the study results called And, American Egg Board’s online Egg Product Buyers’ Guide can help find a supplier for real egg ingredients.

2016-09-26 13:37:13

Muffins made better with…

Is it just me, or are muffins one of the most versatile of all baked goods when it comes to potential for variety? I know we had a cupcake craze going for a while and I do enjoy them but muffins just seem more practical. The perfect single serve baked good for business meetings, a quick breakfast, snacks, you name it.

I think I have company in my opinion as muffins and donuts comprise 48% of packaged sweet snack sales according to data from the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS). While preparation is simple, most muffins are flavored or have inclusions.

Recently an independent research firm conducted a series of studies comparing egg replacers to egg ingredients in a number of baking scenarios, with muffins as one of them. Researchers selected for testing a crème cake blueberry muffin formula; while a relatively new formulation it is popular and easy for bakers to make. A pre-blend allows for test standardization.

Researchers prepared a control product made with eggs and compared it to nine different types of egg replacers commonly recommended by manufacturers for this type of application.

In addition to batter viscosity, flavor and texture were most affected.  Sensory panelists unanimously preferred the control to the other formulas.

It appears from testing that peak top muffin formulations, whether blueberry or another flavor benefit from the traditional use of eggs as a primary ingredient.

And while texture and flavor are vital concerns, processing is equally as important to the baker.

Researchers said egg replacement ingredients as a group produced a more highly viscous batter than that made with eggs. A highly viscous batter can cause uneven distribution of ingredients, especially particulates like blueberries. And proper batter viscosity is important for proper flow through depositing machinery.

The empirical evidence shows muffins baked using egg ingredients produce a quality product when evaluating aroma, texture and taste. In addition, the batter created using eggs allows for uniform commercial production and predictable results.

You can find the research documents about this study at And, American Egg Board’s online Egg Product Buyers’ Guide can help find a supplier for real egg ingredients. 

2016-09-12 17:25:43

Anyone up for a celebration?

We’ve been through all the popular phases in our family with birthday cakes, whether decorated with a Disney princess or golden snitch. Cake decorating is an art form I’ve never mastered. Yet once cut and ready to eat, the cake underneath is equally as or more important than the frosting.  And my family of extended relatives isn’t shy about proffering their opinion of any cake purchased and served for special occasions.

We share with most Americans a propensity for yellow batter cake, one of the most commonly available types found in both retail stores and home kitchens.  The list of ingredients is generally simple. However there are companies making cakes that substitute eggs for other ingredients suggested as egg replacements.

An independent research firm recently conducted a study comparing egg replacers to egg ingredients in a standard yellow batter cake formula. Egg replacers were used at the manufacturer’s suggested rate. The research team conducted extensive analytical and organoleptic tests to evaluate mixing and process differences, batter quality and the finished product.

For yellow batter cake, all areas of cake quality were negatively affected, especially flavor and texture. Not a single replacement product performed as well as or better than real eggs.

Real egg ingredients, particularly whole eggs, contribute a great deal of moisture to the batter. And while flour contributes much of a cake’s structure, eggs are almost equally as important for building structure. The color of a yellow batter cake is provided by natural carotenoids in egg yolks or whole eggs.

Cake batters are a complex oil in water emulsion and the natural lecithin in egg yolks is an extremely effective emulsifier, supporting many positive attributes such as texture and eating quality to yellow cakes. Eggs contribute to flavor, aid with shelf life extensions and help with tenderizing the crumb and the finished cake texture for a moist, supple eating quality in freshly baked cake.

You can find research results about the yellow batter cake on a new website dedicated to the study results called And, American Egg Board’s online Egg Product Buyers’ Guide can help find a supplier for real egg ingredients.

2016-08-29 13:22:54

IFT Q&A with Shelly McKee

American Egg Board (AEB) booth was a main stop for Eggs at Institute of Food Technologists’ Annual Meeting & Expo July 17-19 in Chicago. A steady stream of attendees was interested in the independent research confirming the functionality and flavor REAL Egg ingredients supply to baked goods, compared to the overall performance of a variety of egg replacers.

Dr. Shelly McKee, Technical Advisor for American Egg Board, was at AEB’s booth and answered many questions about the research. Below is a compilation of often-asked questions by IFT Expo attendees and Dr. McKee’s responses.

Can you give us an overview of the research project? What’s it all about?
The research project, led by CuliNex, LLC, Seattle, compared the use of real egg ingredients to a representative sample of replacers. Research protocol followed standard industry practices for objectivity and sound scientific method. To date, the team of culinologists/researchers compiled reports for eight application studies analyzing the behavior of egg ingredients compared to egg replacers in yellow-batter cake, sponge cake, cheese cake, sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, sweet dough, muffins and brownies. Throughout the project, no single replacer performed as well or better than egg ingredients within tests completed to date. Overall, quality is negatively affected when eggs are removed or replaced.

What egg replacers were used?
Egg replacers were selected based upon their usage within the industry for common application scenarios. Varieties selected represent the majority of ingredient types or blends most frequently recommended for egg replacement purposes. Study results should give formulators a reasonable portrait of their common behaviors and results within standard application scenarios.

How does using real eggs improve the quality of baked goods compared to egg replacers?
Eggs contribute a host of functional qualities to baked goods that are quite difficult to replicate with egg replacers, such as batter aeration, structure, texture, browning, emulsification, mouthfeel, and most noticeably, characterizing “sweet baked good” flavors and aromas. No two egg replacers perform the same, and as such, all must be tested in application. Without eggs, baked goods made with egg replacers can be overly pale, muted in flavor, weak in structure. Conversely, they can also be overly dark or excessively yellow, have strong off flavors and aromas, and be tough or dense.

How does using egg products help maintain a clean label for baked goods like cakes?
Egg products are listed on the ingredient statement simply as eggs, egg yolks, and/or egg whites. When eggs are removed, in most cases egg replacer(s) need to be used to provide some of the functionality eggs provided. Many egg replacer products are blends of ingredients, making for long, complex ingredient statements. They may also contain allergens, such as soy, wheat, and milk. Furthermore, because the source materials and usage rates vary considerably between egg replacers, there can be noticeable impact to the order of ingredients and nutritionals.

What are the multifunctional qualities that egg ingredients bring to cake products?
Egg ingredients provide beneficial qualities in baked goods, especially cakes. One of the most important qualities egg ingredients contribute is batter emulsification, which comes from the natural lecithin in egg yolk, an extremely effective emulsifier. Lecithin helps to promote the formation of small air bubbles in the batter, which expand in the heat of the oven and increase cake volume. Without proper emulsification, cakes can be greasy, coarse, and dense. Another important function eggs provide is the creation of structure, due to egg proteins which form a cross-linked network that traps gases and helps to form the crumb structure in the baked cake. Additionally, eggs contain more than 100 volatile flavor compounds and contribute a characteristic eggy, “sweet baked good” aroma and flavor that consumers expect from freshly baked cakes, and is noticeably lacking in cakes without real eggs.

Could substitution of some egg in a baking formula affect processes or the end product?
This can depend on the amount of egg used in a particular formulation. If the formulation is altered and it relies more extensively on eggs, the baker will be missing several functions if eggs are reduced or removed. The product structure might miss the air trapping capability of eggs in emulsion, which can also affect product volume. The structure will be weaker, and it will not have the same level of sponginess. Products will have a denser crumb and most will experience a shorter shelf life with more rapid staling.

Is there a single substitute that can replace egg functionality?
In order to achieve full functionality and an appearance, taste and texture similar to the original formulation with eggs, an egg substitute may also require the addition of emulsifiers, oils, gums, polysaccharides, acids, enzymes, colorants or flavoring agents. This can create a lengthy label statement and result in a product that falls short of expectations for taste, texture or appearance.

Egg ingredients supply more than twenty functional properties to foods, including aeration, binding, coagulation, emulsification, foaming and whipping, to name just a few. Egg ingredients can offer formulators better taste and broader range of effective functional attributes from a single ingredient that does not need to be combined with other ingredients for efficacy.

Research summaries are available online at

2016-08-15 14:02:27

No augmented reality necessary — Our booth remained the main stop for eggs at IFT 2016

I could not have predicted the extent to which a brand new, augmented reality game would grip the country the week before IFT.  “Pokémon Go” added an extra dimension of fun for convention goers while visiting the city of Chicago.

What I will predict is the resurgence of egg ingredient usage in manufacturing, based the results of new, independent research studies released at IFT and the buzz at the show about clean labels.

First, the research results. A set of new studies conducted by CuliNex, LLC, Seattle, compared the performance of egg replacers compared to real egg ingredients within gold standard formulas typically used in baking applications.  Study results confirmed the superior functionality and flavor that egg ingredients supply to baked goods and food products, compared to the overall performance of the wide variety of egg replacers tested.

In sum, no single replacer performed as well or better than egg ingredients within tests completed to date. Overall, batter specific gravity, product height and color are negatively affected when eggs are removed or replaced.

Initial tests were conducted on yellow batter cake, cheesecake and sponge cake.  Details about research protocol, methods, and the quantitative analytical and subjective sensory results can be found at

These research studies are significant because of their comprehensive nature. Researchers tested a broad variety of replacement ingredients for each application type, based on manufacturer recommendations.  Each individual study incorporated standard industry protocol to evaluate product quality from mixing, through baking and the final product, for texture, taste, appearance and much more.

Taste ranks highest in each annual Food & Health survey1 conducted by the IFIC Foundation. However, the triad of taste, texture and appearance forms the basis for repeat consumer purchases. In other words, someone might try a new food or beverage out of curiosity but repeat purchases spell success for a new product launch or line extension. And brand loyalty is built upon certain customer expectations and familiarity with past product experiences.

Finally, the clean label trend continues to gain momentum, according to all indicators at the show, from speakers and presentations to daily conversations we had with customers at the booth.

Egg ingredients can be listed simply as “eggs” in some cases to help create clean labels. And formulators can tap into the potential provided by more than twenty different functional properties. A single ingredient that supplies multiple functional properties can help keep labels shorter too. So in the quest to build a cleaner, simpler label, no augmented reality can match the properties and potential of real egg ingredients.  

1The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 2016 Food and Health Survey, “Food Decision 2016: The Impact of a Growing National Food Dialogue


2016-08-01 13:16:38

Protein Ingredients: Flavor Matters

Not all proteins are created equal; in fact, even within the same protein ingredient category there can be flavor differences. Experts shared this fact and more valuable information at the Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar held in May courtesy of Global Food Forums.

MaryAnn Drake, Ph.D., of the Southeast Dairy Foods Research Center at North Carolina State University, presented findings from the body of sensory research in a presentation titled, “Formulating with proteins: Processing and flavor challenges.”

An extensive body of research1 about protein’s off-flavors shows that all protein ingredients do not taste the same. Furthermore, dried protein ingredient flavor can carry through to the finished product.2

As companies experiment with ingredient substitution the flavor factor cannot get lost in the shuffle. Despite the fact that product trends change, taste is still a primary motivating factor behind consumer purchases. A consumer might try a product because of the label claims but the flavor or taste of the product is what prompts repeat purchases. In one bit of research Drake presented, when testing label claims against product taste, the protein label influenced the consumers’ “liking” of a product but NOT as much as the product’s actual flavor.

In the International Food Information Council (IFIC) annual survey, taste consistently rises to the top as a key factor in consumer purchases and this is corroborated by other research results from companies like Packaged Facts.

So while more than 50 percent of all consumers today are looking for more protein in their diet, the end product still has to provide the taste, structure and mouthfeel that prompts repeat purchases. As a side note, amidst the clamor over protein, other factors are equally as or more important to consumers. A Packaged Facts National Consumer Survey conducted in April 2016 noted that among ingredient issues “Especially Important” when choosing foods to eat  “natural” factor was the highest ranked ingredient feature amongst Millennials, with 57% of both males and females selecting “natural” compared to 45% for high protein.

Egg ingredients contribute a mild and pleasant taste to food formulations. Particularly within baking applications egg ingredients can supply the taste, texture and appearance that helps create gold standard products. Egg ingredients contribute to clean label declarations. And the list of functional properties includes more than 20 beneficial attributes for formulators from Adhesion to Whipping ability. Replacing the multiple functions of eggs with a single ingredient is not a likely possibility in scaled up manufacturing.

Egg ingredients give formulators a lot to consider. Taste is just one vital factor. For more information about egg ingredient functionality and its performance within formulations, click here.

1 Off-flavors are present in protein (Carunchia Whetstine et al., 2005; Russell et al., 2006; Drake, 2006; Wright et al., 2006; 2008)*

2 Dried protein ingredient flavor can carry through into finished products (Russel et al., 2006, Drake, 2006; Drake et al., 2008; Childs et al., 2007; Wright et al., 2008)*

*References courtesy of MaryAnne Drake, taken from her presentation

2016-07-18 15:28:24

Bridging the credibility gap

It’s no secret that consumers continue to ask increasingly probing questions about their food; where it comes from and how it’s made. And perhaps it is no surprise that chief among the questioners are Millennials, the generation that has grown up with sophisticated technology and an expanding universe of both valid information and sometimes misinformation.

Food manufacturers should take note however, that 43 percent of U.S. Millennials (Mintel) do not trust large food companies, compared to 18 percent of non-Millennials. And among all shoppers, 75 percent trust small companies more than large companies when it comes to producing all-natural products.

The big question is how to regain this trust? What should not be secret or should be increasingly transparent are the ingredients on your label. There have been some dramatic examples of reformulated products from major brands to meet this changing consumer environment. Because at least half of consumers of any generation worry about potentially harmful ingredients in the foods they buy. (Mintel)

However, with a definition about the word “natural” under FDA consideration, manufacturers are turning to other terms instead, such as pure, simple or real to promote these reformulated products that incorporate the simple ingredients consumers are seeking.

It doesn’t get more real than eggs. Egg ingredients fit into the traditional drivers for consumer purchases—after all, taste reigns supreme annually in the IFIC Food & Health Survey as the primary motivator for consumer food and beverage purchases. And eggs can fit into many of the evolving drivers as well, contributing to health and wellness factors such as satiety or a food’s protein profile, depending on the form of egg ingredient used and the amount. 

However, whether using a whole egg in a packaged breakfast sandwich or eggs as ingredients in baked goods, their “real” appeal and beneficial functional properties cannot be denied. We offer an extensive library of resources and ideas as thought starters for your product development efforts. Click here to view sample formulations for appetizers, desserts, main dishes, sauces and more.

2016-07-04 08:49:00

Grab-and-go profit potential

Summertime and warm weather beckons those who enjoy spending time outdoors. When our frantic schedules ease up a bit and offer the chance for some recreation, the last thing we want to do is spend a lot of time with food preparation. And to fuel summer activities, the perfect grab-and-go snack pack or mini meal will include a protein component like hard-boiled eggs.

The advantages and benefits of hard-boiled eggs are many and varied. For one thing, they can be marketed alongside other refrigerated single-serve protein snacks across all channels. Secondly, for a consumer population grown mostly weary of bars and shakes, hard-boiled eggs hold appeal due to their fresh taste, trusted nutritional credentials and portable format.

We recently completed a marketing study about hard-boiled eggs that focused on their nutritional and snacking benefits, while focusing also on their affordability when compared to other protein-rich foodstuffs. Eggs enjoy the halo effect of being seen as a “real food,” and as not being processed or high in fat, like many other protein-based snacks now in the market. Hard-boiled eggs are naturally portable, allowing for consumption throughout the day and on the run.

For the benefit of the product developer, we created a set of “Hard-Boiled Egg Fresh Protein Snacking Concepts,” essentially a newly imagined line of products inspired by the survey and rigorous research of the study’s respondents. In addition to our own concepts we invited respondents to create their own ultimate and appealing “Protein Snack Box” for three different occasions (snack, meal replacement and breakfast—the hottest meal segment in the marketplace at the moment).

Profit Potential

For pre-designed concepts, the two-egg protein snack pack with seasoning and a three compartment “protein power snack box” (containing hard-boiled egg, cheese portion and roasted edamame) were by far the favorites of participants in the concept test portion of the study.

Communicating the protein benefits of eggs and adding flavor made the snack pack and three-compartment power snack box winners in terms of the biggest earnings potential. They demonstrated high purchase intent, uniqueness, frequency and draw—with draw meaning a person would go to an outlet just for this item. The increase in both purchase intent and uniqueness was significant because these two measures usually are in inverse relationship to each other. High uniqueness and high purchase intent designates a “sweet spot” for new product concept development.

When we allowed consumers to design their own optimal protein pack, we found that the eating occasion, breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack, drove selection of the contents—the number and types of items paired with a hard-boiled egg.  For snacking, consumers preferred three overall components and for other occasions, three to four.

This means manufacturers can look to expand the varieties of fresh protein snack kits in the marketplace, optimize the number and type of components and offer consumers an innovative entry into the fresh protein snacking arena. For more detailed study results, please feel free to contact me at (847) 296-7043.

2016-06-20 08:26:56

“They’re eggs Jim, but not as we know them!”—Or are they?

Anyone else a Star Trek fan? Another new film that will continue the franchise is being released this summer. I know I was first in line to see a new cast of young actors breathe fresh life into a classic TV series. And I’m happy yet another generation can relish the adventures of Spock, Jim, Uhura and the rest of the crew of the Starship Enterprise.

What does this have to do with eggs? Just like movie concepts and story lines, foods and ingredients can experience resurgence as they are discovered by an emerging generation. Such is the case with hard-boiled eggs.

However, just like movies require a good plot, food also has to fit certain requirements in order to retain or regain popularity.

We recently conducted a study about hard-boiled eggs to discover how they fit into the emerging protein snack pack market. We found they align with consumers’ search for appetizing, healthy and convenient snacks. One millennial respondent wrote specifically on their survey, “They’re fast, easy and good for me. What’s not to like?”

I heartily agree. Hard-boiled eggs are an affordable protein option and low in fat compared to other protein types commonly included in snack packs. One large egg contains about 70 calories, along with six grams of protein and a host of additional vitamins and minerals.

The time is ripe for a protein pack revamp that includes hard-boiled eggs, especially considering the fact that survey respondents indicate they are weary of shakes and bars and would welcome innovation in the protein snack pack segment.

Our research revealed marketing insights that might help provide some guidance for product development. Respondents said the following could help improve on-the-go consumption of hard-boiled eggs:

  • Portability-focused packaging
  • The addition of flavor
  • Overt nutritional benefit communication on labels and branding

We’ll leave packaging to the experts, however when it comes to flavor, we have a host of ideas for dips, sauces or spice mixtures that pair up perfectly with hard-boiled eggs. Custom spice mixtures or dips can offer a touch of exotic, ethnic flair or remain traditional. But the fact of the matter is, hard-boiled eggs provide the perfect canvas to introduce almost any flavor concept consumers might find appealing.

For a list of flavor ideas to help spark some creative juices, click this link for spice blends and dip ideas we created for school foodservice programs. The flavor ideas and spice combinations would work just as well within a protein snack pack or meal kit for the grocery or C-store. And tune in to the next blog post to find out which “Protein Snack Box” concept hit the sweet spot for product development. For more detailed results from the study and/or nutritional information concerning each individual egg size, contact me at (847) 296-7043.

2016-06-06 13:02:53