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 RealEggs.org.