While formulators find great value in the functional properties supplied by separated egg ingredients, such as egg whites or egg yolks, whole eggs operate with great efficiency in multiple baking applications.
The baking sector encompasses a wide variety of formats, from bread and rolls to pastries and desserts. Euromonitor estimated the total 2015 international baked goods market at $339 billion in sales.
Historically, baked goods rely on a few simple ingredients. Depending on the finished product the list often includes flour, sugar, eggs, butter or shortening, milk or water, leaveners and flavoring. From that list, whole eggs can contribute multiple functional and organoleptic properties to the vast majority of baked goods such as cakes.
Liquid whole eggs are approximately 74 percent moisture and contribute moisture to cake batter. In addition, while flour helps build cake structure, eggs are almost equally as important to a cake’s structure. The proteins within eggs when physically mixed and heated unfold or denature. The proteins then form a cross-linked network to hold in gases, creating a relatively stable foam of tiny air bubbles, which help create the crumb structure in the baked cake. Carotenoids in the yolk contribute to the golden brown crust or exterior and for a yellow cake, the color of the cake interior. In addition, eggs act as an emulsifier in the complex oil-in-water emulsion phase of cake mixing, supporting cake texture and eating quality.
Whole eggs aid with flavor development in cakes, without lending any strong or off-putting flavors themselves. Whole eggs, especially the fat in the yolk, act as an effective flavor carrier to allow fat-soluble flavoring ingredients, such as vanilla extract, more prominence. Whole eggs also help interfere with starch retro gradation to prevent or delay staling. And the natural lipids in egg yolks and whole eggs help create a moist, supple eating quality.
For whole eggs in baked goods, obviously one or more functional benefits carry greater prominence depending on the format of the baked good. For example, in cheesecake, with flour completely or primarily absent, that style of confection relies principally upon eggs for its structure, with the coagulative properties supporting the rich, dense cheese filling.
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