Depending on which survey results you believe the most, either apple or pumpkin pie reigns supreme as the favorite encore for Thanksgiving dinner. In my family, both share space with some cheesecake and other desserts as well, so that everyone can select a favorite (or two—the holidays certainly allow for a bit of indulgence).
While many swear by secret family recipes that guarantee a flavorful outcome, others rely on bakeries or the refrigerated and frozen section of their nearby supermarket. According to Mintel the entire category of retail prepared cakes and pies reached $11.2 billion in sales in 2014, representing a 24% increase since 2009. And 61% agree gourmet or premium products are worth paying a bit extra for, including 72% of those ages 25-34. This is an area driven by indulgence.
Egg ingredients help provide structure and rich flavor in many refrigerated desserts, including cheesecake, custards, puddings, certain pie fillings (such as the ubiquitous pumpkin or pecan) and of course, refrigerated cakes.
The coagulative properties of egg yolks and whole eggs help set cheesecake in general, although there are two broad categories of cheesecake: solid/heavy/New York style, and light/French type that contains beaten egg white meringue for greater volume and a lighter texture.
New York style cheesecakes should bake at lower temperatures for a longer amount of time, with low-pressure steam for a moist environment. Overbaking causes the top of the cheesecake to dry out and crack, and can cause the interior to become gritty/grainy rather than smooth. Cracking also can occur when the cake cools too fast; cakes must be cooled thoroughly in a draft-free environment.
Egg ingredients and starch-based thickeners work synergistically to provide viscosity and structure. Fillings with too much starch can become glue-like and have a pasty mouthfeel. And unlike eggs, which enhance most flavors in baked goods, starches can have a tendency to dull flavors, especially in fruit fillings.
Soft-filled pies or pudding and custard creams rely on eggs for thickening properties—as the eggs are heated they aid product structure. Just note that sugar raises the temperature at which eggs coagulate, and acids decrease the temperature required for coagulation. For shelf-stable pumpkin pies, added moisture (such as water and liquid eggs) should not exceed 100% of the pumpkin weight.
Chiffon pie fillings or Bavarian creams are lighter and rely on the aerating properties of the egg white. As air is incorporated into egg whites as they are beaten, the structural framework created by the egg proteins help hold products together. In addition, egg white helps increase volume for lighter foods, lends an airy texture and smooth mouthfeel and allows the other ingredients to achieve better integration.
As a reminder, all liquid, frozen and dried egg products are pasteurized. Not only has there never been a food-borne illness associated with pasteurized egg products, the process also lends the ingredients a more extended shelf life without sacrificing quality, flavor or performance. To locate a supplier of quality egg ingredients, visit our Buyers’ Guide.