Taking a new look at emulsifiers, part 1

by Laurie Gorton, Baking & Snack
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As formulators move away from partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) because they contain trans fats, alternatives are emerging. Jim Robertson, category manager, Corbion Caravan, Lenexa, KS, describes how customized mono- and diglyceride emulsifiers ease the transition.

Baking & Snack: How has the move away from trans fats in bakery shortenings altered the way bakers use emulsifiers? Why? What advice can you give to bakers about using Corbion Caravan emulsifiers to make this change?

Jim Robertson: In most bakery applications, the emulsifiers used will provide the same functionality regardless of the presence of trans-fat. Emulsifiers interact with starch and protein in bakery goods to provide a variety of benefits. For example, mono- and diglycerides are traditionally added to bread to improve the machinability and slice-ability, as well as, provide an enhanced eating quality. In addition, the mono- and diglycerides provide quality improvements, such as increased loaf volume, better loaf symmetry, and a tighter crumb structure. Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate (SSL) is another emulsifier commonly found in bread that provides many of the same benefits as the mono- and diglycerides with the added benefit of dough strength and resilience. The benefits described above are provided without the presence of trans-fat and a majority of the pan bread made today uses refined vegetable oil in place of partially hydrogenated shortening.

As mentioned above, emulsifiers will still interact with starch and protein without the presence of partially hydrogenated shortenings. However, as consumers become more health conscious, and bakers replace partially hydrogenated shortenings with more nutritionally desirable liquid oils, emulsifiers can provide additional benefits. Emulsifiers can be added to nutritionally beneficial unsaturated oils to provide the texture commonly associated with partially hydrogenated oils without the presence of trans-fat.

The solids contained in a shortening system are primarily responsible for developing the textural and eating qualities associated with that particular baked good. Trancendim is a specialty mono- and diglyceride developed by Corbion Caravan that can be added to healthy unsaturated oils to provide maximum functional solids with minimal saturated fat and elimination of trans fat. By using a mono- and diglyceride such as Trancendim, you can produce bakery products with a more desirable nutritional profile and meet the demands of the health conscious consumer.

As bakers work with the new-generation oils, should they also be looking at altering the amount or type of emulsifiers they use? Why? If they make changes, what do you recommend?

With respect to new-generation oils and emulsifier functionality, the type and amount are highly application dependent. When replacing partially hydrogenated oil with palm shortening or interesterified shortening for applications in which aeration is desired, for example cakes and icings, standard mono- and diglycerides and polysorbates are commonly added to the shortening system to aide in the aeration and emulsion stability of the cake or icing. However, if the baker uses a trait enhanced oil that lacks sufficient solids to enable emulsion development, lactylated monoglycerides or propylene glycol monoesters (PGME) are combined with higher levels of mono- and diglycerides. In this particular application, the emulsifiers play a critical role in stabilizing the air cells to provide cake with a consistent cell structure and improved cake volume. 

As mentioned previously, Trancendim can also be used to provide functional solids to a shortening system composed of healthy unsaturated oils while minimizing saturated fat and eliminating trans-fat. Trancendim has unique crystallization properties that allow it to form a crystalline network that solidifies a large percentage of unsaturated liquid oil. The resulting shortening has the plasticity of traditional partially hydrogenated shortening, delivering the same eating experience consumers are accustomed to, with the improved nutritional profile desire.

What is the most recent addition to your company’s line of emulsifiers for bakery use? Why was it developed, and what are its applications?

Corbion Caravan has recently added non-GMO emulsifiers to our portfolio. Our non-GMO offerings include distilled monoglycerides, mono- and diglycerides, as well as our specialty mono-diglyceride, Trancendim.  In addition to our non-GMO portfolio, we are also offering products made using certified sustainable palm oil.  These products will deliver the same functionality with the added benefit of meeting consumer demands.  As our industry evolves and the consumer desires change, Corbion Caravan will deliver the solutions needed to enable our customers' success.
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