Facing today’s short supply in egg whites, bakers are sending in other proteins as substitute players. It’s an old strategy but still beneficial.

“For years, the use of whey and other such ingredients has not been so much for protein enhancement as for egg replacement,” observed John Gelley, sales manager, bakery North America, Arla Food Ingredients.

There are health advantages, too.

“When partially replacing eggs, whey proteins can remove 90% of the saturated fats and up to 99% of the cholesterol,” he said.

Such functionality shouldn’t be surprising. Proteins are film-formers. Although gluten and egg white are best known for this property, they are hardly unique.

The network formation ability of a new whey protein isolate, made by an ion exchange process, was described by Craig Sherwin, Ph.D., director of the protein technology center, Davisco International, Eden Prairie, Minn., as similar to, and in some applications superior to, the protein network that egg whites form.

“During baking of batters and doughs, it strengthens the bubbles that grow to produce a light texture and high baked volume,” he said.

Penford Food Ingredients, headquartered in Centennial, Colo., to be acquired by Ingredion, combined whey and soy to function as an egg replacer in gluten-free baked foods.

“Proteins such as soy and whey protein isolates have the capacity to thermogelate during the initial stage of baking,” explained Ana Maria Garavito Rojas, food scientist, Gum Technology, a business unit of Penford Food Ingredients. “This provides gluten-free goods with the structure that normally provided by gluten proteins or eggs.”