Acing icing without phos
Alternative oils offer ways to maintain product quality, shelf life.

LAS VEGAS — The International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE), not surprisingly, featured an abundance of icing samples. Much sparser was the use of partially hydrogenated oils (phos) in those icings. Instead, blends featuring such alternatives as palm oil, high-oleic soybean oil and high-oleic canola oil were used in the event held Oct. 8-11 in Las Vegas.

The next IBIE in 2019 may be void of phos completely. The Food and Drug Administration in June 2015 finalized its determination that phos, the primary dietary source of industrially produced trans fat, are not Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for use in human food. Food manufacturers have until June 18, 2018, to remove phos from all their products, not just solely icings.

When removing phos from icings, bakers, chefs and other food manufacturers still must keep the icing from cracking and the shelf life from dropping. Cost and nutritional benefits are factors, too.

Along with being alternatives to phos, high-oleic soybean oils have less saturated fat than conventional soybean oil. Mitch Riavez, a certified master baker and national accounts manager for Stratas Foods, L.L.C., Memphis, Tenn., gave reasons for using shortening with enzymatically interesterified (E.I.E.) high-oleic soybean oil Oct. 9 at the IBIE. Interesterification is a processing technique in which fatty acids are rearranged within and among triglyceride molecules. It has the ability to produce a range of products similar to those produced from partial hydrogenation.

Mr. Riavez addressed the higher price for E.I.E. high-oleic soybean oil.

“If I sold you a case of shortening that was $8 more than the last case you bought, you would say, ‘That’s outrageous. I’m not going to pay that,’” he said. “But you didn’t even measure the bowl yield yet to know how many cakes you can ice out of that (case).”

Mr. Riavez said more air and more water gets into the shortening quicker when using the E.I.E. high-oleic soybean oil than when using phos, which leads to more volume.

“So what does that actually mean?” he said. “You ice more cakes (per case).”

Mr. Riavez said retail bakers might sell an 8-inch layer cake for $17 or $17.50. When switching to shortening from E.I.E. high-oleic soybean oil, they could increase the price to $18.

“If you sold every cake for 50 cents more, you paid for the shortening,” he said.

He said the price of high-oleic soybean oil will come down over the years as the acreage for high-oleic soybeans increases.

Less than a quarter billion lbs of high-oleic soybean oil is available for commercial use this year. The goal is to have 9.3 billion lbs available by 2026, according to Qualisoy, an independent, third-party collaboration among the soybean industry.

Qualisoy has performed icing tests that compared pho soybean shortening, palm-based shortening, E.I.E. conventional soybean shortening, E.I.E. high-oleic soybean shortening and E.I.E. high-oleic canola shortening. Icing based on E.I.E. high-oleic oil shortening had a better workability over palm over a wide temperature range. Specific gravity was similar. The viscosity was lower than phos in all the icings with that from E.I.E. high-oleic soybean shortening the lowest. Overall performance of the E.I.E. high-oleic soybean oil was the closest to that of phos.

The IBIE demonstration on Oct. 9 also featured Becky Wortman, a chef and icing sculptor who was named one of the top 10 cake artists in North America in 2014 by Dessert Professional Magazine. Using shortening from E.I.E. high-oleic soybean oil, she sculpted a cake made to look like a slot machine.

“I’m not a food scientist, but this stuff is really flexible and lasts a long time,” Ms. Wortman said. “I’ve had sculptures sitting up for about a year.”

Regal debuts

Also at the IBIE, Minneapolis-based Cargill launched a Regal line of bakery shortenings, which included an icing shortening that provides a snow-white look and clean flavor. Besides no hydrogenated oil, it is 20% lower in saturated fats than most palm-based shortenings. A patent is pending for the technology behind the product.

The Regal icing shortening, which features high-oleic canola oil along with palm oil, offers good mouthfeel and broad plasticity, said Janet A. Bones, assistant vice-president, research and development, for Cargill Dressings, Sauces & Oils. The shortening has a clean flavor and is fluffy and light, which translates into more icing volume, she added.

Stratas Foods recently introduced Apex, a soybean shortening that is not partially hydrogenated. The Apex line uses Stratas’ proprietary Flex crystallization technology. The shortening’s functionality expands the reach of non-pho-based shortenings into more challenging applications such as baking, icing and donut applications, according to Stratas.

“Apex offers pho utility without the pho,” said Roger Daniels, vice-president of research, development and innovation at Stratas Foods, when the line was launched in July. “This innovation moves the needle in terms of consistency, stability, firmness and performance by leveraging, for the first time, the marriage of Stratas’ functional crystallization with an expanded and more resilient fatty acid platform. Moreover, Apex achieves this major step with a soybean oil rather than a palm oil-based system.”

Palm’s positives

Palm oil always has played a role in the move away from phos.

AAK, Edison, N.J., showed a cinnamon Danish with non-hydrogenated cinnamon palm flakes at the IBIE. The Danish featured a blend of Cisao non-hydrogenated fats from AAK.

Cisao 8120 was used in the icing and provided a moisture barrier, said Chris Bohm, customer innovation manager – bakery for AAK. The streusel crumb contained Cisao 8210 to have an “almost candy-like” feel, he said, adding the streusel should be soft, not too brittle, and break up in the mouth.

In the dough, Cisao 8253, a flaked shortening with ground cinnamon, provided an even distribution of fat and a light flaky texture without the roll-in process. Cisao 8285, an all-purpose margarine and roll-in fat, provided emulsification, color and a smooth plasticity and consistency that spreads throughout the lamination process. Cisao 8315 gave the cinnamon smear filling “spread-ability.”

Palm oil supplier IOI Loders Croklaan, Channahon, Ill., has developed more than 200 pho-free systems offering functionality across a range of applications leveraging the versatility of palm oil.

Wholesome!, an organic sweetener brand based in Sugar Land, Texas, used palm oil in its Fair Trade organic frostings launched in October. The amount of saturated fat per serving in the frostings ranges from 2 grams for both the vanilla variety and the wild white strawberry variety to 5 grams for the chocolate variety.