With consumers clamoring for more natural-reading labels, bakers are delving into their product development toolbox and pulling out well-established ways to bolster nutrition and attain a great deal of versatility as well. Eggs offer a wealth of functionality that cannot be replicated without a host of replacement ingredients, some not as label-friendly as the egg itself. And dairy is a tried-and-true ingredient in bakery applications. “The benefits are time-tested,” said Scott Marckini, Batory Foods, Des Plaines, IL. Dairy delivers protein, calcium and other minerals while at the same time contributing to flavor, color and structure.

With similar functions and consumer perception, dairy and eggs have a long history in the bakery as powerhouse ingredients in bakery formulations.

Punching up formulas

Dairy and egg ingredients pack a potent punch of functionality in baked goods. Eggs alone bring more than 20 capabilities to a formulation including emulsification, coagulation, aeration and drying.

“They produce desirable crumb structure; they help with creating more uniform air cells and air distribution,” said Elisa Maloberti, director of egg product marketing, American Egg Board, Park Ridge, IL. “In addition to that, eggs supply a neutral pleasant taste, and they also contribute to a pleasing yellow color.”

Bakers can even separate out the egg to focus on one of its specific attributes. For example, for impressive foaming, bakers should rely on egg whites. “Egg yolks and whole eggs also form foams, but it’s not as voluminous as you would get with egg whites,” Ms. Maloberti said. “They can foam anywhere from six to eight times their volume.”

This aeration capability entraps large amounts of air within the proteins entangled during whipping, explained Robert Young, R&D bakery manager, Rembrandt Foods, Spirit Lake, IA. Such entrapment allows protein complexes to coagulate during baking and form a stable structure that gives baked goods their desired volume and appearance.

While egg whites may be perfect for foaming, the yolks are natural emulsifiers because they contain all the fat in the egg, and the whole egg contains all of these properties. Yolks also provide color, flavor, thickening and texture, Mr. Young added.

With all the functions eggs and their many variations can provide, it’s difficult to replace them. “There’s no one single ingredient that can replace the multiple functions provided by eggs,” Ms. Maloberti said. “With today’s market emphasis on clean-label statements, companies will try to avoid any steps that might cause an ingredient statement to lengthen, so that’s where egg ingredients can be beneficial to many baked goods.”

Dairy ingredients also have a lot to offer bakery formulations, sharing many of the same functions as eggs. They can form and stabilize emulsifications, enhance water binding, form foams, build structure as well as improve moisture retention and texture. According to John Gelley, sales manager, bakery North America, Arla Food Ingredients, Basking Ridge, NJ, dairy proteins provide multiple functionalities across a wide range of bakery applications. Specifically, Arla Food Ingredients’ products can whip more air into a sponge cake without losing shelf life, add tolerance and stability in the production process, add crispness or softness, improve texture and mouthfeel, and improve finished product stability.

Another major role dairy fills is contributing to the color and flavor of baked goods. “Browning not only enhances appearance but also imparts a pleasant caramelized flavor,” said Vikki Nicholson, senior vice-president, global marketing, US Dairy Export Council. Consumers expect certain amount of color and caramelization on all their baked goods, and the lactose in dairy ingredients provides that.

“That lactose in whey and whey permeate brings out that wonderful browning that you get but without adding sweetness from sugar,” Mr. Marckini said.

Right for the job

With eggs and dairy products, ingredient suppliers can take the functionality a step further by tweaking the ingredient to target specific needs. It’s up to the baker to work closely with the supplier to customize the ingredients to perform as needed.

Every egg ingredient — whether it’s whole eggs, egg yolks or egg whites — is made up of a standardized ratio of solids and moisture. That ratio can be adjusted slightly to change the ingredient’s functionality. For example, for liquid frozen whole eggs, the standard percentage of solids is about 24%. Adjusting the solid content would give a baker more or less egg functionality, Ms. Maloberti explained.

The same is true of dried egg products. Dried egg consists of only solids; all the moisture has been removed. Adding water reconstitutes dried egg ingredients, but by controlling how much water is added, bakers can reach the level of functionality they need.

Adding other ingredients to eggs can also bring out specific capabilities such as extending shelf life or providing high gelling abilities. Even something as simple as incorporating sugar or salt can change how eggs function. Sugar stabilizes the proteins in egg ingredients, thus maintaining egg white foams or batters, whatever product is being made. Salt promotes protein coagulation. Deciding which custom egg ingredients to use is up to the baker and supplier and what the product and process need.

The sheer variety of different forms dairy ingredients can take gives bakers many options for specific form or function. What type of functionality a baker is looking for will have significant bearing on the type of ingredient he or she chooses, explained Phil Blanchard, bakery segment manager, Agropur,

La Crosse, WI.

Concentrated and dry milk ingredients form and stabilize emulsifications and enhance water-binding and texture. They can improve structure and contribute to browning. Along with emulsification and browning, lactose improves moisture retention and crumb texture. Lactose also binds flavors and prevents their loss during processing and once the finished product is stored. Lactose also produces darker crust colors and softer crumb in sponge and yellow cakes as well as retarding sogginess in pie crusts, Ms. Nicholson pointed out.

As far as flavors go, milk fat and butter offer unique notes on their own but also act as carriers for fat-­soluble ingredients such as spices, herbs and sweet flavors. They also enhance structure, lend color and help maintain crumb softness and tenderness in cakes, pie crusts and pastries.

Whey permeate can also achieve browning in baked goods through a reaction between its protein and other reducing sugars present, including lactose, Ms. Nicholson said.

Beyond color, whey permeate brings out flavors that often would require adding sodium, Mr. Blanchard explained. “Whey permeate is very versatile in the flavor spectrum, successful in sweet, zesty and even savory food products,” he said.

Whey proteins are the epitome of dairy functionality, contributing solubility, water binding and absorption, viscosity, gelation, cohesion, adhesion and elasticity, emulsification and foaming. According to Ms. Nicholson, whey’s stability in foaming and whipping make it ideal for angel food cake and meringues, while whey protein concentrate can be used as a pre-bake glaze for excellent color and shine on pastries and biscuits. Whey protein concentrate can also impact the density, texture and appearance of cakes, sponges and cookies, Mr. Blanchard added.

When formulating with dairy ingredients, it’s also important not only to consider what role dairy will play in the formulation but also how it will impact it. “For instance, the lactose, protein and usage levels of a dairy ingredient may impact water requirements, baking time and temperatures, or time required to mix dough to maximum consistency — depending on the ingredient’s characteristics,” Ms. Nicholson explained.

Packed with protein

Eggs and dairy not only provide plenty of functional benefits to baked goods, but they both are also ingredients with healthy halos and clean-label credibility — and plenty of protein.

While there isn’t enough egg in every serving of a baked product to warrant many nutritional claims, eggs do provide a number of nutritional pros that gives them a positive perception among consumers.

“Besides being the glue for baking application, eggs are a ‘complete’ source of protein because they contain all eight essential amino acids, the ones we cannot synthesize in our bodies and must obtain from our diet,” Mr. Young said. Beyond their obvious protein, the egg white also contains selenium, vitamins D, B6 and B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper. The yolk contains cholesterol and vitamins A, D, E and K as well as lecithin.

Protein, however, is the current hot trend as far as nutrition goes. Consumers are snacking more and want alternatives that are healthy and satisfying. Protein-rich snacks are being touted as the answer to that demand. “Dietary fads come and go, but I don’t think protein is one of them,” Mr. Marckini noted. “Protein has measurable benefits, measurable performance standards that people can see.”

Egg is an obvious source of protein, but dairy ingredients also can give bakery items a boost, nutritionally and functionally. “When one works with protein in a bakery application you have the two-fold effect of improving the product to make it more appealing to health-conscious consumers while at the same time working with a formula that can lead to improved moisture retention, more chewiness, better color and flavor,” Mr. Blanchard said.

Protein from a dairy source also carries the attractive clean-label quality. Arla Food Ingredients touts that its protein-enriching dairy ingredients deliver 100% natural proteins.

 Glanbia Nutritionals, Fitchburg, WI, has taken its expertise in protein-enriched sports nutrition and started to apply it to the baking industry. “People want to be able to snack during the day and even have a treat and know there is some kind of nutrition there,” said Nicole Rees, the company’s business development manager. “Protein is seen as an ideal for keeping people full longer, but as you add protein to product, there can be a flavor impact. Glanbia’s expertise is really in picking the right protein for the application so you don’t have that impact.”

Sometimes, the choice is a simple whey product to take a bakery product to a “good source” claim at 5 g protein per serving. Other times, the baker needs a dairy protein in combination with another protein to manage taste and other challenges that come with added protein. “We already have the expertise to pull from specific proteins that we know what their behaviors are going to be for shelf life, how they bind water, how they build structure, how they emulsify and so forth. We can match the needs and also provide a really good flavor,” Ms. Rees said. 

Even the commodity dairy ingredients deliver milk’s basic nutrients. Milk powders such as skim milk powder or nonfat dry milk powder carry protein, calcium and soluble vitamins, according to Ms. Maloberti.

Whey, the liquid portion of milk that remains after cheese-making, contains lactose, minerals, vitamins, protein and traces of milk fat. “The most valuable component of whey is its protein, which delivers enhanced functionality and nutrition to many formulations,” she said. “Whey protein is a high quality, complete and easily digestible protein containing all of the essential amino acids your body needs.” Whey protein is available in several varieties including whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, reduced lactose whey and sweet whey.

Whey permeate also shows some potential as a way to reduce sodium in baked goods. Permeate — also known as dairy product solids, deproteinized whey or modified whey — contains lactose and the minerals present in milk. Research shows that by adding permeate, bakers can reduce the amount of salt in their formulations because the minerals in permeate deliver that salty flavor, according to Mr. Marckini. “Anything a formulator can do to make the product healthier is something people are really interested in,” he said. “Deproteinized whey is one way they can do that.”

Arla Food Ingredients also taps into dairy’s most obvious nutritional contribution — calcium — with its milk mineral concentrate. With high levels of calcium, milk mineral concentrate can be used to boost levels of calcium in baked products or filling cremes.

Balancing consumer perception of a clean label with science-backed nutrition while still maintaining the same functionality can be tough. Egg and dairy ingredients, with their plethora of capabilities and wholesome attributes, provide bakers a time-tested option to meet all of these needs.