Sweet goods need the functionality of eggs, but there are ways to extend and replace these increasingly expensive, and scarce, ingredients. Jon Stratford, sales and marketing manager, Natural Products, Inc., Grinnell, IA, describes how ingredients using full-fat soy can address the egg supply crisis and benefit bakers even after the egg situation abates. He gives practical advice to guide the reformulation process.

Baking & Snack: What is the basis for Natural Products’ Scotsman’s Mill products that extend or replace eggs in bakery applications? What replacement rates are possible? Which baked foods respond best?

Jon Stratford: Our egg replacers were formulated to provide the most important functional properties of eggs in sweet baked goods: emulsification and structure building.

At NPI, we make full-fat soy ingredients. While most of the soy flour used in food has had the oil extracted, we leave the oil in all our finished products. Full-fat soy and whole dried eggs contain similar amounts of fat and protein and, as a result, share many of the same functional properties in baked goods.

Importantly, there is lecithin in the oil of the soybean — the same strong emulsifying agent found in egg yolks. Because of these similarities, our soy flour is an excellent base ingredient with which to formulate oil-and-protein-based egg replacers that provide the most important functional properties of eggs in a variety of baked goods.

Scotsman’s Mill Egg replacers work best in applications where powdered eggs comprise 0.5 to 2.5% of the total formula (liquid eggs, 2.0 to 10.0%) and where the functionality of the eggs is primarily emulsification and secondly structure building.

With Scotman’s Mill egg replacers, 25 to 50% replacement is reasonable in many types of cakes; 50 to 75% replacement is reasonable in many muffins, cake donuts, and brownies; and 50 to 100% replacement is reasonable in pancakes, waffles, cookies, and sweet doughs.

What changes in formulation are required to accomplish this?

Formulation adjustments could be very minimal, or they could be quite extensive. It depends on the application and the goals of the project. We recommend thinking of egg replacement more as a process than an ingredient.

Eggs are such a critical part of most sweet baked goods, that any reduction of eggs will impact various aspects of the finished baked product. It will take a commitment to a step-wise reformulation process to maintain the desired qualities in the finished product. The suppliers of egg replacers have the most experience doing formulation work with their own ingredients. They should be relied upon to help shorten the R&D time to getting a reformulated product to market.

We recommend a thorough project review and goal setting before bench trials begin. The supplier and customer can review the product line together and develop a well-informed prioritized list based on the applications in which success can be achieved most quickly. For example, if a bakery is making both chewy cookies and creme cakes, the cookies will be much easier to reformulate and realize a benefit for the company.

Before running any trials, the supplier can recommend a suitable starting ratio of replacement. In some applications where whole dried eggs are being replaced, the replacement ratio may be a straightforward 1:1. In applications where liquid eggs are being replaced, the ratio may be 4:1 water-to-solids or even 5:1.

Once the replacement goal has been agreed upon and a starting substitution ratio has been determined, we recommend a four-stage process in reformulating and optimizing a reduced-egg or egg-free baked product.

The first stage involves getting the total water rebalanced in the dough or batter because a soy-based egg replacement system will typically require a slight increase in water. Balancing the water is critical because, like eggs, water affects just about every system in a baked product. If a dough or batter is starved for water, a host of quality differences will appear and discourage further R&D. Getting the water balanced will generally yield a promising base formula.

The second stage in the process involves addressing volume, crumb, and structural properties, during which the baker can use basic bakery technology techniques, as recommended by the supplier.

Thirdly, focus on mouthfeel and flavor.

Fourth, look at external appearance of the baked product.

In general, this four-step process will help the baker determine the maximum amount of replacement for the application, while maintaining all the qualities of the original formula.

Do you think the adoption of egg replacers will be a permanent change in bakery formulations?

The sheer scale of the current situation may encourage some manufacturers to permanently change to new formulations, some of which will contain egg replacers. Others will go back to their original formulas once egg availability and pricing return to more normal levels.

We do see manufacturers doing a more thorough evaluation of several egg replacers in a wider variety of applications than at other times when egg prices have climbed. There seems to be a stronger commitment to generally reduce the reliance upon eggs and mitigate the risks associated with the egg supply chain. That is pushing egg replacement suppliers to further develop our technical knowledge of our egg replacers.

Editor’s note: For a slideshow of egg replacer ingredients, click here. The July 2015 issue of Baking & Snack carries full coverage of the egg situation and egg replacer ingredients.