When it comes to icings and glazes, moisture and temperature are at the center of everything: processing, texture, consistency and shelf life, and even how they hold up shape and interact with packaging. Gums and stabilizer systems can improve upon all of these needs.

“Bakers will not have the same degree of control over the texture of the icing without the use of gums,” said Troy Boutte, Ph.D., principal scientist, DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences. “And glazes and icings made without gums will be much more susceptible to quality issues due to shipping and storage conditions.”

The power of gums is that they bind water. This power comes into play in a multitude of ways. By binding water, gums help with shelf life, freeze-thaw stability and improve icings and glazes’ texture and quality.

“By foregoing the use of hydrocolloids in icing and glaze formulations, developers run the risk of increased defects to their finished goods,” said Anna McKinney, food technologist, TIC Gums. “This could appear in a number of ways, such as sugar crystallization, glaze cracking, slower set times and more syneresis during shelf life.”

When it comes to shelf life, controlling moisture is critical because it’s a major contributor to staling. By binding up the free moisture in the icing, gums prevent it from moving around.

“Gums help restrict the water migration between the icing or glaze and the product, whether that’s a cake, snack cake, pastry or Danish,” said Marissa Stubbs, bakery account manager, Agropur. “This allows the carrier, like a cake, to maintain the desired product texture and food safety by keeping the water where it belongs to prevent microbial growth.”

Stabilizing moisture movement is also critical for those iced or glazed baked foods that will be frozen and eventually thawed. In moisture-centric applications, the formulation must be stable to maintain quality throughout a freeze-thaw process.

“In icings, the gums thicken the entire mass, which helps to stabilize the emulsion while stabilizing the air cells, reducing coalescence,” Dr. Boutte said. “This helps to make a lighter icing with improved shelf life. This is especially important if the icing will be frozen or heat-stressed.”

In the case of glazes, gums not only improve freeze-thaw stability, but they also provide the gelling necessary to set the glaze quickly before packaging, he explained. This allows bakers to move their products quickly without risking the visual appeal.

“The gums also reduce or eliminate cracking of the glazes,” Dr. Boutte said.

Wrapped up in moisture control is also the benefit of improved texture and pliability. This enhances the application onto a baked food as well as preservation of the shape throughout production, packaging and shelf life.

“The fact that gums can hold water and also control viscosity means they can also help with adhesion to the product and the setting of the icing, and bakers can avoid product sticking to the wrapper or packaging,” said Matt Gennrich, senior food scientist, Cargill.

Improved texture and pliability also apply to consistency between batches regardless of environmental factors. Icings and glazes can be testy when it comes to temperature and humidity because their consistency is so dependent on moisture and heat.

“Bakers need to formulate solid products that are untouched by the many external factors they may face, including time, temperature, processing speed, raw material inconsistencies and downtime,” Ms. Stubbs said.

For example, a facility’s temperature and humidity will change dramatically between winter and summer, and product has to be equipped to handle those swings.

“You can’t change your processing parameters drastically because the temperature in your plant is different from one day to the next,” she said. “Gums will help provide consistent reproducibility between batches and lots.”

This article is an excerpt from the July 2019 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on gums and stabilizers, click here.