Functionality and nutrition are important challenges that need to be addressed when selecting fats and oils to use in bakery products, but making these ingredients easier for operators to incorporate has also been on the collective mind of the industry.

“Bakers often seek the sensory attributes and functionality offered by partially hydrogenated oils (p.h.o.s) standard but without the trans fats,” said Mark Stavro, senior director of marketing, Bunge Loders Croklaan. “While most brands eliminated p.h.o.s years ago, some of the initial replacements came with their own challenges: an off-white appearance, waxy mouthfeel, narrow working temperature or post-hardening.”

As formulators try to improve these attributes, non-p.h.o. fats and oils have gotten cleaner and have more stable temperature ranges. Some applications also have been more difficult to solve than others.

“Icings are a real issue,” said Frank Flider, consultant for Qualisoy. “If you make them too hard or too soft, you can’t spread them, or you have run-off. Dependent on how they’re stored, temperature characteristics are really important.”

If icings, or the fats used in icings, are stored in cold temperatures, they begin to lose their ability to spread because non-p.h.o. fat solutions for icings didn’t have wide working temperature ranges. In cold temperatures, those fats hardened, making it difficult for them to spread. In warm temperatures, the fats were too soft, causing the icing to melt right off the baked foods.

“By widening the working temperature of an icing, you could make something that was softer at the spreading range but still maintain the integrity at higher temperatures or won’t crack at freezing,” Mr. Flider said.

This makes icings and the fat solutions in them more storage-friendly and also easier for cake decorators and equipment to apply to a baked food.

Much of this is possible through enzymatic interesterification and high-oleic oils and shortenings.

“Enzymatic interesterification results in a shortening with a wide temperature tolerance and smooth workability,” Mr. Stavro said.

Bunge Loders Croklaan recently launched its Vream line of EIE shortenings tailored to specific bakery applications, all of which promote ease-of-use and functionality.

“For example, Vream icing shortenings resist post-hardening, which improves mouthfeel and extends shelf life,” he said. “Vream Pie is designed to mimic traditional lard, and it has a better freeze-thaw tolerance than conventional shortenings.”

Cargill developed PalmAgility to facilitate ease of use and storage of shortenings across a range of processing conditions and temperature. This includes increased creaminess for easier incorporation of ingredients, less brittleness and a wider range of plasticity.

It also works for several bakery applications.

“PalmAgility is a single solution that addresses multiple needs across supply chains and unit operations,” explained John Satumba, R.&D. director of Cargill’s global edible oils business in North America.

Having one all-purpose shortening enables bakeries to keep only one ingredient on hand, rather than storing multiple different kinds of fat. It also makes it easier on operators filling the mixing bowl. By working together, Columbus Vegetable Oils was able to help a baker consolidate from several different shortenings to one that could be used in all the company’s products.

“This was achievable once we worked through the various products and processes to see how the shortening was being used and incorporated into the products,” said Rick Cummisford, director of quality control at Columbus Vegetable Oils. “The end solution involved some minor processing changes on mixing speeds and times as well as conditioning the shortening to different temperatures for different applications.”

This front-end work allowed the same ingredient to provide different properties and textures for each particular product.

The landscape has changed so much for fats and oils that bakers may not be aware of what is achievable. What seemed like an unattainable dream just a few years ago in terms of nutrition or processability may now be within reach. It’s all about working together.

“It’s important for bakers to know that they can put demands on their suppliers,” Mr. Flider encouraged. “If there’s something they want, 20 years ago it might not have been possible, but now it might be. Be creative and work with suppliers, because it’s amazing what we can do.”

This article is an excerpt from the September 2019 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on fats and oils, click here.