Hens lay about five eggs a week, and many of them often go into sweet baked goods where they tenderize cookie crumb and give rise to cakes. While bakers appreciate the many functions of eggs, they don’t care for the unexpected supply-and-demand issues, which often result in price increases. This is one of the reasons bakers partially and, with some applications, fully replace eggs with ingredients that offer similar benefits without the unstable prices.

“Real eggs provide a number of functions in bakery formulations from taste and texture, to quality, appearance and consistency,” said Kathy Sargent, global strategic innovation director, Corbion. “Egg replacers are a great way to help bakers replicate these while reducing, replacing or extending the use of fresh, frozen or powdered eggs while creating delicious baked goods that meet consumer expectations.

“In previous years, salmonella outbreaks and egg recalls have led to supply shortages,” she continued “This year, the spread of COVID-19 has led to an increased demand for eggs. These scares can cause fluctuations in the supply and subsequent pricing volatility. The effect these sudden cost increases can have on businesses can be troubling, causing bakers to seek out reliable solutions that can fulfill the same functions eggs provide, in an ingredient with predictable pricing and reduced financial impact.”

Finding functionality

No one ingredient offers the 20-plus properties that eggs provide. Physical functions include aeration, binding, emulsifying and dough strengthening. Eggs also assist with maintaining moistness and extending shelf life. Depending on the egg ingredient, color and flavor may also be influenced. When identifying a replacer, it is critical to know how the ingredient must perform.

“It is far easier to duplicate eggs’ emulsification than its structure-building properties,” said Jon Stratford, sales and marketing manager, Natural Products, Inc. “Generally, the flatter [the sweet baked good] the better; however, flatness is not the best predictor of how easy it will be to reduce or replace eggs.”

There is a correlation between the percentage of eggs in the formula and how much volume and structure the eggs provide, Mr. Stratford explained.

“The lower the percentage of eggs, the less that formula is likely reliant upon eggs to provide structure and volume, and the better the odds of successfully replacing a significant percentage of the eggs with an egg replacer,” he said.

Corbion offers a variety of replacement solutions designed for specific goals and applications. This includes an egg extender that can act as a total replacement for fresh or frozen whole eggs in yeast products and cookies and as a 50% replacement in soft cakes. Another ingredient replaces 25 to 50% of liquid whole eggs in sweet baked goods and acts as a total replacement for eggs in yeast products. It provides emulsification and color to deliver richness to sweet breads.

“Our egg white replacement solutions can replace 50 to 100% of egg whites in sweet baked goods such as cakes and chemically leavened batters,” Ms. Sargent said. “It provides excellent strength and volume, resulting in finished products that are fluffy, moist and tender and is intended as a 1:1 replacement for powdered egg whites. Another ingredient is designed to replace up to 30% of egg whites in chemically leavened angel food cakes while maintaining volume, structure, resilience and texture. Neither requires reconstitution, and both are easy to scale and handle.”

Corbion’s most recent ingredient technology is designed specifically for formulations such as sponge cakes that are highly reliant on egg products. It can deliver high levels of egg reduction and act as a total egg replacement in chocolate cupcakes, according to
Ms. Sargent.

“Cakes, for instance, are much more challenging to work with because of the reliance on eggs to provide so many different functions, including color, moistness, volume, resilience and emulsification viscosity,”
Ms. Sargent added.

When these attributes are missing or disappear too quickly over time, the consumer views the product as inferior. It reduces product shelf life and leads to food waste.

Custom Solutions

Customized texturizing systems include multiple ingredients to replicate the numerous functions egg products contribute. Some ingredients include modified food starch, soy flour, lecithin, monoglycerides and diglycerides, potato protein, and carrageenan.

Brolite Products offers a range of egg replacements for all types of bakery applications. Some contain egg while others are egg-free alternatives.

“We have several options with no color or no soy, with the latter removing another allergen,” said Jeff Nelson, vice president Western sales, Brolite. “With most cookies, our products can replace 100% of the eggs used while offering substantial cost savings over eggs. We offer one egg replacement product to replace up to 50% of eggs in cakes with no change in the volume or quality.”

DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences offers a range of cellulosics, protein and hydrocolloid ingredients that may assist with partial or full egg replacement in sweet baked goods. Depending on usage level, these ingredients may contribute to the fiber content per serving.

“Modified cellulose ingredients can help provide the thermal stability, volume, crumb structure, air cell distribution and moistness that is expected in a traditional egg-based baked good,” said Elizabeth Diaz, senior application scientist at DuPont. “Depending on the formula and product dimensions of the sweet baked good, for full egg replacement it may be necessary to incorporate soy or pea protein, or a cold-gelling hydrocolloid, carrageenan, pectin or others to fully stabilize and reinforce the cooled structure.”

The cellulose ingredients can be incorporated into a dry blend or prepared as an emulsion.

“It is a unique hydrocolloid that can thermally gel at a temperature and firmness similar to that of eggs and can be used across sweet baked goods applications,” Ms. Diaz said.

The thermal gel is reversible when incorporated via the dry blend method. When the cellulose ingredient is prepared as an emulsion, it becomes a non-reversible thermal gel upon baking, in which case, it can provide both the thermal gel and cooled structure.

Certain cellulose ingredients work well for products like vegan macaroons, a sweet treat that traditionally is made using egg whites. The cellulose ingredient is incorporated in a manner similar to egg whites, where the cellulose is whipped with water and powdered sugar to create a firm meringue. Then the remaining ingredients, namely flour, sugar and ground almonds, are folded into the foam.

“This approach does not collapse the foam system. Unlike most protein-based foaming systems, certain cellulose systems are tolerant to the addition of oils, fats and other particulates without collapsing,” Ms. Diaz said. “Their unique thermal gelation property enables the macaroon to maintain its shape and height during the baking process and throughout the post baking stage.”       

By focusing on functionality, texture and structure, bakers can mitigate the costs and uncertainty associated with eggs and still achieve their ultimate formulation goals.

This article is an excerpt from the July 2020 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on egg replacers, click here.