Icings rely heavily on their shortenings and the air incorporated in the mixing bowl for their structure, texture and mouthfeel. The shortening will determine whether an icing is creamy, light and fluffy or gritty and hard. Using the proper shortening will pay dividends even in process, storage and display.

“Without the right shortening, bakers won’t be able to hold the right amount of water and sugar or aerate the icing properly,” Mr. Flider said. “If you need to freeze the icing, you don’t want it to break or have the sugar come out. You don’t want the color to start to run.”

The decision-making process on the type of fat and emulsifier starts with knowing the end goals for the product. This includes things like nutrition, branding, desired eating characteristics and the retail channel the finished product will go through. While nutritional considerations often look at the level of saturated fat, this type of fat is critical for providing the solids needed to achieve the right eating qualities in an icing. This is the reason why liquid oils on their own are not the best choice for this application. Retail channel type is also a key consideration.

“Products that are prepared in store and consumed immediately don’t require the same temperature tolerance and robustness as products that are manufactured, frozen, stored and shipped to a destination where they finally get prepared for consumption,” said John Satumba, PhD, global bakery technical lead and regional R&D director for North America, global edible oil solutions, Cargill.

At the end of the day, cake formulating relies on the shortening and emulsifiers to successfully cream and aerate the batters and icings that make them so delicious. Knowing the finished product’s target — texture and crumb structure, nutritional profile, processing needs — can help bakers work backwards with suppliers to find the custom shortening solution for their products.

This article is an excerpt from the April 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Fats & Oils, click here.