Is it possible to cut the sugar in a favorite cake or cookie without cutting down on indulgence? Our test concepts produce promising results.
By Jan Charles Hansen, principal application specialist, Nutrition & Biosciences
A traditional preference for sweet indulgences can be a stone in the road for calorie reduction in the growth markets of Africa and the Middle East, where obesity is a growing problem. In Egypt, Saudi Arabia and South Africa, for example, the World Obesity Federation reports that around a third to half of the population is obese.
At Nutrition & Biosciences, we’ve been looking at ways to give consumers the indulgent sweet bakery products they prefer with less sugar in the recipes.
First, it’s important to understand what sugar actually adds to bakery products such as cakes and cookies apart from a sweet taste. Sugar plays, in fact, a number of roles as a bulking agent, texturizer and an anti-staling humectant. It’s also necessary to obtain the so-called Maillard reaction, which causes browning during baking.
As many food manufacturers have found over the years, sugar reduction can be a complicated process – and the challenges vary depending on the type of product you want to make.
Three distinctive recipes
In our sweet bakery snack project, we put three very different recipes to the test –a chocolate chip cookie, a chocolate muffin with caramel filling and a chewy chocolate cake similar to a brownie. Our goal was to reduce the content of added sugar by 30-40% in each one.
For some time now, one of our favorite sugar-replacing ingredients has been the soluble dietary fiber polydextrose, which can replace sugar one-to-one. Polydextrose contributes to a balanced sweet taste, contains 1kcal per gram compared to the 4kcal per gram of sugar and, like sugar, is subject to the Maillard reaction when heated.
Clinical studies have further shown that the fiber can support weight management by delaying the onset of hunger and contributing to a stable blood sugar.
In application trials with our chocolate chip cookie concept, we could see that sugar replacement with polydextrose had no negative effect on texture. Crispness was even improved.
The water-binding properties of polydextrose had the opposite effect in the chocolate muffin concept. This ensured comparable softness to a standard muffin. In the chewy chocolate cake, the chewiness normally associated with a high sugar content was also maintained.
A flexible fiber
Although polydextrose is much less sweeter than sugar, our results demonstrate that it offers similar flexibility as a partial sugar replacer in sweet bakery recipes. Added to that is the opportunity to include a fiber claim on the packaging.
If you’re interested in learning more about sugar replacement in general or about our test concepts in particular, get in touch. I’ll be happy to share our knowledge.