Egg prices in Europe have taken a sharp upward turn in response to the EU welfare of laying hens directive, enforced since January this year. According to DEFRA, the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, prices rose by 50% for intensively reared eggs and 21% for free-range eggs between August 2011 and August 2012.
The consequence for us at Nutrition & Biosciences is a growing number of inquiries from industrial bakeries keen to replace the egg in their cake formulations with a less expensive alternative.
In an effort to meet these demands, we have taken a new look at a natural vegetable protein in our portfolio, which we have typically used for texture and emulsification in sauces and mayonnaise. Derived from carob, otherwise known as locust beans, the ingredient contains 48% protein, making it suitable for protein-enriched foods.
Promising first tests
Our initial tests have focused on replacing 30-50% of the egg in high-ratio cakes, such as angel cake, with 1% of our vegetable protein and sufficient water to achieve the correct cake batter viscosity.
Of particular interest was whether the protein’s whipping capabilities could provide the stable aeration required for securing the desired volume and crumb structure.
Findings so far point in a positive direction. Using the vegetable protein for partial egg replacement, we have observed good batter aeration and strong emulsification with even ingredient distribution. The final baked cake is moist and pleasant to eat.
The final hurdle
We are now working to solve the only issue revealed by our tests – an excessive softness that results in a fragile crumb. Our expectation is that this can be solved using one of the hydrocolloids already widely used in cake formulations.
Further tests will be take place in the coming weeks. Once a fully functional egg replacement solution is in place, we plan to broaden our focus area to include sponge cakes.