Whole eggs are known for providing more than 20 functions to baked goods. They influence overall appearance, flavor and richness as well as texture, batter quality and water activity. Egg products come in dry, frozen and liquid bulk formats. They can be simply whole eggs to just the whites or the yolks. There are also performance-enhanced versions.
Research supported by the American Egg Board and conducted by CuliNex examined typical baking applications made with egg products vs. those made without eggs.
“The areas of cookie quality most negatively affected when eggs are removed are color/appearance, aroma, flavor and texture,” said Bradd Bosley, director of innovation, American Egg Board. “Eggs are also an integral ingredient in most cakes. They build structure, which is the primary function in yellow batter cake. They also provide leavening, binding, aeration and contribute to texture, flavor, color and aroma.”
In addition to all those functions, eggs give sponge cakes a sweet, eggy baked aroma and flavor. With angel food cake, egg whites are critical to the characteristic airy structure that is tender in the mouth with a fluffy texture and neutral sweet baked flavor.
“Without eggs, angel food cake batter is four times more dense and much lower in viscosity,” Mr. Bosley said. “This results in a squat, firm, chewy, pasty-tasting, gel-like substance rather than the expected angel food texture and mouthfeel.”
In order to replace eggs in a formulation, bakers must use many different ingredients for the same functionality, which results in a longer ingredient label.
“In using real eggs in a recipe, your recipe has the opportunity to be made and enjoyed the way it was originally intended to be made,” said Kerry Robb, marketing manager, NestFresh. “When you start with quality ingredients, you’re more likely to get a finished recipe that is also quality.”
Egg product suppliers offer ingredients designed for enhanced performance in some applications, which helps bakers manage cost without sacrificing functionality.
“Egg whites, for example, are available as standard, high whip — sometimes called angel whites — and high-gel,” Mr. Bosley said. “Each contributes a different functionality to various applications. Standard egg whites would be appropriate for frittata bites, while high whip would be appropriate for meringue applications, and high gel would work best in protein bars.”
When deciding on an egg format, bakers should consider not only the functionality of the eggs, but also their budget and processing and storage capabilities.
“Different ingredients have different purposes, so they can be used in a number of ways,” Ms. Robb said. “Based on a customer’s budget and particular needs, the format of eggs we provide them could change to bring ease and convenience. We customize products to meet their business challenges.”
The egg category is experiencing the tug that comes from the demand for more transparency, according to Ms. Robb. This includes how the hens are raised and leads to claims bakers can make regarding specialty egg ingredient selection.
About 30% of all egg production is from hens laying specialty eggs, according to United Egg Producers. This has doubled since 2016.
“All trend lines point toward increased demand in specialty eggs,” said Karen Van Prooyen, marketing director, Dutch Farms. “We have partnerships with local, small family farms that raise hens who are free to roam and nest, who allow outdoor access and some who allow hens to forage for wild plants and food.”
This sustainability angle offers another layer to the high-quality halo eggs contribute to baked goods.
“It’s important for industry leaders to amplify the trends that are focused on making higher quality food products that are better for the animals and the planet,” said Megan Patterson, marketing communication manager, Fonterra Americas.
Dairy and egg ingredients offer bakers the opportunity to provide quality, nutritious baked goods with ingredients consumers recognize, even with their storage and cost limitations. With a little extra help and understanding, bakers can formulate to make these ingredients work for their products and process.