For many bakery applications, creating an entirely plant-based, vegan-friendly formulation is complicated by the challenge of replacing eggs—which provide structure, emulsification, flavor and texture.
Substituting eggs with plant-based ingredients has been an ongoing challenge in many categories of bakery products and has implications from processing to final product attributes. Fortunately, innovations in plant protein ingredients have revolutionized formulators’ abilities.
One useful new ingredient for the formulator’s toolbox is derived from canola, and it is poised to gain traction for its functional benefits, including its ability to replicate the functionality of eggs. The specific proteins uniquely abundant in canola are what make it such a suitable replacement.
Primarily grown as an oilseed crop, canola features 90% protein content, boosting the nutritive profile of plant-based applications. Each of the two major proteins found in canola, cruciferin and napin, have very distinctive functionalities, and each can emulate some of the functionalities of yolks and whites in eggs. Isolating these proteins has proven to be an effective egg replacement in a diverse range of food and beverage applications.
Eggs serve many purposes in batter-based products, including nucleation or aeration, binding and gelation; they influence texture, flavor, color and aroma. In products like cakes and muffins, achieving a uniform crumb structure is difficult without eggs, due to their ability to properly aerate the batter prior to baking. This in turn affects the crumb and texture of many applications. Napin, the albumin found in canola protein, shares egg albumen’s unique ability to whip and incorporate a large amount of air into food formulations. And when combined with the gelation functionality of cruciferin, it can set into a stable crumb. Canola protein can be used to replace whole fresh or dried egg whites in batter mixes to achieve a truly plant-based product, without sacrificing taste and texture.
Applications: Cakes, brownies, pancakes, muffins
To read this article in its entirety—including more on the egg-free possibilities spanning gluten-free, meringues, confections, sports nutrition and meat alternatives, download the “Power to the plants: Capitalizing on the plant-based momentum” digital magazine. The full piece is called “A tough egg to crack.”
Jeff Casper has 20 years of experience in product and ingredient development and commercialization. His experience has spanned from grain-based food and beverage to sweeteners, fats and oils, and dairy. As the director of research and applications at Merit Functional Foods, Casper helps formulators overcome common application challenges, using the company’s lines of non-GMO canola proteins and high-purity pea proteins.