While consumers are increasingly seeking out free-from bakery, the challenge for bakers is to create products that replicate the taste and texture of a regular bakery items. KaTech takes a closer look at functional ingredients to help them achieve that.

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Free-from cakes have been on the market for a while, giving people with allergies the possibility to enjoy their favourite baked goods without taking any risks. In particular, gluten-free products have had an impact on the market, as more and more people try to cut gluten from their diet. Vegan is another trend in the free-from sector that has had a growing importance during recent years.

For bakery manufacturers, these trends can be interesting to diversify product offerings or specialise. As the market has seen many new launches in this area, it is crucial for bakeries to develop products that excite consumers in order to be successful.

As these trends lead to the need to replace key ingredients that play an important role during the baking process, new ingredients with similar functionalities are required.

Challenges in vegan cake products


The main concern consumers have with vegan food is the taste and texture1. So, it is critical for bakery manufacturers to get it right from the start, by developing a batter that will turn out great in the end. However, there are several challenges to face, when developing vegan cake products.

Removing egg – the structure provider in cake

The biggest challenge in making vegan cakes is to overcome the loss of functionality of eggs. Egg provides a stable emulsion, structure, stability, texture and tolerance for deviations in the product. Finding ingredients that can provide all of these functionalities, while also meeting the market’s requirements for clean labelling, is a major challenge that limits the options. The solution is a combination of starch and fibres to help build the structure for the baked goods and strengthen them with the help of emulsifiers.

The appearance of vegan cakes – making them more attractive

For consumers, cake that has a nice browning on the surface is the most appetising, as it looks perfectly done – not underbaked and dense or overbaked and dry. This browning effect comes from the ‘Maillard reaction’, where proteins and sugars react to the heat during the baking process. But because plant-based products contain different proteins, which have a reduced browning effect, the products often look pale, making them less attractive to the consumer.

Balancing the amount of protein in the recipe can help to improve the appearance of vegan baked goods, making them look just as tasty as the standard recipe equivalent.

Challenges with gluten-free cake products

Gluten free

Gluten is the protein in wheat that some people are sensitive to. However, it plays many important roles in cakes. As it forms longer molecule chains during the manufacturing process, it helps to give structure and elasticity to the baked product so that it rises well, is soft to eat and does not dry out so quickly.

Rising of the gluten-free cake – keeping the structure

Without gluten, this known structure and elasticity is missing. This means that although the batter rises during baking, it does not have the same strength. As a result, ingredients are necessary to help build such a structure that will stay during the baking process. Egg has often been used in this process, as it gives improved structure. Unfortunately, there are sometimes reasons why egg cannot be used. If a product is a combination of vegan and gluten-free, for example, egg would not be accepted in the recipe. In that case, plant-based proteins in combination with fibres and starches can be used to help in building the cake’s structural integrity. To ensure that the product does not get an off-flavour from the plant-based protein, the market must be researched for the right product with reduced flavour impact, or the baked product should be offered in a variation that can mask the off-flavour.

Production issues with gluten-free cakes

Additionally, gluten is important in industrial cake production, as it provides mixing tolerance during production. Producing gluten-free products can mean that the batter becomes too thin, which can make depositing difficult.

The addition of fibres and starches, which are resistant to the manufacturing process, helps the batter to flow better and therefore makes it easier to produce gluten-free cakes industrially.

Keeping moisture – making the cake soft to eat

As gluten can help to absorb and retain moisture in the product, another main problem with gluten-free cake is its tendency to dry out quickly, which leaves a disappointing eating sensation for the consumer.

By adding functional starch and hydrocolloids with the ability to bind moisture, gluten-free cake can lose its dryness and becomes soft and pleasant to eat.

An easier way to develop vegan or gluten-free cake

Today, food manufacturers not only have to face the challenge of developing appealing products, but also the constant changes in the market. Prices for ingredients are rising dramatically, adding to the pressure on manufacturers to remain competitive.

As developing high-quality gluten-free and/or vegan bakery products can be daunting for some bakery manufacturers, KaTech has developed ingredient systems that allow them to easily create enjoyable cakes at a lower cost than with baking mixes.

The company’s ingredient systems are low-dose ingredient systems, designed to provide the key functional ingredients needed to produce baked goods without compromising on quality and performance.

Because baking mixes contain bulk ingredients such as sugar or flour at a premium, while ingredients prices increase, bakery manufacturers can save money by replacing baking mixes with KaTech’s ingredient systems – those bulk ingredients can be purchased at a significantly lower price and simply added to its concentrated ingredient solution, which reduces the overall cost of the recipe.

All of KaTech’s ingredient systems are tailored to its customers’ processes and product requirements to ensure that production runs smoothly and the product meets consumer demands.

Since health is an important factor in ‘free from’ products, one of the company’s priorities is to clean up ingredient lists as much as possible.

Sugar reduction in cakes – combining sweetener and textural ingredients

Sugar free

Sugar has been in the food industry’s spotlight for some time. In addition, national governments have enacted food labelling regulations to reduce sugar content in products. The reasons behind are simple: sugar is a major contributor to obesity, which in turn can lead to serious diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even cancer.

For products like cakes, which traditionally contain a lot of sugar, reducing the sugar content can have a big impact on the product. Not only does the taste change, but the appearance, eating sensation and shelf life can also be affected.

The reason for this is that sugar not only adds sweetness to the cake, but also keeps in moisture, so that the product does not dry out over time.

Therefore, it is important to use sweeteners in combination with textural ingredients that help replicate the functions of sugar. By using sweeteners, the sugar content in cakes can be reduced by up to 30%. Negative effects such as cake dryness, reduced browning or shortened shelf life can be improved by textural ingredients that help to reduce water activity in the product. Moisture is retained in the cake and the result is a delicious, sweet cake that is soft and moist to eat.

To view a cake comparison, see the video below:

If you would like to increase your product range to vegan, gluten-free or sugar reduced cake products or are looking for ways to reduce production costs of vegan, gluten-free or reduced sugar products by using our ingredient systems, contact with KaTech through the website www.katech-solutions.com or email: scratchplus@katech-solutions.com.

1 A healthier way to indulge, Innova Market Insights, May 2022