An egg replacement is used to mimic eggs in bakery and other food product formulations.

Egg Replacement


What is an Egg Replacement?

An egg replacement is an ingredient used to substitute for eggs in bakery and other food product formulations. Depending on the product’s egg content, eggs can be partially or totally replaced. Egg replacement in bakery and food products has been driven by many factors:1

  • Health concerns – allergies, cholesterol content, avian influenza outbreaks, etc.
  • Lifestyle – vegan diets
  • Economics – fluctuations in global egg supply and pricing
  • Allergen – it is considered a top allergen in the US, creating a challenge for food producers

These concerns have created a whole new food ingredients category dedicated to finding functional and cost-effective egg replacers. The feasibility of implementing partial or total substitution of eggs is judged primarily by the ingredients functional performance and quality of the finished food product as well as cost saving benefits.

Function

Designing ingredients as egg replacers requires a good understanding of eggs functionality in baked systems, which includes:1,2,3

  • Foaming: heat-setting and coagulation to create and stabilize the air cells in cakes
  • Emulsification: important for consistency and texture
  • Firmness and elasticity: essential for texture stability in baked products and pasta
  • Moistening: important for the eating quality of  cakes, cookies, and waffles.

Less important contributions include eggs’ impact on the color and flavor of cakes and other baked goods.

Nutrition

The replacement of eggs in a formulation provides consumers with better health options than health concerns associated with eggs consumption, such as cholesterol content. It can also be a nutritional alternative for people on special diet restrictions, such as vegans.

Commercial production

Commercially-available egg replacers are classified into three main categories:4

  • Protein concentrates and isolates: whey, soy, pea, wheat, bovine plasma, lentil
  • Polysaccharides (gums, hydrocolloids): xanthan gum, guar gum
  • Emulsifiers: lecithin

These ingredients can be used individually or in combination depending on the baked system type and desired level of egg replacement.

General functionality of ingredients used in egg replacement formulations:

Component Functionality Limitations
Proteins (concentrates/isolates)

  • Whey protein
  • Soy protein
  • Wheat proteins
  • Bovine plasma proteins
  • Good solubility, foaming, emulsifying ability, gelling, coagulation.
  • Good water binding capacity, emulsifying and gelling  properties.
  • Good viscoelastic and other rheological properties.
  • Good emulsifying ability across all pH range
  • Potential allergenicity especially the beta-lactoglobulin fraction.
  • Flavor issues (bitterness)
  • Not suitable for gluten-free formulations
  • Sourced from animal blood – not suitable for vegan diet
Polysaccharides / gums

  • Xanthan
  • Guar
  • Good solubility, stable in broad pH range, synergistic with other gums
  • Rapid hydration in cold water, thickening, good thermostability
  • Development of very high viscosity at low shear rates.
  • Tendency to aggregate and fall out of solution/dispersion
Emulsifiers

  • Lecithin (soy-based)
  • Efficient emulsification and binding properties
  • Religious restrictions

 

Application

Generally speaking, replacing eggs in cakes and other baked products which require high levels of eggs is quite challenging compared to low egg recipes such as cookies. Ideal egg replacers should have the ability to replace 100% of the egg content and produce  physical and sensory attributes equivalent to those in the original formula.

Following is an overview of the most successful attempts to replace eggs in bakery products and which include composites rather than individual ingredients:

  • Composite blends of soy protein isolates, corn starch and xanthan gum in cakes performed very similar to those made with whole eggs at 100% replacement level.5
  • A mixture of soybean proteins and an emulsifier have been reported to be a good option for replacing eggs in yellow cake.6
  • At 50% egg replacement level in yellow cakes, a composite of whey protein isolate/wheat starch/guar gum performed very similar to 100% egg formulation. Subsequent Quantitative Descriptive Analysis (QDA) showed that a composite of xanthan gum/whey protein/wheat starch showed the highest consumer acceptability especially for main attributes such as crust and crumb color, springiness, moistness, firmness and others.7
  • Spray-dried bovine plasma was also claimed to be a good replacement to egg whites in layer cake as evidenced in the comparable cake volume to that made with 100% dried egg whites. Despite the inferior qualities such as lack of layer cake symmetry and shrinkage compared to control, subjective taste tests showed that cakes made with bovine plasma and control were liked equally.8
  • Substitution of whole eggs by wheat protein/gum combinations in yellow cake showed better performance at 50% replacement levels compared to 100%. 9
  • Both soy lecithin and soy milk in a cake formulation performed very well. The study concluded that using this ingredient combination can completely replace egg.10

FDA regulations

GRN No. 121 and GRN No. 37 indicates xanthan gum and whey protein isolate are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) when used in food.11

GRN No. 633 indicates whey protein is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) when used as an emulsifier or stabilizer in food or as a protein source.12

GRN No.534 indicates hydrogenated lecithin from soy when used as an ingredient in food as long as it adheres to good manufacturing practices.13

References

  1. Ratnayake, Wajira S., Bhimalingeswarappa Geera, and Dana A. Rybak. “Effects Of Egg And Egg Replacers On Yellow Cake Product Quality.” Journal of Food Processing and Preservation 36.1 (2012): 21-29.
  2. Feeney, R.E. “Egg Proteins”. In Symposium on Foods: Proteins and their reactions. H.W. Schultz, H.W., and Angelmiers, A.F., editors. Avi Publishing Co., Westport, CT (1964)
  3. Ashwini, A., R. Jyotsna, and D. Indrani. “Effect of hydrocolloids and emulsifiers on the rheological, microstructural and quality characteristics of eggless cake.” Food Hydrocolloids 23.3 (2009): 700-707.
  4. Julianti, E., Rusmarilin, H., Yusriani, R.E. Effect of gluten-free composite flour and egg replacer on physicochemical and sensory properties of cakes. Int. Food Res. J. 2016, 23, 6: 2413-1418.
  5. Lin, M., Yang, H., Tay, S.H. and Li, H. Replacement of eggs with soybean protein isolates and polysaccharides to prepare yellow cakes suitable for vegetarians. Food Chem. 2017, DOI:10.1016/j.foodchem.2017.02.132
  6. Kohrs,, D., Herald, T.J., Aramouni, F.M. and Abughoush, M. evaluation of egg replacers in a yellow cake system. Emr. J. Food Agric.  2010,, 22, 5: 340-352
  7. Lee, C.C., Love, J.A. and Johnson, L.A.  sensory and physical properties of cakes with bovine plasma products substituted for eggs. Cereal Chem. 1993, 70: 18-21.
  8. Arozarena, Iñigo, Hugo Bertholo, José Empis, Andrea Bunger, and Isabel Sousa. “Study of the Total Replacement of Egg by White Lupine Protein, Emulsifiers and Xanthan Gum in Yellow Cakes.” European Food Research and Technology 213.4-5 (2001): 312-16.
  9. Hedayati, Sara, and Mostafa Mazaheri Tehrani. “Effect of total replacement of egg by soymilk and lecithin on physical properties of batter and cake.” Food Science & Nutrition 6.4 (2018): 1154-1161.
  10. Hussain, S. S. Abdul. “Studying the Possibility of Preparing An Egg-Free Or Egg-Less Cake.” International Journal of Engineering and Technology, vol. 1, no. 4, 2009, pp. 324–329., doi:10.7763/ijet.2009.v1.65.
  11. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “GRAS Notices” Accessdata.fda.gov, https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/fdcc/?set=GRASNotices&id=121&sort=GRN_No&order=DESC&startrow=1&type=basic&search=xanthan%20gum Accessed on August 24 2018.
  12. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “GRAS Notices” Accessdata.fda.gov, https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/fdcc/?set=GRASNotices&id=633&sort=GRN_No&order=DESC&startrow=1&type=basic&search=whey%20protein Accessed on August 24 2018.
  13. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “GRAS Notices” Accessdata.fda.gov, https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/fdcc/?set=GRASNotices&id=534&sort=GRN_No&order=DESC&startrow=1&type=basic&search=lecithin Accessed on August 24 2018.