5 tips for baking with natural flavors.

Food products have been improved by added flavors since before the 18th century. They enhance or impart a pleasing taste that persists throughout the product’s shelf-life. However, flavor compounds are highly volatile, especially when baking with natural flavors. So treating them properly is key to extracting a full and lasting impact.

Flavors used in food

Regardless of origin, the main molecules that elicit the subjective experience of what we know as flavor tend to be the same as those found in nature. For example, the compound vanillin is found in both artificial and natural extracts of vanilla flavoring. It is mainly responsible for what we know as ‘vanilla.’ Minute levels of other compounds found in natural flavors contribute to a more complex and authentic flavor.

  • Vanillin (Vanilla)
  • Diacetyl (Butter)
  • Limonene (Lemon)
  • Isoamyl Acetate (Banana)
  • Methional (Potato Chips)

Natural flavors

Natural flavors are food additives that produce desirable tastes and aromas to food products. They are used in various baked goods and beverages to enhance or impart a desirable sensory experience. Natural flavors are available in several forms:

  • Oil-based
  • Water-based
  • Alcohol-based
  • Powder

Limitations of natural flavors:

  • Elevated Baking Temperature: Usually, the baking temperatures are significantly high. As the flavor molecules are volatile, they easily vaporize at these temperatures. The minutest concentration of metal ions catalyzes oxidants’ production from oxygen. The raised temperature stimulates the reaction following in flavor compound damage and producing off-flavors.
  • Chemical Reactions: During baking, a Maillard reaction takes place. The flavor molecules, sugars, and amino acids (proteins building blocks) react with each other inside the dough and generate unwanted aromas. Additionally, dough conditioners, such as L-cysteine or potassium bromate, also react to flavor molecules.
  • Dough Components: Components such as gluten proteins, starches, and fibers, physically bind to the flavor molecules and inhibit their release.

Usage Tips:

  1. Increasing flavor concentrations in the recipe can make up for the flavor losses. It is important to note that higher usage levels can harm dough rheology.
  2. Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) addition chelates the metal ions. It limits oxidizing species formation that damages flavors or forms off-flavors.
  3. In plated flavors, the flavor is solubilized in an organic solvent. The solvent has a low flash point, combined with a plating agent like salt, starch, etc. The solvent diffuses to leave the flavors adhered to the solid carrier.
  4. Spray-dried/encapsulated flavors are a standard solution for natural flavors in baking. The flavors are mixed with a carrier and solvent (i.e., water) and sprayed into heated air (400° F or more) to produce a flavor-enriched powder. Encapsulated flavors are often coated with wax or gums.
  5. Density, size, morphology, and flavor uniformity in the starch matrix are highly dependent on the technology used to create them.

Learn more about natural flavors in baking and solutions in our free technical paper. Download it here.