Emulsifiers: keeping it all together

Oil and water mixing and forming bubbles and droplets

Emulsifiers are the key for oil and water to work together.

It’s mixing 101: oil and water don’t mix. Thankfully, we have emulsifiers to stabilize surface tension AND to serve as a dough conditioner as an added bonus. Emulsifiers improve texture and shelf life, and help with crumb and color, among other things.

Optimizing the HLB

Different variations of emulsifiers have a different hydrophilic-lipophilic balance (HLB), or the ratio of their polar and nonpolar ends. The scale runs from 0 to 20, which would be an entirely hydrophilic substance.Here’s a quick rundown of the variations:

Lecithin: HLB 8-10; forms a protein complex, once during mixing and later during baking.

Sodium stearoyl lactylate and calcium stearoyl lactylate (SSL and CSL): HLB 21 and 10, respectively; strengthen dough performance, soften crumb and slow staling.

Ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides (EMG): HLB 9-20; dough-strengthening qualities.

Polysorbates (PS): HLB 14-16; very surface-active.

Succinylated monoglycerides (SMG):HLB 5.3; interact with the flour proteins as an effective dough conditioner.

Diacetyl tartaric acid esters of monoglycerides (DATEM): HLB 9.2; excellent handling properties.

Mono- and diglycerides: HLB 2.8-3.5; assist with fat and oil dispersion in batter systems.

Read more about these emulsifiers and how they work in dough and batter here!


About the Author:

Lin Carson, PhD
Dr. Lin Carson’s love affair with baking started over 25 years ago when she earned her BSc degree in Food Science & Technology at the Ohio State University. She went on to earn her MSc then PhD from the Department of Grain Science at Kansas State University. Seeing that technical information was not freely shared in the baking industry, Dr. Lin decided to launch BAKERpedia to cover this gap. Today, as the world’s only FREE and comprehensive online technical resource for the commercial baking industry, BAKERpedia is used by over half a million commercial bakers, ingredient sellers, equipment suppliers and baking entrepreneurs annually. You can catch Dr. Lin regularly on the BAKED In Science podcast solving baking problems. For more information on Dr. Lin, subscribe to her "Ask Dr. Lin" YouTube Channel, or follow her on LinkedIn.

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