Clean Label Cake2019-01-30T15:01:16-07:00

A clean label cake has fewer, recognizable ingredients.

Clean Label Cake

What is a Clean Label Cake?

A clean label cake is any type of cake that is labeled with fewer, recognizable ingredients. Artificial preservatives, flavors, colors, or sweeteners are not used when making clean label cakes, so alternatives must successfully substituted.1


Clean label cakes originated due to consumer demand that packaged foods have transparency in the ingredient declaration. Manufacturers have responded by creating cakes that do not contain artificial ingredients used in commercial production. The following terms are usually used for clean label cakes:

  • No artificial colors
  • No artificial flavors
  • No bleached flour
  • No bromated flour
  • No high fructose corn syrup
  • No preservatives
  • No aluminum-based phosphates


Cleaning up cake formulations consists of removing several functional ingredients. To be successful, the alternatives must help with batter aeration, cell structure, and finished product texture. Clean label cakes must have a recognizable ingredients that do not compromise customer expectations for quality.1


When creating a clean-label cake formula, these common ingredients must be substituted.

  • Emulsifiers add strength, texture, and emulsification. They are sodium (and calcium) stearoyl lactylate, ethoxylated monoglycerides, DATEM, sucrose esters, and polysorbates. Clean-label alternatives include enzymes, egg yolks, lecithin, and natural hydrocolloids like gums.2
  • Preservatives extend shelf life and control mold. They are propionates, sorbates, and benzoates. Clean-label alternatives include cultured whey or wheat flour, vinegar, raisin juice concentrate, sorbic acid, and live cultures.2
  • Stabilizers provide texture and structure. They are modified food starch and synthetic hydrocolloids. Clean-label alternatives include natural hydrocolloids like arabica.2
  • Aluminum-based phosphates are present in leavening agents such as sodium aluminum phosphate (SALP). Clean label alternatives are still being researched. Current studies recommendation one part sodium bicarbonate with .9 tartaric acid.3
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup is used as a low cost sweetener in baked goods. Clean label alternatives are:
    • Agave syrup
    • Invert sugar
    • Honey
    • Rice syrup
    • Maple syrup
    • Organic sugar

FDA regulation

There are no FDA guidelines or regulations for clean label.


  1. Penny, T. “The development of a clean label high ratio cake concentrate.” 2014 Annual Meeting Abstract – The development of a clean label high ratio cake concentrate, Horizon Milling,
  2. “Top 5 Production Problems When Switching to a Clean Label.” AIB International, 28 February 2017,
  3. Cauvain, S P., Baking problems solved. 2nd ed., Woodhead Publishing, 2001.pp. 130-131.

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