Vegetarianism – Bakeries’ latest challenge
Vegetarianism is a globally growing consumer trend that is here to stay. It is easy to confuse Vegetarianism with Veganism or No-Meat dietary style however they are different. Vegetarianism means a diet consisting purely of plant sourced foods and dairy foods. It excludes foods like meats, poultry, sea food or any product derived from them or an animal’s(including insect’s) body (except Dairy).
Some geographies like the Indian sub-continent which a significant chunk of the local population is Vegetarian have adapted baking techniques to suit this market requirement however in the global bakery market where egg still plays a major role, it is quite a daunting task to bake vegetarian products that would be similar in quality to traditionally baked products.
It is important for the baking industry to cater to this growing dietary trend by providing vegetarian options in all their products, whether they be pre-mixes or ready to eat baked foods. Extensive research has been carried out to formulate recipes using suitable substitutes for non-vegetarian ingredients like eggs and animal fats.
It is important to note that the substitute which is chosen must also serve the functional purpose of the ingredient without compromising on taste or texture of the final baked product. The egg is perhaps the most critical non-vegetarian ingredient that needs substitution and it is important to note that both the egg white and egg yolk play multiple different roles in baking and each of their specific properties needs to be substituted by separate ingredients.
Egg white replacers have been found in aquafaba, which is basically the juice that forms when beans(legumes) are cooked. It has been observed that the juice from white beans like chickpeas or garbanzo and soy does not impart a peculiar beany taste and has therefore worked out to be a good substitute for the egg white in Vegetarian confectionery although not a perfect match. This juice is obtained by cooking dried beans upon which the colour, flavour and nutrients of the beans gets extracted into the water giving rise to a foamy solution which has the potential to act as a water soluble as well as fat soluble liquid allowing it to play the role of an emulsifier and a foam stabilizer. The carbohydrate content or starch in aquafaba solution helps to provide the required texture and mouthfeel and specifically cold aquafaba is used as a whipped egg white replacer as the starch in the solution coagulates on cooling making its high viscosity ideal for beating.
Egg yolks are mainly used for the presence of lecithin, an emulsifier. It has been seen that lecithin derived from soy is the closest alternative to the egg yolk and is widely used in recipes as its substitute. Since eggs are an integral part of baking, it is of utmost importance that its substitutes are able to replicate its functionality along with the taste and texture it imparts to the final baked product. While these currently used vegetarian alternatives have come close to achieving this, research is still on to find the ideal replacement.
Animal fats is another ingredient that requires substitution however replacing this is easy and as this can be done by using vegetable oils that best resembles animal fats without adversely affecting the taste and texture of the final baked product.
Apart from replacing key non-vegetarian ingredients, it is also critical to make sure that any other ingredient used is not derived from an animal source or makes use of any animal derived products (other than dairy) in the process of its manufacture. For example, while yeast is vegetarian, sometimes cow bone filter is used in the processing of the molasses used in their growth media and this makes yeast non vegetarian because of the method by which it is manufactured. Similarly, even though maple syrup is vegetarian, sometimes it is treated with animal(cow or pig) fat as a defoaming agent, excluding it from the list of foods that can be certified as being vegetarian.
Vegetarianism is now a dietary lifestyle that many are adopting even in Europe and the Western countries and it is need of the hour for bakeries to re-formulate their recipes to cater to the growing demands of this section of society. This ardent process of selecting vegetarian ingredients has proven to be fruitful as there are a considerable percentage of buyers who are willing to pay an extra buck for their dietary preferences. While many bakers have started realising the importance of having vegetarian alternative products, there is still a substantially large number of bakers who have yet to joined the vegetarian revolution.
We at SwissBake® understand and realise this growing need of consumers and have therefore curated a large range of our bakery offerings to suit the dietary trends of this market. We also work closely with bakers to customize their solutions to suit the varied demands of their local consumers
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