Eggs may impart richer flavor and softer texture to artisan breads and are a challenge to replace in these formulations.
First came the egg

Traditionally formulated baked foods, especially sweet goods, rely on eggs for a long list of sensory attributes. This has been shown in an extensive body of research recently conducted by independent third-party firm CuliNex, L.L.C.

The research details both the analytical and slightly more subjective sensory results of experiments comparing eggs with egg replacers in a variety of applications. Most, if not all, of the applications tested relied on the functionality of eggs or egg replacers for appearance, texture, mouthfeel and taste. Certain pie fillings, for example, need eggs or egg replacers with similar functionality for optimal eating quality. The changes to pie fillings with reduced egg content were noticeable, according to the researchers.

Angel food cake, eggs
Angel food cake obtains its color, rise, texture and flavor from eggs.

Angel food cake is another example. This highly aerated product obtains its color, rise, texture and flavor from eggs. When they are removed or replaced in angel food cake, the batter’s specific gravity, appearance, height and flavor are negatively affected, according to the study. 

CuliNex tested baked goods, including sponge cake, yellow batter cake, muffins, sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, cheesecake, brownies, sweet dough and frozen waffles, all of which rely on eggs for similar characteristics.

Elisa Maloberti, director of egg product marketing for the American Egg Board, said some types of applications rely more on eggs than others.

“When a product relies upon a higher percentage of eggs for its functional and organoleptic characteristics, it will suffer a greater impact when eggs are removed,” she said.

Cheesecake, eggs
Cheesecake's standard of reliance is 12.5% whole eggs.

In cheesecake, for example, the standard is 12.5% whole eggs, Ms. Maloberti said. For sugar cookies, it’s about 3.8%.

“When the research team tested eggs versus various replacement products in cheesecake, they reported that, ‘except for water activity, all areas of cake quality were negatively affected, especially flavor and texture.’”

When eggs were replaced or removed in sugar cookies, the difference was recorded as “slight but noticeable,” the study found. Areas most negatively affected in sugar cookies included the color/appearance, aroma, flavor and texture.

“Consistently throughout most of the study, researchers found that tasters unanimously preferred the control, or gold standard formula made with eggs, to the test formulas,” Ms. Maloberti said.

Suagr cookies, eggs
Areas most negatively affected in sugar cookies when removing eggs includes the color/appearance, aroma, flavor and texture.

Some bakers use eggs in artisan and specialty bread formulas, as they contribute to a richer flavor and softer texture. Use is, however, usually cost-prohibitive due to price fluctuations in standard white pan bread and buns.

Some of the physical functions eggs perform in baked goods are aeration, binding, emulsifying and dough strengthening. They also assist with maintaining moistness and, thereby, extending shelf life. Depending on the egg ingredient used, color and flavor also may be influenced. When identifying a replacer, it is critical to know what functions the ingredient must perform.