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Enzyme system offers extended shelf life for cakes

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 22-Jul-2009

Caravan Ingredients has developed a new enzyme-based ingredient system which it claims can extend the shelf life of cakes, even those with a low fat content which tend to stale faster.

The short shelf life of many cakes causes problems for bakers in that they cannot transport their products over long distances or build stocks without freezing them. This has implications in terms of energy costs, and manufacturers need to bake regularly in relatively small batches to ensure that cakes remain fresh.

Caravan’s Cakesoft ingredient system would help solve these issues, producing cakes that have a soft, moist texture while remaining resilient for several weeks, the company said.

Cakesoft would appear on product labels as wheat flour, salt, sodium bicarbonate and enzymes, although Caravan would not reveal the exact nature of its enzymes due to intellectual property concerns.

Kathy Sargent, scientist two of the bakery ingredients innovation center at Caravan, told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “It is a functional enzyme system that can be used in various types of cakes. They will taste much fresher later in the shelf life…Manufacturers will have a longer period of time when the products can be distributed, which means less stale returns, and guarantees flexibility in their distribution. They could run longer runs, which is more efficient.”

The enzyme ingredient system comes as a powder which is added in with other bulk ingredients and Sargent said there is no need for complicated reformulation.

“It has a low usage level of one to three percent on flour weight,” she said. “Manufacturers can do it themselves but we are always happy to offer assistance with reformulation if they need it.”

In addition to cake manufacturers’ storage, distribution and wastage concerns, the issue of shelf life is particularly problematic for the end retailer.

“A lot of customers freeze cakes,” said Sargent. “In a grocery store the longer shelf life means they could use refrigeration instead, or even store cakes at room temperature, which means it gives the potential for more energy savings.”

She added that as well as cakes and muffins, Caravan is also exploring the ingredient’s suitability for use in donuts.

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