Issue 41

Why a high quality protein makes a great cake

Microscope images show the benefits of an Arla Foods Ingredients solution

If you ever made what looked like a fantastic cake only to see it collapse a short time after baking, a microscopy technique used by Arla Foods Ingredients can show the reason why. Creating images of the microstructure, confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) visualises the protein and fat phases. This makes it possible to differentiate between a batter with good emulsion stability and one without - a stable emulsion providing the necessary crumb strength that keeps cakes in shape.

In the Arla Foods Ingredients’ R&D labs, CLSM analysis has been used to document the positive effect of Nutrilac® Natural Improvers in a cake batter emulsion. ”The pictures speak louder than words”, says senior scientist Marie Tholstrup Sejersen. ”The smaller fat globules – highlighted as red spots on CLSM images – and the higher protein load – with protein coloured green – show that emulsion stability is improved using the Nutrilac® solution compared to that of a standard batter made with egg powder,” she explains. For bakers, that illustrates an opportunity to improve cake quality and reduce processing waste.

Microstructure made easy
One of many analysis techniques used by Arla Foods Ingredients, CLSM can also reveal the microstructure behind a creamy, low-fat ice cream; a stable yoghurt that resists whey separation over time; and an appealing processed cheese spread with a low sodium content. “CLSM makes it easy to talk about microstructure. Today, our application specialists use these images a lot when explaining the benefits of our protein ingredients,” Sejersen says. “In our R&D, it assists us in optimising the size and shape of large whey protein aggregates and gives us a good understanding of why they work differently in various applications. We can even take 3D pictures to visualise size and homogeneity.

Latest research
Arla Foods Ingredients has recently begun working with Copenhagen University as part of the ProApp (Protein in Applications) research project to investigate the difference between whey and casein proteins in applications such as yoghurt. Again, CLSM plays an important role.