Research presented during a poster session at the annual meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists in Chicago revealed eggs have a positive impact on the quality of gluten-free bread. A team of Kansas State University researchers led by Fadi Aramouni, Ph.D., found that eggs showed a distinct impact on bread roll quality, increasing volume and cell elongation. “Before beginning our research three years ago, we found despite the rapidly expanding retail market for gluten-free products, many of the gluten-free offerings were of mediocre quality,” explained Aramouni. “As a result we wanted to see if we could improve gluten-free bread quality to help celiac sufferers and those who choose to eat gluten-free.”
The taste, volume, color, moisture and other characteristics—common to conventional wheat bread—are often lacking in gluten-free bread products. The team knew if they could positively impact these characteristics, they would improve gluten-free bread quality. Gluten forms a protein matrix that gives bread volume and texture, so the idea was to replace the gluten with an ingredient that could provide structure to the bread. “Eggs—also a protein source—are known for their foaming ability,” said Aramouni. “Using eggs as part of a gluten-free bread roll formulation, we were able to increase volume, and improve color and texture.” The addition of eggs made the texture softer and helped maintain moisture and retard staling—which is important to maintain shelf life. Another common shortcoming of gluten-free bread is quick staling.
But according to Aramouni, improving the functional aspects of gluten-free bread was just a step toward consumer acceptability. “You can publish all the research you want, but if the consumer will not buy it, a product will not make it on the shelf.” Among the general population, consumers found the gluten-free product formulated with eggs highly acceptable and also indicated a willingness to buy it. As might be expected, celiac consumer acceptance and purchase rankings were even higher. “Inclusion of eggs definitely makes a critical difference in acceptability of gluten-free breads. It’s the make or break for acceptability.”
While eggs were a part of the improved gluten-free formula, honey, sunflower seeds and sorghum flour were too. All these ingredients together helped to make a good tasting, good quality gluten-free bread. Going forward Aramouni feels the team’s research could have a big impact on development of gluten-free baked goods, as the positive results seen in the gluten-free roll formula with eggs could also be achieved in other similar baked good applications. The team hopes to have their final research published in the Journal of Food Science.