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Prune puree may be effective fat replacer in cakes

By Jane Byrne , 20-Sep-2010

Related topics: Science & Nutrition

Prune puree can replace as much as 30 per cent of the fat by weight in chocolate cupcakes, and could be used to reduce saturated fat levels in baked goods, according to an upcoming presentation by US researchers.

The researchers, based at New York’s Hunter College, will present their findings during a poster session at the ADA Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo in Boston in November.

A number of ingredients have emerged as fat replacers, which are generally classified into carbohydrate-, lipid-, and protein-based groups. However, the challenge remains to develop ideal fat replacers for low-fat and low-calorie products in which the texture, flavour, and appearance are not compromised.

The US based authors, citing previous research indicating successful results for other fruit based purees as fat replacers, said that they investigated the effectiveness of prune puree at 0 (control), 15, 30, and 60 per cent levels on the physical, textural and sensory properties of chocolate cupcakes.

A previous study by researchers based at the same institution showed the effectiveness of avocado puree as a fat replacer in oatmeal cookies, with oatmeal cookies prepared by replacing 50 per cent of the fat with avocado puree to a control using 100 per cent butter.

In this evaluation of prune puree, the authors noted that texture analysis conducted with a TA.XT2 analyzer showed increased hardness, and chewiness as levels of fat decreased.

And compared to the control, all fat-reduced cupcakes were more dense, and had higher water activity levels. Meanwhile, sensory data was found to correlate with instrumental data for hardness and moisture content for all formulations.

The researchers claim sensory properties evaluated by untrained panelists using a hedonic scale showed fat reduced cupcakes with prune puree to be acceptable up to the 30 per cent level.

They concluded that prune puree can be incorporated into chocolate cupcake manufacture to produce products with 24 per cent less total fat, 26 per cent less saturated fat, and 4.36 per cent fewer calories on regular cupcakes.

Meanwhile a recent study found that steam jet-cooked buckwheat flour can be used to partially replace shortening in baked goods including cakes, with no detrimental impact on texture or volume.

The study, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, found that shortening replacement with steam-jet processed buckwheat flour up to 20 per cent by weight produced cakes as soft as the control without volume loss.