It has long been a problem for the baking industry that some egg batches perform better than others, even when they obtain similar results with current testing methods, such as pH measurements and foaming tests.
The researchers used a simple heating and stirring technique called Rapid Visco Analysis (RVA), whereby egg is heated gradually while it is stirred by a paddle. RVA measures the increase in energy required to move the paddle as the egg thickens and then this data is compared alongside the quality of finished bakery products.
Campden BRI says this method may explain inconsistencies and provide a fast quality control test for liquid egg as the test takes just 10 to 15 minutes to complete.
Campden BRI’s bakery expert Dr Terry Sharp said: “Eggs are such a fundamental part of food production that this discovery is a huge step forward. Measuring an egg’s performance has been an issue for a long time. There are so many different kinds [of egg] it has proved to be a very complicated task. Now we have come up with the perfect measuring system. It is an exciting advance and could have a huge impact on the industry.”
The researchers say that the next phase, which is due to begin in November, will examine different kinds of egg with the aim of finding the perfect one for use in bakery products. This will include comparing the performance of fresh, pasteurised, frozen and dried eggs which have been stored for different time periods.
Parallel research at the institute has established parameters for testing the firmness of egg gel after cooking and the influence of differing proportions of yolk and white.
The testing was initially used to find the best egg for use in Yorkshire puddings but it will also be applied to cakes, quiche, brioche and pastry products, with the next stage of research to be funded by ten BRI member companies that have expressed interest in the technology, although Campden BRI would not disclose how much funding it will receive.
Both egg producers and bakers have signed up to the project and the researchers envisage that the test results will allow suppliers to provide egg products specifically suited to their customers’ needs, whether to avoid soggy pastry, for use as an emulsifier, or to increase volume in cakes and Yorkshire puddings.
Campden BRI, formerly known as the Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association, is the biggest membership-based food and drink research centre in the world. It has over 1690 members from across the food industry based in 60 countries.