Better Spreadability and Stability in Icing and Frosting with High Oleic Soybean Oil

Buttercream frostings and icings are baking industry favorites for their rich, indulgent mouthfeel and ability to hold color. These sweet cake and cookie toppings require a bakery fat that has excellent stability, resistance to cracking, and a consistent texture at room temperature. In the past, shortenings made from partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) were frequently used to realize these properties in icing applications.

However, following the trans fats ban, formulators sought PHO replacements and began using palm oil in icings and frostings. Palm oil is an economical choice, and it remains spreadable at room temperature. However, it does have drawbacks.

Compared to soybean oil, palm products contain high levels of saturated fats, which some consumers avoid for heart health reasons. There are also functional concerns that formulators encounter when using palm oil in applications.

Palm oil shortenings have a slight tint that affects the color of finished applications, a concern that is especially challenging when developing icings. In contrast, shortenings made from interesterified high oleic soybean (HOSoy) oil are pure white and very effective at holding other colors.

Enzymatic interesterification (EIE) of high oleic soybean oil results in shortenings that have properties similar to PHOs, but without trans fats. Furthermore, EIE HOSoy shortenings have a higher melting point than palm-based products, making them resistant to cracking and workable at a wider range of temperatures. The results are spreadable icings with tantalizing textures.

Icing performance data show that the viscosity and specific gravity of EIE high oleic soybean shortening is the closest to that of PHOs. When it comes to spreadability and stability, HOSoy-based shortenings outperform other alternatives, including palm. The ideal specific gravity range for buttercream icing is 0.8 to 0.95 grams per milliliter, as a level lower than 0.75 g/ml leaves a greasy mouthfeel. In a 12-month study by QUALISOY, the specific gravity of buttercream icing made from HOSoy shortening outperformed icing made with a palm-based shortening.

EIE HOSoy is poised to become the shortening of choice for commercial bakeries. Collaborative efforts by the United Soybean Board and U.S. soybean farmers are currently underway to rapidly increase the supply of high oleic soybean oil. There are currently several EIE HOSoy shortenings on the market that are available in commercial quantities.

If you are interested in testing EIE high oleic soybean shortening in your application, request a sample.

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