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What are Major Types and Roles of Emulsifiers in Baking

Emulsifiers play a crucial role in the food industry, not only in products like bread, cakes, and biscuits but also in candies, dairy products, and oil-based products. As a result, emulsifiers have become indispensable additives in modern food processing, contributing to the production of high-quality and consistently textured food items enjoyed by consumers worldwide.

What is Emulsifier in Food?

Emulsification refers to the process of creating a homogeneous mixture, known as an emulsion, between two substances that are normally immiscible, such as water and oil, similar to the consistency of milk. Substances that facilitate this process are known as emulsifiers or surfactants.

Emulsifiers were first used in the industrial production of artificial creams in 1930. Since then, their use in baking, pastries, and other food products has rapidly expanded. They are crucial in food production for enhancing texture, appearance, and shelf life.


what is emulsifier in food

What is the HLB of Emulsifiers?

The most common method for representing the balance of hydrophilic and lipophilic properties of emulsifiers is the Hydrophile-lipophile balance (HLB) method. The HLB scale ranges from 0 to 20, with lower values indicating a greater affinity for oil and higher values indicating a greater affinity for water. Generally, emulsifiers with strong hydrophilic properties can form "oil-in-water" emulsions, called "O/W type" emulsifiers, while those with strong lipophilic properties are called "W/O type" emulsifiers.

Roles of Emulsifiers in Cakes and Bread:

Emulsifiers in Cake Making:
The use of emulsifiers in cake-making serves several purposes:
►Shorten Processing Time: Emulsifiers help to shorten the processing time, leading to increased leavening and improved structure of the cake.
►Improve Mechanical Adaptability: Emulsifiers aid in enhancing the adaptability of ingredients to mechanical processing, especially in mechanized operations.

When making cakes, the emulsifiers added typically require an HLB (Hydrophilic-Lipophilic Balance) value between 2.8 to 4.0. Within this range, one or multiple emulsifiers can be chosen, and through experimentation, the most suitable combination is determined. However, it's uncommon to directly add emulsifiers to flour in cake production. Instead, they are typically used as foaming agents, emulsifiers, or as components of liquid shortening.

Emulsifiers in Cake Making

Emulsifiers in Bread Making:
Emulsifiers are extensively used in modern bread making, with monoglycerides being the predominant type, with usage levels reaching up to 0.5% of the flour weight. They are commonly used in powdered form, but sometimes also incorporated as one of the ingredients in shortening.

The main objectives of using emulsifiers in bread are as follows:
▲Improve Dough Physical Properties: Emulsifiers help to enhance the physical properties of the dough, overcoming stickiness and improving its extensibility.
▲Increase Mechanical Resistance: They contribute to increasing the dough's mechanical resistance.
▲Favor the Production of Soft and Large-volume Bread: Emulsifiers aid in baking bread with a soft and voluminous texture, resulting in finer bread structure and improved texture and taste.
▲Prevent Aging and Maintain Freshness: Emulsifiers help to prevent bread from aging, thus ensuring its freshness.

The aforementioned effects are the combined result of the interactions between the starch, protein, and fat in wheat flour and the emulsifiers. During dough formation, emulsifiers form complexes with the wheat flour proteins responsible for gluten formation, promoting the development of gluten and its resistance to mechanical processing. In other words, they alter the properties of the proteins.


Common Emulsifiers Used in Baking:

1. Monoglycerides
Monoglycerides are a diverse group of emulsifiers, with monoglycerides formed from stearic acid and glycerol being the most preferred. Additionally, there are several derivatives, including acetylated monoglycerides (ACETEM), propylene glycol monostearate (PGMS), sucrose esters of fatty acids, polyglycerol esters of fatty acids (PGE), and lactic acid esters of mono- and diglycerides (LACTEM).

Monoglycerides are the primary emulsifiers used in baked goods. In starch-based foods, they serve several functions:
●Protect starch granules and inhibit swelling.
●Increase the gelatinization temperature of starch.
●Protect swollen starch granules and prevent the leaching of soluble starch.
●Promote the α-amylase of starch during heating and prevent the re-crystallization of already α-amylase starch.
●Prevent the gelatinization of starch paste.

Emulsifiers in Bread Making

2. Soybean Phospholipids
Among these, the primary component is Lecithin. This type of emulsifier is soluble in fats but insoluble in water. When added to the dough, it improves the dough's fermentation tolerance and ensures uniform coloration of the bread crust after baking. It also enhances dough properties and softens the surface of the bread.

3. Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Monoglycerides (DATEM)
Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Monoglycerides (DATEM) is a commonly used food additive, also known as an emulsifier, primarily used to enhance the texture and taste of bread and other baked goods. It is produced by reacting diacetyl tartaric acid with monoglycerides.

The main function of DATEM (E472e) is to enhance emulsification in the dough, facilitating the mixing of water and fat. This emulsifying action improves the dough's processing properties, making it easier to handle and shape. Additionally, DATEM emulsifier helps increase the volume and texture of bread, making it softer and fluffier. It also extends the shelf life of bread and other baked goods, slowing down the hardening process and preserving the desired texture.

4. SSL (Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate)
SSL (Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate) is a common food additive used as an emulsifier and stabilizer in various food products. It is derived from the reaction of stearic acid (a fatty acid derived from vegetable or animal fats) with lactic acid and sodium hydroxide. SSL e481 emulsifier is primarily used in baked goods, such as bread, cakes, and pastries, as well as in other food products like sauces, dressings, and desserts.

5. Calcium Stearyl Lactylate (CSL)
Calcium stearoyl lactylate, also known as CSL, is a powder that is easily soluble in oil and difficult to dissolve in water. It is often called a dough strengthener or volume enhancer. CSL E482 can significantly increase the stability and elasticity of gluten and improve the mechanical tolerance of dough during flour blending. It contributes to creating bread with good texture, large volume, and soft crust. Additionally, it has anti-aging effects. The recommended usage level (based on flour weight) is not more than 0.5%. Excessive use may affect the flavor of the bread.


The above-mentioned bread emulsifiers have their advantages. Bread producers can choose the appropriate emulsifier according to their own production needs, bread types, and recipe characteristics, as well as cost and market demand factors, to achieve the expected product quality and performance. Buy food emulsifiers now and revolutionize your baking experience!
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