Yellow cake with Aquacel™ GSH cellulose gum

Ashland Specialty Ingredients
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FTR-017-1 (Supersedes FTR-017)
Yellow Cake
With Aquacel™ GSH cellulose gum
Consumers and bakery retailers expect high quality and performance from cakes in today’s markets. Uniform crumb,
soft texture, high volume and a smooth decorating surface are attributes of such high-quality cakes. Cellulose gum
(sodium carboxymethylcellulose, or CMC) has a long history of use in high-quality cakes.
Aquasorb™ A-500 CMC has excellent water binding and water holding properties and is used to increase moistness
and softness in baked goods to improve shelf life. Aquacel GSH CMC is a high-viscosity, high-performance
cellulose gum especially useful in considering hydrocolloid supplementation or replacement needs.
In this study, CMC and xanthan gum performances were compared in a high-ratio yellow cake dry mix. Because
hydrocolloids each have unique properties and particular benefits in food applications, an understanding of the
functions and benefits of each hydrocolloid will help formulators make decisions about ingredients.
Executive Summary
Cakes were evaluated in aspects important for processors as well as end users; these were batter viscosity and
density, baking properties and cake volume, texture analysis and sensory evaluation. Cake batters with hydrocolloids
had similar viscosity and batter density, indicating that handling would be similar when comparing one hydrocolloid to
another. There were differences in cake performance indicating each hydrocolloid brings unique properties, providing
formulators options for using individual hydrocolloids or blends to take advantage of the benefits.
The cake with Aquacel GSH CMC had good firmness and height and was preferred by the untrained panel that
evaluated sensory qualities of the various cakes. The sensory qualities were identified as attractive crumb
appearance and a moist and tender bite. This unique high-viscosity CMC also provides a smooth crust and even
crown, making an ideal surface for frosting cakes.
The cake with Aquasorb A-500 CMC was similar to the cake with Aquacel GSH CMC in height, but was identified as
less moist by the untrained panelists. Aquasorb A-500 CMC is highly absorbent, requiring more water in the initial
formulation for improved moistness.
The cake with xanthan gum had the most height and firmness but was domed in appearance, which may present
decorating challenges. This cake also had a chewy texture, as determined by the untrained panel, which correlated to
the springiness identified in the texture analysis.
The dry cake mix was made in a master batch (see Table 1) that was mixed on a Kitchen Aid* mixer with a paddle
attachment until well blended.
All statements, information, and data presented herein are believed to be accurate and reliable, but are not to be taken as a guarantee, an express warranty, or an implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose, or
representation, express or implied, for which Ashland assumes legal responsibility. ®Registered trademark, Ashland or its subsidiaries, registered in various countries. ™Trademark, Ashland or its subsidiaries, registered in various
countries. *Trademark owned by a third party. © 2013, 2014, Ashland.
Rev. 9-2014
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Table 1. Dry cake mix formulation
Weight %
Vegetable shortening
Nonfat milk powder
Sodium aluminum phosphate
Sodium bicarbonate
The dry mix was weighed into the mixer bowl. For the test cakes, hydrocolloid was blended well into the dry mix. A
reference cake with no added hydrocolloid and an additional 0.3 weight percent of cake mix was also prepared. The
basic batter formulation is described in Table 2. After mixing, 800 grams of batter were added to a 9 × 9 inch (23 × 23
cm) baking pan and baked at 350 °F (177 °C) for 37 minutes. Several cakes were made from each formulation to
enable testing for each variable.
Table 2. Cake batter formulation
Weight %
Cake mix
W ater
Hydrocolloids in cakes control batter viscosity and improve texture and appearance. For improved yield and shelf life
more water may be added to a cake batter when using hydrocolloids. The reference formulation, containing no added
hydrocolloid but the same water addition as the test cakes, performed very poorly with low volume, hard texture and
an under baked appearance. CMC- and xanthan gum-containing cakes did not perform identically and had unique
strengths and weaknesses.
Sensory Evaluation
Cakes were evaluated by untrained panelists for appearance, moistness, texture and preference. Samples were blind
coded and presented to 12 participants. Panelists found cakes to be similar in appearance. The cake containing
Aquacel™ GSH CMC was preferred by panelists.
The cake made with Aquacel GSH CMC was rated as softer than the cake made with xanthan gum.
The cake with Aquasorb™ A-500 CMC was considered the least moist; supporting the practice of adding
more water to cake batters using Aquasorb A-500 CMC.
The cake made with xanthan gum was described as firm and chewy; correlating to the springiness results in
the texture analysis.
The reference cake was not included in this evaluation as it performed poorly during baking.
Cake Baking Properties and Height
Cake baking properties were determined by cake appearance in shape and crumb. Cakes with poor baking properties
often collapse due to insufficient structure and have a wet and uncooked appearance when cut, indicating too much
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uncontrolled moisture in the batter. Another common defect is cake shape. Although good volume is desired, a cake
with too much height appears pointed or domed. This presents an uneven surface for frosting and decorating and
such a cake may need to be leveled before frosting.
After baking and cooling, cake height was measured with a caliper inserted into the un-cut cake. Measurements were
taken at the approximate center of the cake and at four points about half way between the center and the outer edge
of the cake. Differences between the center point and surrounding points can indicate a more domed cake formation.
Cakes with Aquacel™ GSH CMC or Aquasorb™ A-500 CMC were similar in height but more rounded and less
domed. The cake made with xanthan gum had greater height and a larger difference between the center point and
the surrounding points, indicating a more domed appearance. The reference cake collapsed.
See photographs in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Appearance of baked cakes
Cake bake-out properties were also examined visually. The cake with Aquacel GSH CMC had an attractive even
crumb and crown. The cake with Aquasorb A-500 CMC had the most even and tight crumb. The cake with xanthan
gum was more domed in the center of the cake and an uneven crumb texture. The reference cake did not bake
Cake Texture Analysis
Cake texture can be a good screening tool. Texture analysis can indicate cake firmness and recovery from
compression, among other attributes. Most consumers enjoy soft, tender cakes but with some resiliency, or recovery,
so they are not crumbly. Too much resiliency or springiness, however, may be related to a chewy texture.
A TAXT texture analyzer (Stable MicroSystems) was used on approximately 3 inch (7.6 cm) square pieces cut from
the cakes one day after baking, not including either the side crust or center dome of the cake. The Cake Compression
Test from the instrument test library was used, with a 30 mm stainless steel cylindrical probe. Cakes were
compressed to 25% of original height, held for 2 seconds, then given a 10-second recovery. Data from the test gave
information on cake firmness and springiness. Firmness is the force required to compress the sample, while
springiness is determined by recovery from compression; both are reported as force in g.
Cakes with Aquacel GSH cellulose gum or xanthan gum were similar in firmness, while the cake with Aquasorb A-500
CMC was softer. The reference cake was very firm and did not bake properly. Cake firmness data are
shown in Figure 2.
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Figure 2. Texture analysis on cakes using TAXT Texture Analyzer
Cakes with Aquacel™ GSH cellulose gum or Aquasorb™ A-500 cellulose gum were similar in springiness. The
reference cake with no hydrocolloid was low in springiness, indicating it did not recover from compression. The cake
containing xanthan gum was highest in springiness but this resulted in a chewier texture. This correlates well with the
findings of untrained panel that found it to be objectionably chewy. Cake springiness data are shown in Figure 3.
Texture analysis: Springiness
Force, g
Aquacel™ GSH
cellulose gum A-500 cellulose
Xanthan gum
Figure 3. Texture analysis on cakes using TAXT Texture Analyzer
Batter Viscosity and Density
Batter viscosity impacts mixing conditions and filling operations for automated processes. Batter density is an
indication of air entrainment during mixing and also influences filling operations and cake volume. In this study all
hydrocolloids similarly increased batter viscosity and decreased density, indicating that cake processing will not be
greatly affected by hydrocolloid choice.
Immediately following mixing, viscosity was measured for each cake batter using a Brookfield LVT viscometer fitted
with a helipath attachment. The helipath allows the spindle attachment (T-bar) to measure viscosity as it spirals down
through the sample, cutting a new path as it travels, thus removing the effects of previous shear. Results in Table 3
are readings from one minute. Batter viscosities were similar in the cakes made with Aquacel GSH cellulose gum,
Aquasorb A-500 cellulose gum and xanthan gum, and all were markedly higher than the reference batter.
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Table 3. Cake batter viscosity and density
Formulation variable
Batter viscosity, cP
Batter density (g/l)
Aquacel™ GSH cellulose gum
Aquasorb™ A-500 cellulose gum
Xanthan gum
Reference, no hydrocolloid
Cellulose gum and xanthan gum containing batters had similar, lower densities compared with the reference
formulation. Cellulose gum and xanthan gum entrain air during batter mixing and lighten the batter, lowering the
density. This aerates the cake and increases volume. Some commercial cake formulations contain additional
ingredients such as emulsifiers and fast-acting leavening to decrease batter density even further.
Additional Literature
See the Ashland formulations 01-1057B Sponge Cake and Swiss Roll with Aquasorb A-500 Cellulose Gum, 01-1059
Cupcakes with Aquasorb A-500 Cellulose Gum 01-1018A, Pound Cakes with Aquasorb A-500 Cellulose Gum and 011055 Yellow Cake Mix with Aquasorb A-500 Cellulose Gum; as well as the technical reports FTR-006 Aquasorb A500 Cellulose Gum in White Pan Bread and FTR-007 Aquasorb A-500 Cellulose Gum for Replacement of Guar Gum
in Brötchen-type Bread
See the Ashland document PC-11695 Aquacel GSH Cellulose Gum.