Going Plant-Based : A Piece of Cake!

Plant-based is trending, but how do we expect this to influence the world of sweet baked goods, where eggs, dairy and butter seem indispensable? We asked Jessica Blondeel, Senior Product Manager Patisserie, for her thoughts and expectations for the future.

Let’s start with the basics: What Exactly is Plant-Based? 

Jessica: First, plant-based by definition means that none of the ingredients we use are derived from animals. This obviously means no eggs, dairy or butter but also no honey, gelatin or animal-derived colors. Secondly, a common misconception is to assume that the sole consumers of plant-based products are vegans. The vast majority of plant-based products are in fact purchased by non-vegans. There is a rapidly growing segment of people that consciously reduce their consumption of animal-based food, the so-called flexitarians. According to a recent study, over 1 out of 3 Americans identify as flexitarian and this segment continues to grow. Finally, plant based products are defined as products that do not intentionally contain materials of animal origin, including but not limited to ingredients, additives, carriers, flavorings, enzymes, and processing aids.

What are the some of the challenges when formulating cakes and other sweet baked goods without animal-derived ingredients?

Jessica: When you remove animal-derived ingredients such as eggs or dairy from sweet baked goods, you are essentially removing the very functional structure building proteins, which can easily result in a very gummy or sticky cake. At Puratos, we want to offer plant-based alternatives without compromising on taste or texture. To achieve this, we researched the role of each ingredient, resulting in a combination of enzyme technology, natural flavors and a well-balanced blend of proteins, starches and flours to create great tasting sweet baked goods.

What sweet baked goods are the easiest to formulate plant-based and why? 

Jessica: Some ingredients are plant based by nature, such as fruit fillings. For that reason, I would say pies, tarts or fruit Danishes are probably the easiest to formulate plant-based. Margarine and plant-based butter make a good alternative to real butter, and egg-wash alternatives such as our Sunset Glaze offer the same shine and color as real eggs. Next to that I would say that any sweet baked good that doesn’t require a ton of structure such as dessert bars or cookies would be easier to formulate without animal ingredients. Crème cakes and layer cakes are a lot more challenging, due to the high amount of eggs they contain. Regardless of the product, it is important to offer consistent quality and peace of mind to our customers. For example, a full mix where you only add water and oil will be worth a lot more to customers than one where you must add specialty ingredients such as soy milk or vegan butter.

What kind of plant-based ingredients does Puratos offer?

When it comes to sweet goods, we offer plant-based alternatives in most product categories, ranging from plant-based mixes and chocolate to fillings, icings, toppings and glazes. We split up our products in 2 categories: products that help replace eggs and products that replace dairy.

The first category consists of our range of plant-based cake, donut and brownie mixes, as well as our market-leading egg-wash alternative Sunset Glaze. On top of being 100% plant-based, our recently launched plant-based cake and brownie mixes are also clean label and free from GMO ingredients. To replace dairy, we offer a full range of plant-based cream fillings, non-dairy toppings and plant-based icings, fudges and buttercreams.  

Where do you see the future going?

I mentioned the strong growth in flexitarians, and I don’t expect this to slow down anytime soon. People want to feel good about the products they consume. They want to contribute to a better future for all, including animals and the planet. With technology evolving, the quality of these plant-based alternatives will only improve. Just think of the milk industry: I remember the first time I saw soy milk in a mainstream grocery store. Now you have almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, rice milk and oat milk – to name a few.

 I believe offering real ingredients (clean label, non-gmo, transparent supply chain) and offering responsible alternatives to consumers will be key for brands and companies to succeed. And truly responsible products don’t just benefit consumers, they benefit everyone involved including farms, animals and the planet.

That’s why it’s our vision to deliver indulgence you can feel good about.