The Wrong Texture Can Be a Disaster

The wrong texture can completely change the perception of flavor and turn a winning formulation into a chalky or gummy mess.

By David Feder, Product Development Editor

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Texture matching



Cargill's TexDesign series of fat replacers is designed specifically for fat replacement in bakery applications requiring a more exacting textural template.

“The ingredients in any food formulation determine the structural and sensory characteristics of the product,” says Susan Gurkin, applications and technical services manager for Cargill Inc. (, Wayzata, Minn. As Gurkin notes, many popular bakery products such as cakes, luxury breads and cookies are traditionally high in fat. But in response to the trend toward healthier eating and fat reduction, manufacturers are seeking ways to reduce the fat content of baked goods without compromising texture, taste or existing production processes.

“Whenever you change a product formulation — e.g., reduce or remove specific ingredients such as eggs, fat, sugar or dairy proteins — you will most likely need more than one of the following items: starches, gums, resistant starch, maltodextrin, polyols, polydextrose or whey proteins to ‘match’ the original product’s texture,” says Gurkin.

Cargill recently introduced its TexDesign series of fat replacers for bakery applications. TexDesign products are carbohydrate-based fat-replacement systems designed to achieve the full functional and sensory characteristics of traditional full-fat baked goods, while significantly reducing fat content.

TexDesign products are easy to incorporate as a dry mix or cream to replace margarine or oil without the need to modify existing production methods. These blends lend themselves to a wide variety of traditional and contemporary indulgent bakery applications.


At the opening of National Starch’s Texture Center of Excellence, Wylie Dufresne (center), chef and owner of New York restaurant wd-50, works with the restaurant’s pastry chef Alex Stupak and Agnes Jones, principal culinologist at National Starch.

Other companies are thinking of texture in gradients. In June, National Starch Food Innovation (, Bridgewater, N.J., opened its multimillion-dollar Texture Center of Excellence. There, National’s innovation and manufacturing teams optimize and scale up new products as well as refine manufacturing processes for the company’s 10 production facilities around the globe.

“We created the Texture Center as a resource for the whole food industry, to develop a clearer understanding of how consumers perceive texture and establish a scientific basis for creating textures that they prefer,” Vice President Tony Delio said at the center’s opening. “It represents our commitment to advancing the art and science of texture and to working closely with our customers to develop innovative, consumer-winning foods that have greater commercial success.”

In addition to a full-time culinology team, the Texture Center houses two groups of experts dedicated to “developing scientific profiles of and practical applications for food textures.” The Sensory Team, working with trained descriptive panelists, is charged with “translating consumers’ basic descriptions of food textures (e.g., smooth, crunchy, creamy, rich) into a comprehensive lexicon of technical terms that can be applied to guide food formulators in developing new and improved foods.”


Modified gum acacia is a replacement for propylene glycol alginate in TIC Gums’ new Saladizer Max. The emulsifier imparts a creamy texture and creates the expected mouthfeel and appearance of salad dressings and similar products.

And in the Texture Characterization Lab, a team of materials scientists and rheologists can “rapidly measure the texture of various materials and design new functional systems, using specially engineered robotic equipment, that work at more than 10 times the speed of current development efforts.”

To exemplify the center’s potential, National Starch showcased at July’s IFT Food Expo snack-texture capabilities that can be used to create desired textures in a baked cracker or fabricated snack chip. In between “delicate and crispy” to “bold and crunchy” is what the company calls a new and differentiated “in-between” texture region, for which National trademarked the term “crinchy.”

Also opening a multimillion-dollar texture research facility is TIC Gums (, Belcamp, Md. The Texture Innovation Center (acronym TIC) will assist the company’s efforts to advance texture knowledge while serving clients with unique texture challenges.

Gums are other widely performing ingredients used in texture control and manipulation. At the IFT Expo, President Gregory Andon pointed out gums are used to stabilize dairy products and beverage emulsions, replace fat in bakery and other food products, improve freeze/thaw stability of frozen foods, adhere seasonings to snack foods, encapsulate flavors, stabilize and emulsify salad dressings, improve texture in frozen desserts and prevent sugar crystallization in confections. All are critical components of texture.

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