Making white layer cakes with more fiber or less fat

Jan 10, 2014 by Marcia Wood
Bakery cakes like this one may one day have more fiber. ARS scientists are using finely ground corn bran as a substitute for some of the flour used to make white layer cake, raising its fiber content without sacrificing quality. Additional research is aimed at reducing the confection’s calorie content. Credit: Stephen Ausmus

White layer cakes can be made with more fiber or less fat, without significantly undermining many of the qualities of this favorite treat. These improvements can be made to cakes that are prepared at commercial bakeries or to the boxed mixes sold for home bakers, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) food technologist Mukti Singh.

Her experiments with healthful, edible fiber focused on corn bran, the fiber-rich outer layer of corn kernels. She determined that purified, finely ground corn bran can be used as a substitute for up to 20 percent of the flour called for in the American Association of Cereal Chemists' "gold standard" test recipe for white cake.

Using 20 percent corn bran fiber didn't significantly impact qualities such as color or springiness (the unfrosted top surface of a good cake will spring back when gently touched). And, the 25 volunteer taste-tasters who sampled cake made with that amount of the fiber rated it as "acceptable." In taste-tester terminology, that counts as a vote of confidence.

One slice of an 8-inch, 6-slice, two-layer white cake made with 20 percent corn bran fiber would provide about 5 grams of fiber, compared to about 1 gram from a conventional white layer cake.

Singh and colleagues Steven F. Vaughn and Sean X. Liu described the research in a 2012 article in Biocatalysis and Agricultural Biotechnology. The scientists are with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Ill. ARS is the USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.

The study is apparently among the few that provide publicly accessible data about the effects that relatively high concentrations of purified, finely ground corn bran can have on the quality of white cake.

In the tests aimed at cutting fat, and its calories—without sacrificing quality—Singh worked with a patented, ARS-developed process that uses steam-jet cooking to encapsulate microdroplets of cooking oil (in this case, canola) with flour and water. The cream-textured mixture that results can then be dried to form a smooth-flowing, shelf-stable powder that offers busy bakers the convenience of not having to pour, measure or clean up any oil.

For this preliminary research, Singh used only 25 percent of the cooking oil called for in the gold-standard recipe. In a 2012 issue of the Journal of Food Processing and Technology, and elsewhere, Singh has reported that cakes made with the flour-oil-water "composites" were softer and springier, and stayed moist longer, than cakes made with the same amount of nonencapsulated flour, oil, and water.

The experiments provide a foundation for further research, including taste-testing.

Explore further: Predictive tool to identify sequences causing mutations, genome instability and diseases

More information: An article in the November/December 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine highlights the studies.

Related Stories

Cutting fat -- and calories -- from cakes and frostings

Mar 29, 2010

Delicious new cakes and frostings may someday contain less fat and fewer calories, thanks to work by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists such as Mukti Singh. She's based at the ARS National Center for Agricultural ...

Enhancing yogurt with healthful fiber from oats

Mar 26, 2013

Adding about one-quarter teaspoon of a fiber-rich component of oats boosts the nutritional value of low-fat yogurt without noticeably affecting the taste or texture of this increasingly popular dairy food.

Making whole wheat bread taste and smell more appetizing

Jan 09, 2013

The key to giving whole wheat bread a more appetizing aroma and taste may lie in controlling the amounts of a single chemical compound that appears in the bread, which nutritionists regard as more healthful ...

French fries' oil content: It's lower with infrared heat

Jul 30, 2013

French fries typically soak up a lot of oil while they're in the deep-fat fryer. But U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist Zhongli Pan and his colleagues have shown that prepping the raw fries for ...

Recommended for you

First step towards global attack on potato blight

23 hours ago

European researchers and companies concerned with the potato disease phytophthora will work more closely with parties in other parts of the world. The first move was made during the biennial meeting of the ...

Bacteria study could have agricultural impact

May 28, 2015

Wichita State University microbiology professor Mark Schneegurt and ornithology professor Chris Rogers have discovered that one of North America's most common migratory birds – the Dark-eyed Junco – carries ...

Sex chromosomes—why the Y genes matter

May 27, 2015

Several genes have been lost from the Y chromosome in humans and other mammals, according to research published in the open access journal Genome Biology. The study shows that essential Y genes are rescue ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.