The baking industry is on the search for functional, sustainable ingredients in puff pastries. A functionality test from QUALISOY found that high oleic soybean shortening meets that need. Soy-based solutions performed on par with butter, the gold standard for puff pastries.

Frank Flider, QUALISOY’s oils expert, recently spoke about the study and its results.

Bake: Can you describe the test conducted and how the different shortenings/butter were compared?

The objective of this study was to compare the performance of interesterified high oleic soybean shortening against the performance of other commonly used fats. The fats used in the study were butter, interesterified conventional soybean shortening, PHO soybean shortening (for historical comparison), and palm-based shortening. All shortenings were used to produce and evaluate square puffs and fruit filled pastries. Laminated doughs were produced with each shortening utilizing the same formulations and procedures. All puffs and pastries were evaluated for sensory, texture analysis, moisture, spread, height, freeze thaw, color, and appearance.

What were the final results of the test?

Puff pastries made with butter and interesterified high oleic soybean shortening showed the most consistent honeycomb structures while palm and interesterified conventional soy pastries had large voids with no consistent honeycomb structure. Puff pastries produced from palm shortening had the least amount of rise, a darker color than the interesterified high oleic soybean shortening and butter pastries, and a tougher texture. Fruit filled pastries made with butter and high oleic soybean shortening had the most consistent rise, color, honeycomb structure, and sensory attributes. The conclusion was that high oleic soybean shortening and butter produced the highest quality puff pastries in terms of appearance, rise, color, and texture.

What is the ideal look and taste for a puff pastry, and how does high oleic soybean shortening achieve that?

The ideal puff pastry will have a very even honeycomb structure with uniform separation of the layers. The voids between each layer will be neither too large, nor too small. The consistent structure contributes to a desirable bite and texture. The finished pastry will be golden brown in color, without appearing burnt or pale. The high oleic soybean shortening has a very wide working temperature range, which is conducive to quality puff pastry production. As it is easily workable at room temperature, it can be used to produce laminates with the right amount of thickness, and the shortening will not readily melt during lamination. It will also melt at the desired temperature during baking.

This results in very consistent layering with an even distribution of fat. Because the pastry heats up evenly during baking, no unwanted air pockets are formed and the melting is very consistent, resulting in the even honeycomb structured desired in puff pastries. By the time the fat does melt, the pastry has been adequately structured. The neutral flavor of the high oleic soybean shortening does not contribute any off flavors or notes, resulting in a very clean taste in the finished product. While butter contributed a very desirable flavor, the high oleic shortening produces a non-dairy, clean tasting product.

How does high oleic soybean shortening meet the industry’s need for functional, sustainable ingredients in puff pastries?

PHO-based shortenings were developed to approximate the functionality of butter and lard, and over the decades, the baking professional has developed a great deal of know-how and experience in the use of these shortenings. However, with interesterified high oleic soy shortenings, the baking professional in a post-PHO world still has a very functional shortening toolbox to work from. Because of its fatty acid composition, structure, and melting and handling characteristics, high oleic shortenings are drop-in substitutes for these fats. There is no need to change formulations or production techniques when substituting high oleic shortening for other fats. Also, because of the inherent flexibility of interesterification, shortenings can be tailored to exact specifications if desired. High oleic soybeans are also grown domestically and meet strict sustainability standards.