Freshness relates to two dynamics: texture and flavor, according to Roger Daniels, vice president research, development, innovation, and quality for Stratas Foods LLC. This is important to recognize as single-serve desserts become increasingly popular in the consumer marketplace.

“A single-serve dessert is on trend in the take-and-go world that continues to evolve as we exit the COVID-19 pandemic,” Daniels says. “Consumers do not want the whole cake, pie or batch of cookies and opt instead for the high-quality dessert item in a single-serve package. The challenge for the baker is to ensure freshness of the single-serve item from bakery to consumers’ plate.”

As the single-serve item is smaller than a full cake or pie, the surface area vs. the volume is more prone to staling and off-flavor development, he explains. A means for maximizing the freshness factor in single-serve items is via the correct selection of ingredients. which broadly speaking fall within a classification of a softener or a toughener.

Softeners are items that tenderize a dough like sugar and shortening, while a toughener is a protein-containing component like eggs, and flour, which set structure when their respective proteins are denatured via either a change in pH during batching or heat from the baking process.

“As it relates to maintaining freshness the ingredient with the greatest variance in functionality is the shortening,” Daniels explains. “There are many shortening options and run the range of All-purpose to Cake and Icing shortenings.”

A shortening that is formulated with a high oleic oil like Stratas Foods Apex or Golden Sweetex has the greatest power in maximizing freshness, he says. This is due to its use of a high oleic oil component which protects against staling and off flavor development. The high oleic oil-based shortening helps to protect against staling by contributing a stronger tenderizing function that also contributes to a more stable post baked matrix.

As it relates to oxidation, the key contributor to off flavor development, the composition of the high oleic oil-based shortening is such that it is more stable when compared to non-high oleic oil based shortenings.

“As always the quickest way to zero in on the optimal shortening system for your products is to enlist the service of a top tier tech team like the one at Stratas Foods,” Daniels explains.

Selection of fat systems saturates levels – As a general rule of thumb, domestic oils (e.g. soy/canola/cotton) are lower in saturated fats when compared to off-shore oils (e.g. palm/palm kernel/coconut).

Selection of fat systems high oleic levels – Oils which are high in oleic acids are naturally more stable to oxidation when compared to oils which are high in polyunsaturated oils.

Physical characteristics of fat system – liquid vs. semi solid vs. plastic.

Composition of fat system – Physical blends vs. Interesterified vs. Fractionated vs, Structured lipids.

Crystallization properties of the fat system, especially where chocolat- based desserts are concerned, because fat and sugar bloom may be a challenge when handling small / single serve items.

“Understand why ingredient A is being added before the ingredient B in a given recipe/formula,” Daniels says. “Confirm your tools are functioning properly (i.e.. batching time / temperature and oven temperature). Collaboration with Stratas’ top tier tech team helps you find the sweet spot between art and science in your participation in the single serve dessert category.”