Concern over the quality of gluten-free bread and rolls prompted a Kansas State University research team to look at how to improve the taste, volume, color, moisture and other characteristics of these products.

They found that eggs could help replace the protein matrix normally provided by gluten that gives bread its volume, texture and other appealing characteristics.

“Eggs — also a protein source — are known for their foaming ability,” says team leader Fadi Aramouni, Phd, an extension specialist and professor of food science at KSU. “Using eggs as part of a glutem-free bread roll formulation, we were able to increase volume and improve color and texture.”

This research was presented during a poster session at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and Food Expo in Chicago earlier this month.

“Before beginning our research three years ago, we found despite the rapidly expanding retail market for gluten-free products, many of the gluten-free offerings were of mediocre quality,” Aramouni says. “As a result, we wanted to see if we could improve gluten-free bread quality to help celiac sufferers and those who chose to eat gluten-free.” Another common shortcoming of gluten-free bread is that it stales quickly.

Eggs showed a distinct impact on bread roll quality, increasing volume and cell elongation. The addition of eggs made the texture softer and helped maintain moisture and retard staling, which is important to maintain shelf life.

Such functional aspects represent a step forward, and the team explored consumer acceptance, too. “You can publish all the research you want, but if the consumer will not buy it, a product will not make it on the shelf,” Aramouni says.

General population consumers found the gluten-free product formulated with eggs highly acceptable and indicated a willingness to buy it. Acceptance among the celiac population was even better. “Inclusion of eggs definitely makes a critical difference in acceptability of gluten-free breads,” he says. “It’s the make-or-break for acceptability.”

Researchers predicted that the positive results seen for the gluten-free roll formula with eggs could have a big impact on development of similar baked foods.

While eggs were a part of the improved gluten-free formula, honey, sunflower seeds and sorghum flour were, too. All these ingredients together helped to make a good-tasting, good-quality gluten-free bread, according to the KSU researchers.

The team expected to have their final research published in the Journal of Food Science, IFT’s peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Aramouni’s work was supported by a grant from the American Egg Board. The board is funded by a national legislative checkoff program involving all egg production companies in the US with more than 75,000 layers, and it operates with oversight from the US Department of Agriculture.