By Maureen Akins, M.S., Food Scientist

When it comes to baked goods, the glaze is the literal icing on the cake, while fillings for goods like donuts, pastries and cookies are considered by many consumers to be the jackpot of a dessert or snack. However, food processors can find themselves in a sticky situation if glazes and fillings are not formulated properly. A stable glaze or filling depends on several parameters, such as the pH of a solution, the available water content, the amount of solids, and the processing conditions of the product, among others. If any of those factors are out of balance, major problems can occur, whether it is cracking on the surface, boil-out of the filling or emulsion separation.

The addition of certain gums to bakery fillings and glazes can help prevent or minimize such issues. For one thing, gums aid in moisture retention and can manage water activity in a formulation. This property of gums allows forexcellent freeze-thaw stability of finished products and prevents surface cracking.

Gums also vary in their pH sensitivity. Some gums work well with low-pH formulations, for example, while others marry well with products with higher pH levels. As such, gums are versatile in their applications. Indeed, another benefit of using gums is their flexibility and the sheer range of available forms. For food processors looking to increase the viscosity of a filling or glaze, a combination of Guar Gum and Locust Bean Gum, such as TIC Pretested® Caragum 200, can accomplish that objective. If a filling or glaze is to be clear, TIC Pretested® Pre-Hydrated® Ticalose® CMC 2500 can be applied without loss in clarity of the product. For products that must gel properly without boil-out, such as pastry fillings or fruit fillings for nutrition bars, Tica-Algin® HG-400 or Ticacel MC HV would be appropriate. Beyond those examples, there are several other hydrocolloid blends that can enhance a filling or glaze.

As with other food formulations, the choice of a gum to be used in a particular bakery filling or glaze truly depends on the product and processing conditions. Certain questions must be asked first.

■ What is the moisture level of a filling?
■ What is its pH level?
■ Will this be a freeze-thaw product for users?

Once those and other important and relevant parameters are determined, gums can be applied, tested, and eventually used as a key ingredient