The key to producing bakery foods with attractive icings and glazes is formulating a balance between sugar, water and temperature. High-volume bakers can control the temperature and humidity within a bakery, but once a glaze-laden donut or icing-topped cookie leaves the bakery, open-air climate can change appearance. By using stabilizers in icings and glazes, bakers can improve the appearance of their donuts, cookies and other bakery foods.
High-volume bakers typically generate icings and glazes within the bakery. According to one gum manufacturer, correct moisture levels and temperature need to be retained during processing to create consistent icings and glazes.
To maintain consistent performance, bakers can use certain gums to help icings and glazes accommodate changes products encounter when traveling from the bakery to the consumer. Agar is a well-known gum in the baking industry and is ideal for making shelf-stable icings and glazes. Extracted from seaweed, agar resists temperature fluctuations. The gum extends shelf life, improves icing and glaze texture and glossiness, and reduces moisture loss. It also reinforces the soft film that encloses icing to reduce cracking.
Depending on the desired texture, icing and glaze formulations require low gum concentrations. The typical usage level is lower than 1%, one gum manufacturer says.
Controlling water within icing affects the balance between the two major ingredients: sugar solids and saturated sugar syrup. To produce the ideal icing, one gum stabilizer manufacturer suggests several points for in-house icing production. When using agar it is important to boil it in water for two to five minutes. This process ensures agar's complete function and hydration, one gum stabilizer manufacturer says. If boiling temperature (212ºF) is not reached, icing may slide off bakery foods such as donuts or cookies during production or packaging.
Another important step for icing production is adding powdered sugar to the saturated sugar syrup. If the formulation becomes too hot, the sugar solids dissolve, which makes icing watery. Powdered sugar should be added below 160ºF. During bakery food production, icing temperature should be maintained between 110ºF to 150ºF. If the temperature increases above 150ºF, sugar solids dissolve, and if the temperature decreases below 110ºF, the icing begins to set.
To ensure icing sets correctly, an adequate drying time should be established. Drying time should last between 30 seconds to five minutes. Drying time depends on the amount of emulsifiers, hard fats and stabilizer systems used in the icing. Drying time speeds up when calcium sulfates or calcium carbonate salts are used in icing, one gum manufacturer says.
A delicate balance between moisture and temperature dictates how attractive icings and glazes look on top of bakery foods. The freezing and thawing process puts stress on gums and other ingredients within the icings and glazes, one stabilizer manufacturer says.
"Agar works great in typical icing formulations if you were just making a shelf-stable glaze," one gum stabilizer manufacturer says. "If you are making glaze for freeze/thaw products it is a hard one to crack."
One gum stabilizer manufacturer produces a blend that protects icings and glazes from the harsh conditions of the freezing and thawing process. The manufacturer's blend uses different emulsifiers and hydrocolloids to form a lipophilic barrier around the icings and glazes. The barrier prevents water migration because it is "fat loving," the gum stabilizer manufacturer says. For example glaze can repel water as it attempts to leave a donut.
When using gum stabilizers and correct water and temperature levels, icings and glazes can weather the elements outside of the bakery.