Cake Emulsifiers and Improvers


1. What is the PentaCake? Is it a preservative? Does it replace the preservatives? Why do we have to add sorbate? Isn't it enough to put sorbate only?


PentaCake is not a preservative and it does not replace it. PentaCake is a multifunctional additive, contributing to the characteristics of the cake in all levels: volume, texture, softness, humidity, microbial stability and so on. Sorbate is active only in the antimicrobial level (mold growth inhibition) and has no influence on the other levels. The sorbate preservative is not included in the PentaCake. Therefore, the manufacturer has the opportunity to decide whether or not to use it and in which concentration (reducing or omitting the sorbate would shorten the shelf-life period, in the microbial aspect). However, PentaCake has also an influence on the effectiveness of the sorbate, due to the synergy between them.

2. What is the shelf-life of the final cake, while using the PentaCake?


The shelf-life of the cake is mainly determined by the following factors: (1) type and quality of the raw materials used (mainly the fat types and quality), (2) baking conditions, (3) sanitary conditions, (4) packaging, (5) storage conditions, (6) amount of added sorbate (in some countries the allowed amount is lower than the 0.2% of the EU/US), (7) modifications in the recommended cake recipes (if done). Generally, while the conditions are optimal, the shelf-life of most of the final cake ranges between 3-6 months, while in some cases the shelf life is even more than one year. On the other hand, in improper conditions (mostly - insufficient baking or poor hygienic conditions) the shelf life may be even less than one month. Thus, every cake factory has to determine the shelf-life of the cakes by itself, according to its own conditions and criterions of shelf-life. As a policy, we do not officially give any guarantee for the final cakes shelf life.

3. What is the PentaCake contribution to the shelf life extension?


During the cake shelf life, there is a competition between two main spoilage mechanisms: microbial (mainly moulds) and physical (dryness / hardness / crumbliness). The key factor is the cake humidity, which is mainly determined by the cake baking time. There is a narrow range of humidities, which enable having soft and humid cakes on the one hand, but without moulds, on the other hand. In case that the cake is baked too short time, moulds may appear and in case that the cake is baked too long time, it may become hard, dry and crumbly. The main difficulty for the industrial cake developer is that the undesired characteristics (e.g., dryness / hardness / crumbliness or moulds) sometimes appear only after few weeks/months. I.e., the cake apparently remains clean of moulds, soft and humid, for couple of weeks and only afterwards, the deterioration sharply begins. The key advantage of the PentaCake improvers is the ability to widen the said narrow "slot", by improving the cake softness and humidity along with increasing its microbial stability (together with the preservatives, which are being added externally).

4. What are the relationships between the baking conditions and the shelf life of the cakes?


We consider the baking conditions as the most important issue during the cake development trials and during the mass commercial cake production.

Sometimes, while carrying out trials with the PentaCake, the operator sets the oven temperature to a certain temperature (e.g., 170°C) and the oven screen apparently shows that indeed this is the temperature inside the oven. Frequently, the set temperature and the temperature shown on the oven screen are completely different from the real temperature measured inside the oven.

Thus, we strongly recommend measuring the real interior temperature by an independent analog oven-resistant thermometer. If the temperature is lower (e.g., 140°C-150°C), and the baking time is not elongated accordingly, the cake will be too humid. During the cake storage, the water would migrate from the interior of the cake to its surface, which would develop a "pudding texture" after a while. Then, there are chances that mold would shortly appear.

On the contrary, while baking in too high temperatures, the cake apparently looks ready and well browned after a short baking time, and then taken out from the oven. However, the interior remains wet, and, again, the above mentioned phenomenon may occur. Accordingly, in every trial with the PentaCake, it is recommended to bake a few cakes in different baking times.

5. What is the effect of the sorbic acid or the potassium sorbate ratios on the shelf life of the cakes?


In the recommended cake recipes for the implementation of the PentaCake, we recommend the usage of sorbate as a preservative.

The default values in the cake recipes are 0.18% Sorbic acid or 0.24% potassium sorbate, which were calculated according to a limitation of 2000 ppm sorbates in the final baked product.

In some countries, the maximum sorbate limit is smaller. Then, there is need to compensate this lack of preservative by other means. The sorbate is mostly active in acidic conditions. Thus, while its concentration is low, there is need to increase its effectiveness by increasing the acidity of the cake (i.e., reducing its pH). This can be done by the addition of acetic acid. Additionally, elongation of the baking time reduces the water activity of the cake and improves its microbial stability.

6. How to determine the right baking time?


The baking time depends on various parameters, like cake size, heat transfer in the oven, oven humidity and so on. Thus, it cannot be determined in advance. The most important thing while conducting trials is to keep cake samples from different baking times. It is required in order to find the right baking time which gives soft and humid cakes on the one hand, but without moulds on the other hand. As a rough rule of thumb, the cake should be taken from the oven while it has golden-brown color, also in its center. If the cake center is still white, the baking is insufficient.

7. How to reduce the specific gravity (SG) of the cake batter?


In order to reduce the batter SG, various methods should be tested: 

  • Increasing the PentaCake Gel content . 
  • Increasing or decreasing the mixing time, mainly in the last stage. Too short or too long mixing time may negatively affect the SG. The easiest way to determine the mixing time is to conduct a trial with 10 minute mixing in the last stage, while checking the SG in 2-3 minute intervals. The sample with the lowest SG determines the optimum mixing time. 
  • Reducing the batter temperature to the lowest possible. It can be done by using ice flakes instead of water and using semi-frozen eggs. 
  • Increasing the egg content on the account of the water/ice.

8. What is the importance of the cake batter aeration? How to reach it? What is the target batter specific gravity (SG)?


The cake raising during baking is a result of two different mode of actions: (1) chemical leavening (leavening agents), (2) Batter aeration. Proper cake raising might be achieved even in case of chemical leavening only, without any batter aeration. The SG in this case is around 1. It is common mainly in the case of muffins and pound cakes. Without batter aeration, normally the cake texture is open (i.e., big holes) and the surface is with “hill” shape (not flat). The leavening agents are embodied in the PentaCake improvers (specifically balanced for each cake category). Once batter aeration is involved, the SG normally ranges between 0.4-0.8. Then, the cake is much fluffier and spongier, the internal texture is closer (i.e., small holes) and more uniform, and the cake surface is flatter. Batter aeration contributes to all types of cakes (including muffins, cupcakes and pound cakes), but mainly to sponge cakes (including custard cakes, layer cakes and Swiss Rolls). The batter aeration (and accordingly the SG reduction) can be achieved by using the PentaCake Gel and/or by margarine whipping or separated egg whipping. Continuous turbo mixers also play a significant role in the batter aeration.

9. Is it possible to use the PentaCake Gel emulsifiers in production using a turbo mixer?


The PentaCake Gel 8100 is targeted for usage in both types of mixers, planetary mixers and continuous turbo mixers. The PentaCake Gel 8100 uniqueness in the case of turbo mixers is its ability to aerate the batter in the aeration chamber only, without significant aeration in the pre-mixer, which might interfere with the mixing process.

10. What is the relevancy of propylene glycol regulatory limitations to the PentaCake Gel?


The PentaCake Gel items contain propylene glycol as a solvent: 10% in the PentaCake Gel 8100 type and 8% in the PentaCake Gel 8050 type. In the EU, there is a limitation of propylene glycol usage ratio. It is allowed to exist in a ratio of 0.1% of the final product, while serving as a solvent of emulsifiers. While bringing into account maximum 10% water evaporation during baking, in plain cakes, the maximum allowance of the PentaCake Gel in the EU is 0.9% for PentaCake Gel 8100 or 1.1% for PentaCake Gel 8050. In case that the cake contains toppings, coatings, inclusions, fillings, etc., the usage ratio of the PentaCake Gel can be increased according to the proportions of the plain cake and the "extras". The indicated calculations do not bring into account the existence of propylene glycol carried by other sources in the recipe, such as flavorings.

11. What is the allowed time for the cake batter to rest before baking?


There is no definite answer. It varies from formula to formula and it depends also on the general conditions. Normally, the reasonable resting time is between 15-45 minutes. Batters with high specific gravity are more "watery" and the possible resting time is shorter than aerated ones, which are more stable. Batters with higher temperatures are usually less stable than cold ones.

12. In cake recipes with acetic acid, is it possible to use citric acid instead?


Both acetic acid and citric acid have contribution to the pH reduction, which improves the sorbate effectiveness. However, the acetate ion has additional anti-microbial effects, which the citrate doesn't have. Thus, such exchange between them will weaken the microbial preservation. In case that the smell of the acetic acid is a concern, there might be a possibility to use a 10% solution, which will be used in a 10 fold higher ratio than the original recipe. The added water content should be reduced accordingly.

13. How to make the ''crown'' of muffins and pound-cakes more dominant?


  • Increasing the baking temperature. 
  • Reducing the baking humidity, by further opening of the chimneys. 
  • Increasing the batter specific gravity. However, the internal texture might be more open. 
  • Increase in the flour content, on the sugar account. However, the softness of the cake might be affected.

14. Can we use in the cakes egg powder instead of fresh eggs?


Fresh egg might be substituted by egg powder. 100 parts of egg can be replaced by 75 parts water and 25 parts egg powder. The resulted cakes might be slightly inferior in terms of volume or texture. There might be also a slight off-flavor of the egg powder.

15. Is it possible to produce eggless cakes (egg free cakes) using the PentaCake?


Yes, normally 100 parts of egg can be replaced by 75 parts water and 25 parts whey protein concentrate 75%. In case that the resulted cake color is too dark, the invert sugar should be omitted.

16. Is the PentaCake suitable for cakes without sugar?


It is possible to convert most of our formulas to no-sugar cakes. As a rule of thumb, the sugar in the cake should be replaced with Maltitol and Sorbitol. Normally, each part of sugar can be substituted by 0.75 parts Maltitol powder and 0.25 parts Sorbitol powder. Additionally, Acesulfam K should be added in a ratio of about 0.05% of the total batter (subject to your local regulations).

17. Can the PentaCake be used for gluten-free cakes?


In part of the cake formulas, the flour can be substituted by a combination of potato starch and tapioca starch. In general, each part of flour can be substituted by 0.8 parts potato starch and 0.2 parts tapioca starch. It might be needed to conduct further amendments in the formula, such as reduction of the water content and increase of the egg content. Also the baking conditions should be re-calibrated, in order to avoid cake dryness.

18. Besides the general technological guidance for the PentaCake implementation, do you also give technological support for specific requirements?


Our interest is that the cake manufacturers would implement the PentaCake in their products 100% successfully. Thus, we are opened to give technological guidance to any specific requirement of industrial bakeries. Further information is available in the Technological Services section of this web-site.

19. Is the formula for pound cakes the same as the one for muffins/cupcakes?


Yes, normally the batter for the muffins is the same as for pound cakes (300-450g). Therefore, usually, there is no need for making any changes in the cake recipe. Naturally, the baking time will be shorter for muffins (20-30 minutes) and longer for pound cakes (35-50 minutes).

20. We have our own traditional cake recipes. How can we adopt the PentaCake without totally changing the unique characteristics of our products?


Start from our PentaCake basic cake recipe and add your unique flavorings and supplements. If part of your supplements is in a liquid form (e.g., condensed milk, honey, yogurt, apple sauce, fruit juices, etc.), reduce the amount of water accordingly, while taking care that the final thickness of the batter will be remained as in the original cake. Always bake also a reference cake exactly as recommended in our cake recipe. As a part of our technological support, Pentaor provides also tailor-made formulary services, for the ones who are interested in recipe modifications and adaptations.

21. While carrying out laboratory experiments using the PentaCake, what oven shall be used? What are the most important parameters?


The laboratory experiments shall imitate the real conditions of industrial baking - generally, tunnel oven, "Auto-Bake" oven or convection rack oven. Therefore, the experimental baking can be even done in a small turbo oven. While making the baking experiments, there is need to care for the following:

  • To preheat the oven about 30 minutes before baking - in order to ensure proper heat homogeneity.
  • To put the cakes onto a "grill" shelf, and not onto an integral tray.
  • To load only one shelf in the oven (unlike in the industrial ovens).
  • And, most important - to bake in the right baking time.

22. Is the PentaCake relevant and suitable also for small bakeries, caterings and other foodservice businesses?

The PentaCake improves the quality of the cake either in "time zero" (i.e., while the cake is fresh) or during the entire storage period of the cake. However, the PentaCake is distributed only to mass industrial cake factories and not to artisanal bakeries (minimum PentaCake commercial order: 1000 Kg).

23. Is the PentaCake suitable for bread, doughnuts, croissant and other yeast/dough based products?


The PentaCake was especially formulated for battercakes and related products. At the moment, there is no availability of PentaCake types for heavy doughs.

24. Is the PentaCake suitable for cakes with fillings or toppings, wedding cakes, cheese cakes and so on?


The PentaCake is destined to be used in most types of battercakes and certain sponge cake types, but it is targeted only to the batter/dough fraction. The filling/topping fraction has to be treated separately, mainly in case that it is humid.

25. What is the most suitable package for the cakes?


The most recommended types are PE+BOPP+Aluminum laminate or metalized polyethylene. However, even while using a non-optimal packing material, the PentaCake slightly compensates the inferiority of the package and elongates the shelf-life (however, the shelf-life would be shorter).

26. How is the PentaCake packaged?


The PentaCake improvers are packaged in 15-25 Kg cartons with PE bags and the PentaCake Gel is packaged in 18 Kg plastic buckets.

27. Is the PentaCake Kosher and Halal certified?

The PentaCake products are Kosher Parve, under the supervision of the Israeli Rabbinate and Halal Certified under the supervision of The Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA). Part of the PentaCake products are also available under the "Badatz Eda Haredit Jurusalem" supervision (special production).

Disclaimer: The information in this section is based on our experience and is given as gratuitous advises which must be specifically verified before any industrial implementation. No guarantee is given to the applicability of the indicated technological suggestions. Pentaor will not be liable for any usage or misusage of the recommendations laid herein.