PUMPKIN PIE FILLING RESEARCH STUDY
Even as health and wellness trends abound in most other food categories, consumer interest in pies and cakes has not waned. The largest portion of sales is driven by private label brands, representing 38 percent of the market. While there is an increase in seasonal pie consumption during the holiday season, the trend toward more snacking has Americans wanting more indulgent options year round. To keep growing in the category, manufacturers will need to continue to innovate with fresh flavors, convenient packaging and single-serve portion sizes that appeal to today’s consumers.
The changes to pie fillings with reduced egg content were noticeable. The sensory evaluation results from panelists on the organoleptic attributes of the pie fillings tested were generally consistent with the findings of the objective analytical test results.
The areas of pie filling quality most negatively affected when eggs are removed and/or replaced, included unbaked filling viscosity, baked pie appearance and firmness.
Attributes where differences among Test samples were minimal included height, color, aroma and filling smoothness. Tasters unanimously preferred the Control to the Test formulas. Its aroma and flavor won panelists’ approval as the most acceptable pumpkin pie filling. With neither eggs nor egg replacing ingredients, the pie filling was found to be different from Control in multiple ways: it was thinner both before and after baking, exemplifying that eggs function to thicken and set pie fillings. It was also muted in aroma and flavor, demonstrating eggs’ ability to amplify flavor perception. These results imply that pie fillings made without eggs or egg replacers may be unappealing to consumers.
Pumpkin Pie Filling Visual Comparison
Made with REAL EGGS
Made with EGG REPLACERS*
For this study, eggs were reduced and/or removed from pumpkin pie filling formulas and replaced with commercial egg replacer products at the manufacturers’ suggested rates. The recommended whole egg replacement for pie fillings ranged from 50 to 100 percent. Six of the eight manufacturers recommended removing 100 percent of the whole eggs from pie filling formulas.
Eight egg replacer ingredients were tested in pie filling formulas. Those tested included:
- Blends of various ingredients, including starches, proteins, leaveners, emulsifiers, enzymes and hydrocolloids
- Citrus Fiber
- Dairy Protein
The mixing method can be as important as selecting ingredients in a formula. Pie filling is typically mixed in one stage, with the primary objectives being ingredient distribution and hydration. Excessive mixing may incorporate too much air, resulting in undesirable bubbles.
The pies were all prepared in the same conditions, in the same model equipment and on the same day. Consistent batching, mixing, portioning and cooking procedures were used to limit variables. Baking times were neither adjusted nor optimized for each Test formula, instead a standardized time and temperature setting was used to ensure each Test saw the same conditions. The filling viscosity test was performed immediately after mixing, while all other tests were done after the pies were baked and cooled on the following day.
The pumpkin pie filling samples were evaluated as follows:Analytical Tests:
- Filling viscosity
- Height & shape
- Interior color
- Overall commentary
*This photo represents only 1 of 8 egg replacer products.