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How do you measure freshness in cakes?

24 Jun 2023

Cake and sponge mixes
Sensory Analysis

Cécile Petit, Puratos's R&D Sensory Manager, highlights the importance of measuring freshness and sensory evaluation in cake development. Expert sensory judges assess freshness properties, while preference tests with the Sensobus capture consumer perception. Collaborate with Puratos to optimize freshness and profitability using modular cake ingredients.

Meet Cécile Petit, the R&D Sensory Manager at Puratos Headquarters in Belgium. With over 18 years of expertise in Sensory & Consumer Sciences, including 16 years in the food industry, she leads the sensory analysis team and lab. Cécile plays a pivotal role in developing Sensory Analysis within the Puratos Group and ensures adherence to internal guidelines and best practices. 

In this interview, Cécile sheds light on the importance of measuring freshness and the role of sensory evaluation in cake development:

Why is it important to measure freshness?

We measure freshness while developing long shelf life cakes to ensure they maintain their freshness characteristics throughout their shelf-life. Occasionally, customers may have specific requirements regarding cake texture. In such cases, the goal may be to achieve a certain level of moistness, reduce crumbliness, or enhance the short bite. Measuring freshness allows us to assess our progress in meeting these objectives, providing valuable insights for future product development.

Why do we need sensory evaluation?

We require sensory measurements to complement our analytical results. Unlike machines, humans cannot always perceive texture parameters accurately, nor can machines fully replicate the way we touch and eat a cake. Therefore, evaluating Cake Freshness necessitates a blend of mechanical and organoleptic methods. Mechanically, we use instruments to measure cake hardness, resiliency, and cohesiveness.

However, certain parameters like cohesiveness and resiliency do not always exhibit a direct logical correlation between sensory and instrumental measurements from the texturometer. In particular, important factors like moistness cannot be directly measured instrumentally. Hence, we continue to conduct both sensory and instrumental measurements in tandem to assess cake freshness comprehensively.

How do you make sensorial evaluations of the different parameters of freshness ?

At Puratos, our expert sensory judges conduct sensorial analysis of cake freshness, performing tactile and gustatory evaluations. These highly trained individuals possess the ability to objectively measure a cake's freshness properties.

Softness is assessed through touch, while moistness is evaluated by feeling the product's dryness and humidity levels. Additionally, sensory judges taste and assess the cake in their mouths to gauge its moistness. To measure cohesiveness, judges touch and take a few bites of the cake, observing how well it holds together or crumbles.

What about the consumer’s perception of freshness, how do you involve them in your testing?

Consumers lack the expertise of our expert judges, making it challenging for them to articulate and evaluate their sensations accurately. Due to this, they often struggle to distinguish texture from flavor, limiting the usefulness of asking them about specific freshness parameters.

Instead, we conduct consumer preference tests using our Sensobus, a powerful sensory mobile lab. Positioned in high-traffic areas, like supermarket parking lots, it efficiently gathers feedback from up to 200 consumers daily. By comparing cake samples with and without our cake freshness enhancer, Acti-Fresh, we can demonstrate that consumers significantly prefer the enhanced samples. This valuable data helps us fine-tune our products to meet consumer preferences effectively.

How do you work together with your customers for sensorial evaluation?

Our expert panel serves as a valuable tool for internal development, but we also prioritize our customers' briefs. Sensorial analysis plays a crucial role in verifying that our objectives are met. For instance, we use it to ensure that our cake freshness enhancer improves the freshness level of a cake. Additionally, we compare different Acti-Fresh offers to select the one that precisely meets our customers' needs and preferences.

Interested in learning more about our cake freshness solutions or enhancing the freshness and profitability of your specific cake recipes? Get in touch with us for more information.