PEORIA, Ill.—Corn bran, the fiber-rich outer layer of corn kernels, can be used as a substitute for up to 20% of the flour called for in white cake to increase fiber or reduce fat, according to a study published in the journal Biocatalysis and Agricultural Biotechnology.
In the tests aimed at cutting fat, and its calories—without sacrificing quality—researchers with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) substituted 20% of the flour called for in the American Association of Cereal Chemists' "gold standard" test recipe for white cake with corn bran.
Using 20% corn bran fiber didn't significantly impact qualities such as color or springiness (the unfrosted top surface of a good cake will spring back when gently touched). And, the 25 volunteer taste-tasters who sampled cake made with that amount of the fiber rated it as "acceptable." In taste-tester terminology, that counts as a vote of confidence.
One slice of an 8-inch, 6-slice, two-layer white cake made with 20% corn bran fiber would provide about 5 grams of fiber, compared to about 1 gram from a conventional white layer cake.
Researchers also worked with a patented, ARS-developed process that uses steam-jet cooking to encapsulate microdroplets of cooking oil (in this case, canola) with flour and water. The cream-textured mixture that results can then be dried to form a smooth-flowing, shelf-stable powder that offers busy bakers the convenience of not having to pour, measure or clean up any oil.
For this preliminary research, researchers used only 25% of the cooking oil called for in the gold-standard recipe. Cakes made with the flour-oil-water "composites" were softer and springier, and stayed moist longer, than cakes made with the same amount of nonencapsulated flour, oil and water.