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BAKERY

The Essential 11 Factors That Lead To The High Shelf Life Of A Bar Cake
Monday, 04 March, 2019, 14 : 00 PM [IST]
Akshit Gupta 
FnbNews When baking a bar cake there are several things one needs to put in mind to ensure that the shelf life of the cake is not compromised.

There are several factors that can determine how long the cake can last, with or without the refrigerator, before one completely shoves it down the trash. It's always a sad thing to see such delicacies go to waste after going through the hard work of preparing them. The cause of spoilage is due to the activities of microorganisms like mould, and maybe yeast in some cases. Generally, all that is done to increase the shelf life of these foods is reduce the activities of microorganisms.

Unlike most others cakes with a short shelf life, bar cakes take longer to get spoilt or change start and that is due to some special factors, which we will be discussing in this article. With the contents of this article, one can learn the new thing that came, increase the shelf life of cakes, and generally, baked food. Here are some of the factors responsible for the long shelf life of bar cakes:

1. Moisture content
The amount of water present in the cake can determine how long it will last. Water is needed by microorganisms to carry out their activities. When the cake is baked dried with very little water content left with it, the shelf life of the cake is bound to increase. The amount of moisture present after baking is determined by the baker and the method of baking used.

2. The environmental temperature
Generally, the temperature of the environment impacts the shelf life of the bar cake. Foods are kept in the refrigerator to ensure that the temperature is kept lower than the convenient temperature for microorganisms.

At low temperatures, the activities of microorganisms are greatly reduced, thereby increasing the shelf life of the cake. When baked, the heat of the oven kills most of the microorganisms with the exception of the heat-resistant microorganisms. The microorganisms that spoil food either germinate from the heat-resistant variants or germinate from spores. But one thing is sure, one can reduce the rate of spoilage by reducing temperature.

3. Exposure of the cake
It is often said that we should cover our good to prevent germs from intestine. On exposure food, and of course, cakes, could serve as rich medium for microorganisms to thrive and destroy whatever that delicious cake has to offer. By exposing the cake to the atmosphere, more CO2 is absorbed thereby increasing the pH and acidity of the food. Moreover, exposure to atmospheric oxygen promotes microbial activities. The level of packaging of the bar cake extends its shelf life in a lot of ways.

4. Presence of antioxidants
Bar cakes are usually baked with antioxidants to reduce the level of oxidation within the cake. Different microorganisms have different level of oxygen tolerance, by using antioxidants and reducing the redox potential. One other key function of antioxidants is that they reduce rancidity. Rancidity can be a major problem in bakery because it changes the taste of the baked product and produces a pungent smell out of it. Rancidity is caused by the oxidation of fat and oil. The use of antioxidants like flavonoids and vitamins C and E can reduce rancidity.

5. The quality of materials used
The quality of ingredients used in the baking of bar cake is as important as the quality of cake one intends to produce. The cake that is produced with inferior or expired ingredient is bound to have a short shelf life accompanied with a terrible taste and texture.

6. Composition of the ingredients
One may use the right quality of ingredients with the wrong requirements or nutritional value. The composition of the cake and the ingredients used have a lot to contribute to the shelf life of the cake. The use of natural source of nutrient may increase microbial activities and reduce shelf life. Microorganisms derive protein, lipids and carbohydrates from the different ingredients used. Meanwhile, the use of synthetic replacements can help reduce the rate of spoilage. The use of salt, for instance, can help reduce the water content of the cake because of its water binding capacity.

7. The nature of the cake
A bar cake is solid with very little water content. This promotes the long shelf life of the cake. The nature of composition of the cake has a lot to do with its shelf life. A pasty semisolid baked food will have a shorter shelf life than a solid bar cake. This is because a solid cake has very little micro spaces for microbes to move around.

8. The condiments used
Basically, fruit cakes and bar cakes have the longest shelf life because of the condiments used. Flavourings and chocolates used in the baking of bar cake help to absorb moisture and reduce the water content of the cake thereby increasing its shelf life.

9. Presence of competitive agents
Microbes flourish when there's no limiting factor to their growth. The use of other microbial agents that can compete with putrefying microbes will help to increase the shelf life of cake. These agents are harmless and FDA approved. These microbial agents are often bacteriophages, they are viruses that attack specific kinds of bacteria that cause spoilage of food.

10. Method of baking and preservation
The process of production or baking of the cake is an important determinant of its shelf life. To ensure a cake that will, minimum exposure should be taken to cognizance. The less hands and unsterilised equipment used in production, the less the possibility of contamination and spoilage. Packaging of the cake can also contaminate the cake and reduce the shelf life. Irradiation is often an effective way of ensuring that microbes to remain in the cake during packaging (at an industrial scale).

11. Preservatives and humectant
The use of preservatives and additives generally help extend the shelf life of cake by slowing down oxidation and microbial activities. Humectants, meanwhile, help to absorb moisture and reduce water content from the surrounding. Glycerol is a common humectant in the baking industry. Very good preservative used in baking bar cake is potassium sorbate & sorbic acid.

Benefits of Potassium Sorbate & Sorbic Acid
  • These are strong antifungal agents. It is a preservative to prevent the growth of mould in cakes and breads. Addition of these preservatives to baked food helps to increase shelf life by reducing mould and yeast growth.
  • It is an additive salt that also serves in filling the flour.
  • These ingredients do not alter the taste of the cake because it is odourless and tasteless.
  • These are completely safe for consumption.
  • They are also able to absorb moisture and limit spoilage.
(The author is director at Asha Ram and Sons Pvt. Ltd. He can be contacted at akshit@asharam.in)
 
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