As bakers, whether hobby bakers or professionals, we all like to experiment with different cake flavours. While there are quite a few ways to add it to your cakes, the most used and accessible is readymade flavour & extracts. There are many available in the market, and it might seem overwhelming to someone who has just started working with cake flavours. Recently we had a chat with Mrs Hema Chhabra and Mr Gurnish Singh Chhabra of Fab Flavours & Fragrances Ltd, a 100-years-old flavours company, to tell us all about what flavours are, the difference between natural, nature identical and artificial, how to use flavours correctly and the safety involved. Let’s read what Hema and Gurnish shared with us about Flavours.
Fab Flavours & Fragrances Ltd started as a Sher-I Punjab Trading company started in Rawalpindi in the year 1919. It was then re-established in New Delhi in 1950 after partition. In 1965, the company started Red Club for the manufacture of soft drink concentrates and then in 1993, it started manufacturing of food flavours mainly water-soluble flavours for Industrial use. On popular demand, the company then started Oil Soluble Flavours for the home bakers in 2010, Premium Oil Soluble flavours in 2016, Evaporex in 2017 and 100% Natural Extracts and 100% Natural Flavours in 2018.
What is baking or food flavour?
Flavour is a sensory impression, which is commonly misconceived as only tasted within your mouth. The most important component is the smell itself of the flavour. The tongue can only taste five flavours exclusively – sweet, salty, sour, bitter and salty. But with the addition of smell, the different flavours one can taste can go up to ten thousand. This is because the flavour that you taste in your brain comprises only 20% of the taste from your tongue, and 80% of it comes from the smells you smell.
Best practices for flavours sold in India
FSSAI Regulations allow for production and sale of cake flavours at an industrial scale. It requires that these brands follow the regulations strictly, and comply with good marketing practices. It is important to buy cake flavours from brands that have FSSAI certificates because that ensures the safety of the product.
Natural, Nature Identical and Artificial flavours
In naturally existing foods, there are over 7000 compounds. Of these, 1500 are flavouring substances, and since they are naturally present in foods, they fall under natural flavouring. It is created by extracting such compounds from the actual food product – whether it is a fruit, vegetable or animal fats. This category also includes natural extracts, which are derived naturally from flowers, herbs and spices. Even the solvent used in these flavours will be extracted from naturally occurring sources.
Nature identical flavours are those flavours which are chemically identical to natural flavours. However, they are not extracted directly from the naturally occurring source. They are derived from synthetic compounds but are no different in their composition from natural flavours. This is being preferred over artificial flavours in India, both by the consumer and producer.
However, we are all familiar with some flavours which taste very different from the real fruit or dish. For example, the banana flavouring in candies is very different from real bananas. There are around 400 such flavours which are not naturally occurring but are still sold as flavour extracts. These are artificial flavours.
One striking example of the difference in cake flavours is the vanilla flavour. Vanilla flavour, extract or essence is used by bakers widely, but the commonly sold essence is a cake flavour made up of the compound ethyl vanillin – which is not naturally occurring. The pure vanilla extract comprises of vanilla pods which are found within the vanilla bean. The naturally occurring flavour is less heat resistant and also less strong.
Are artificial flavours unsafe?
Public perception is that anything natural is good but anything labelled artificial is bad. The truth is, artificial flavours may very well be the better choice. This is because there can be a lot of discrepancy in the naturally occurring produce. The flavour cannot be standardized because the flavour will vary with crop seasons. There is also a risk of pesticides being used in the crop, pervading into the final product.
But in artificial flavours, the process and inputs are thoroughly regulated. Indian manufacturers often use the list of permitted chemicals from Europe and US, to ensure the highest safety standards. The production of flavours is also done in a highly controlled environment which ensures there is no contamination of any kind. However, the debate between natural and artificial products is an on-going one. There is enough scientific evidence to back claims of both sides. Rest assured, neither is unsafe to use and consume. The choice is yours, and some of the other factors to consider are the potency of flavour you are looking for, availability and cost of the product.
How to use flavours
Flavours are an integral part of the food you eat. It makes the food more enjoyable and appealing. Two main reasons to use flavours are standardizing your products as a home baker, and to enhance the products. By standardization, it means that if you are making a fruit flavoured mousse or cake, using a flavour extract will ensure that your cake tastes the same every time you make it. If you make the strawberry mousse, you do not have to depend on the strawberry season to make it. Even during the season, the products available might be really good one day and average on the other. You will be able to make it year-round without relying on fresh produce if you use flavour extracts.
Enhancement is the other reason. Suppose you are making banana bread, the use of overripe bananas itself will add some flavour to the dish. But using just a dash of banana flavour extract will elevate the entire dish because it adds a stronger flavour. This applies to the various desserts that you want to make. Even the simple vanilla flavour extract is needed because of its ability to cancel out the egg flavours in your desserts, as well as add a hint of sweetness and aroma.
Types of flavours
Cake flavours in India come in a few variants, but the most common is water and oil-soluble flavours. The best cake flavour, for its versatility, is the oil-soluble flavour. The Fab Flavours regular line (which is oil soluble) works for all kinds of products, whether it is for baking or non-baking products. The only limitation one might face is in using it for mocktails and cocktails since they are heavily water-based. A good way to overcome this issue is to finely mix the flavour in with the other components of the drink like sugar. Premium Oil Soluble flavours are another type of cake flavour sold in the market, which is made with more premium ingredients such as MCT solvents. The most important aspect here is that the flavour profiles are more rich and enhanced. A simple orange flavour will have notes of orange, but a premium flavour will have more citrus and rind notes, making it more delectable.
There are also natural extracts (which are made directly from the plant) and natural oil-soluble flavours which are flavours and not directly sourced from the plant.
1. What is the best kind of essence for chocolates?
Oil-soluble flavours are recommended for use in chocolates as water-soluble may cause the chocolate to seize. So our recommendation is to use oil-soluble flavours for chocolates.
2. What are the differences between flavour, extract and essence?
The industry uses various names to describe cake flavours, whether it is extracts or essences. The term flavour can be used interchangeably for essence because it denotes artificial flavours, but cannot be used interchangeably with extract since extract denotes a natural extracting from products.
3. What is the difference between chocolate oils and essences?
Chocolate oils are nothing but oil-soluble essences/flavours or natural oil-soluble extracts, depending on whether they are artificially or naturally produced.
4. What is Evaporex from Fab Flavours?
Evaporex is a non-alcoholic, halal-certified product to be used for painting and airbrushing on cakes covered with fondant, buttercream, cream and chocolate ganache. It is an ideal product to use on frostings as it evaporates without leaving any wetness. It can be used with all kinds of edible colours and lustre dust. The main ingredient of evaporex is isopropyl alcohol.
5. What is Apura Spreads?
As a collaboration between the owners of Fab Flavours, Madhav Enterprises (owner of bakingcart.com) and Sharon Foods, Apura Premium Spreads contain a high content of natural fruit powders/nuts/natural spices & herbs blended with palm kernel oil, sugar and milk solids to make delicious spreads.
These spreads can be used in frostings like buttercream, dairy creams, non-dairy creams, ganache etc. They can also be used to centre fill chocolates and can be added to cake/brownies batters before baking as they are heat stable also. These can also be added to your ice creams and milkshakes or you can just spread them on a slice of bread and eat it.
It has a shelf life of 9 months and does not require refrigeration.
6. Should I prefer natural over artificial cake flavours?
It all comes down to personal preference. Natural extracts cost more than artificial flavours. Another important thing to remember is for many flavours, the potency of the flavour is stronger in the artificial essence rather than the extract. So you will need to use a slightly larger quantity of the natural product. The important thing to remember is both the products are safe to use.
7. What is the difference in the strength of water and oil soluble?
It is very different. Water-soluble essences are much less potent and you will require a much higher quantity of it than the oil-soluble range. This is because water-soluble essence is created for commercial purposes and even comes in half litre packets. It is up to you to decide which you prefer using, but the oil-soluble range always packs a punch and you need a very small amount of it.
That is all about Baking Flavours. To keep getting inspired, do not miss out to get the latest updates on our events, blogs and newsletters on https://homebakers.co.inClick here to find online baking and cake decorating classes.