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Mar 312010
 

From Green Right Now Reports

We’d all like to have our cake, and eat it too.  But while that’s impossible, it may soon be true that we can eat our cake with fewer calories and have it taste as good.

Possibly.

The USDA’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria is developing cake mixes that zap fat and calories, but without stripping the dessert of its flavor and texture.

What a cake! This is not a low-fat or FANTESK cake but is made with local and sustainable ingredients by True Confections in the Bay Area.

What a cake! This is not a low-fat or FANTESK cake but is made with local and sustainable ingredients by True Confections in the Bay Area.

The key is a product called FANTESK – which a USDA news report describes as “microdroplets of trans-fat free cooking oil, encapsulated in corn starch or wheat flour”. FANTESK was patented by the USDA in the mid 1990s and has been used as a coating for shrimp and as lubricants in medical applications. See more on it’s history at this USDA webpage.

To foodies who just want the chemists to stay away from our fruits, vegetables and grains, it will all sound a little suspicious. But according to the research center in Peoria, low-fat cake mixes made with FANTESK don’t need added oil and they still produce cakes that have volume and a pleasing texture.

Food technologist Mukti Singh and chemical engineer Jeffrey Byars are also creating frostings that have half the fat of regular buttercream icing, but still taste great – or so the USDA reports.

The USDA hopes that such a development would be helpful in fighting obesity. But FANTESK cakes have yet to be tested on the open market (which explains why we have a picture of a regular, and luscious, cake, above). And while the consumer market is clearly hungry for low-fat foods, the promise of getting a free junk food fix has, in the past, exceeded the delivered, chemically concocted product.

Remember Olestra – the fat substitute that raised hopes we could have Cheetoes without consequences? Turns out the downside – let’s just call it gastrointestinal upset — was significant. Olestra lost its luster. So good luck USDA, but we’ll have to wait for the evidence before we declare FANTESK fantastic.