AMF mixer
Many mixers collect data to improve the operator’s knowledge of the process, resulting in a dedicated operating recipe for each item.

KANSAS CITY — In the universe of baking, a cosmos of theories abound. Take mixing, where special relativity exists between time and temperature. Certainly, a constellation of factors influence this primal relationship, with heat, friction and even water absorption contributing to the condition of the final dough.

If these key variables fall even a few degrees out of whack, they can send a high-volume operation, such as a line that produces 1,000 buns a minute, spiraling out of control.

“If you can’t hit the proper temperatures, then you’re going to struggle with the dough sticking in the divider or the rounding belt or elsewhere on the line,” noted Terry Bartsch, vice-president of sales for Shaffer, a Bundy Baking Solution. “If the dough hits the right temperature in mixing, it increases the odds that the dough will run smoothly down the line.”

Of course, nearly everyone agrees the simplest, most effective solution involves using chilled or cold water, ranging from 34 degrees to 38 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fortunately, over the years, mixer manufacturers working in collaboration with a variety of bread and roll bakers developed a multitude of mitigating tools, gentle dough handling designs and cooling attachments. Shaffer, for instance, relies on a refrigerated agitator for effective cooling because the apparatus contacts a greater mass of the dough during the mixing process than other options, said Mr. Bartsch.

“Adding a refrigerated agitator along with a glycol bowl jacket and agitator, we’ve been able to lower the dough temperature anywhere from 4 to 6 (degrees) F,” he said.

That’s especially critical with a sponge-and-dough operation.

“When you have a 70-to-80 F sponge coming back to the mixer, and it’s 40 to 60% of your dough mass, the only way to obtain the proper dough temperature is to provide the most refrigeration options as possible,” Mr. Bartsch explained.

In other cases, such as with straight doughs, a glycol cooling jacket may offer enough refrigeration. For frozen dough or high-absorption slack doughs for making products such as English muffins, a refrigerated breaker bar or a refrigerated agitator can do the trick.