Bakers want to develop healthy cookies with large inclusions that remain intact during the extrusion and forming process.

Keeping it all-inclusive

Maintaining the integrity of larger nuts, chocolate chips and other inclusions provides a premium point of differentiation. “We have seen an increased interest from bakers to develop healthy cookies with large inclusions where they want the size of those inclusions to remain intact during the extrusion and forming process and be visible in the finish product,” noted Cesar Zelaya, bakery sales and technology manager, Handtmann Inc.

He pointed out that the company’s vane cell technology gently handles inclusions and particulates in cookie dough. Handtmann also developed the FS-520 multilane forming system for 3D shapes such as spheres, cylinders and ovals. It operates a servo motor rotating a multiple-plate system. The FS-520 can also be equipped to produce co-extruded treats.

Consumers continue to demand upscale cookies with a homemade appearance. Reading offers slab lines that produce frozen square-shaped cookie dough pieces. According to Mr. Pallottini, the system sheets the cookie dough to give it a uniform thickness, then cuts it into slabs and again into squares before freezing. “The consumer then bakes the square cookies at home,” he explained. “This frozen dough process enables the manufacturer to minimize the work put into the dough and use large inclusions without tearing the sheet.”

Overall, many challenging ingredients depend on special handling to achieve the desired final product characteristics. “Inclusions such as whole candy pieces, fruit pieces or whole nuts require special feed systems to prevent breakage and achieve the deposit accuracy,” Mr. Parrish pointed out. The popularity of gluten-free cookies requires very sticky doughs to be processed at certain temperatures and food contact surfaces on equipment to be made with materials that have a very low coefficient of friction. “These doughs benefit from using the lowest extrusion pressure possible and gentle handling to maintain the consistency,” he explained. “The final dough piece is typically cut using a high-frequency oscillating wire to ensure a clean cut in many difficult doughs with particulates.”

When inclusions run through most soft dough machines, they tend to build up and smear on the scrapers of rotary moulders or plug up the nozzles of depositors, Mr. Graham advised. “However, wire-cuts can be specified with a gap between the feed rolls that is wide enough for even the largest inclusions to pass through without damage,” he said. “The wire itself would normally be replaced by a high-frequency oscillating knife to cut through the inclusions and ensure cutting consistency and depositing accuracy.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Giacoio suggested using extruders to handle inclusions in fillings or the cookie dough. “Our extruders are so gentle on particulates we actually have customers using our machines to make cookies without fillings just because the system doesn’t crush the particulates,” he said. “Because of the design of the Rheon machine, sticky materials don’t pose any problems. The machines were designed to work with materials as sticky as caramel.”

Learn how to avoid allergen issues in the next segment.