Baked foods that are mass-produced on large equipment still require a certain measure of TLC. This couldn’t be truer when depositing batters that contain a lot of particulates, especially when they’re heading into a small pan or container.
To keep the batter moving and inclusions intact, timing is everything, especially for cake-style products. For example, leavening agents in the batter generate carbon dioxide, and as it sits in a depositor’s hopper, it can lose aeration. A longer path to the depositor can also affect the batter temperature, and that can impact the deposit, as well.
Lance Aasness, executive vice-president, Hinds-Bock, said the equipment supplier remains dedicated to designing depositors that utilize large product flow paths and smooth blended internal radii.
“This ensures that fruit pieces will not break or bleed into the batter or get crushed when depositing fruit filling into pie or tart shells or when topping fruit Danishes,” he said.
Additionally, Handtmann designs its depositing equipment to avoid unnecessary temperature increases caused by the process itself. By shortening the path from the hopper to the discharge, as well as with gentle handling, the batter avoids friction that naturally increases the temperature.
“Every time you have product travel inside a piece of equipment, there’s friction,” said Cesar Zelaya, bakery sales and technology manager, Handtmann. “So, having less distance will create less of that. Our short product path minimizes the temperature rise, eliminating the need to chill or freeze chocolate chips, berries or other delicate inclusions.”
For Unifiller Systems, unrestricted product flow became a game-changer for depositing batters that ultimately lost fluid to accommodate more inclusions.
“This had previously been a challenge for us until we developed a new depositing concept and redesigned the main product valve on our machines,” said Stewart MacPherson, owner and vice-president, sales and marketing, Unifiller.
The machine’s valve-block design, called the SV valve, was the result of two years of development.
When depositing a product with chunks or bits of any kind, maintaining that integrity may require more than a one-size-fits-all solution because some inclusions are less forgiving than others.
“With inclusions, you can’t always put all shapes and sizes in there,” Mr. Aasness said. “It comes down to the engineering and flexibility of the equipment to deposit everything.”
For example, because of their soft texture and dark color, blueberries require extra care in handling.
“You want those blueberries to be deposited fast and accurately,” he noted. “With fruit, how it’s handled is very important, and with our equipment, how (batter) comes out is how you see it going in, even when it goes through a cylinder with a valve pushing it through the nozzle and out thehopper.”
For Tromp Group, gentle depositing leads to even distribution of the inclusions, which is vital in miniature products that have little room for error, whether depositing a batter or filling.
“The material needs to remain stable, so the inclusions don’t sink into the mass,” said Hans Besems, senior application specialist, Tromp Group. “Our machine handles any filling gently so as not to affect its integrity.”
For smooth deposits, Handtmann can customize the size of the nozzle to match the inclusions.
“If you have a batter with nuts, we can make the nozzle opening bigger so the larger pieces can flow through,” Mr. Zelaya said. “Because when the opening is too small, it can get clogged.”
When inclusions come into the mix, a batter’s viscosity is affected, and that also requires deposits to be as gentle as possible.
“Many of these mixtures are stiffer to hold the inclusions in suspension so they are evenly distributed throughout the batch,” said John McIsaac, vice-president, strategic business development, Reiser. “These stiffer products often need the gentle mechanical and vacuum action of a Vemag to portion accurately without damaging the product.”
In fact, a gentle deposit is only part of the puzzle. When it comes to these petite portions, accuracy and even distribution are everything.