Probably the most obvious detriment to an oven’s efficiency is when the heat transfer method isn’t tailored to the product.

“You can pour a tremendous amount of BTUs into products and not bake them effectively,” said Shawn Moye, vice-president of sales, Reading Bakery Systems (RBS).

For example, convection may be the most effective baking method, but it isn’t designed for every product or part of the baking process. While convection removes more moisture during baking with less gas — the definition of an efficient bake — it doesn’t develop flavor. For products like crackers, that’s critical at the front end of the baking process that more radiant heat be applied. Convection’s aggressive efficiency can also hinder the bake.

“If you use too much convection initially on a cracker, you will skin the surface of the cracker and then it makes it difficult to remove the moisture from the product,” Mr. Moye explained.

Fitting the method of heat transfer to the product’s needs are the critical first step to an optimized oven.

Adding STIR technology, featured in J4 tunnel ovens, represented in the United States by Topos Mondial Corp., provides a radiant component to the oven. The nano-emissive coating on the inside of the tunnel can either improve radiant heat transfer or add it to an oven that doesn’t include radiant heat.

“You get to have conduction, convection and radiation to the product, which gives a more efficient bake with less fuel needed because you’re exciting the waves,” said Damian Morabito, president, Topos Mondial.

With the proper method — or combination of methods — in place, bakers should then evaluate the bake profile to ensure proper temperatures and humidity at every stage.

“The core strategy is to use the baking curve to make sure the taste and flavor reactions in the first phase are not rushed, avoiding skinning over of products like crackers so the moisture is freely available to evaporate later in the process,” said Kevin Knott, key account manager, Franz Haas Machinery of America, Inc.

At RBS’s Innovation Center, bakers can test their products to find the ideal radiant, convection or conductive heat transfer method. Reading Thermal’s Scorpion technology also can map an ovens internal process of baking to create a bake profile, which can then be compared to benchmarks for similar products.

“If we see there is a significant difference in the way you’re applying the heat for your baking parameters on the same type of product, we can help you optimize,” Mr. Moye said.

The Scorpion can also help bakers see any places in the oven where heat loss or uneven temperatures are occurring.

Understanding the bake profile allows bakers to zero-in on temperature and humidity.

This article is an excerpt from the April 2019 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on ovens, click here.