Producing filled pastries can be a tricky proposition. Consumers want to have the latest flavors and textures for a memorable eating experience, and they want to get the most bang for their buck. Meanwhile, bakers want to deliver on those demands while controlling costs and maintaining efficiency.

According to Jeff Zeak, national development manager, bakery for Reiser, the biggest processing needs these days are for equipment that can handle a wide range of filling types with different flavors, textures and viscosity.

“Our customers are asking for spot depositing of fillings onto sheeted dough that is rolled, folded or closed with another dough sheet on top or continuous and portioning co-extrusion of filling into dough with open and closed ends or open top and closed bottoms,” he said. “Filling types can vary within the same shape and style of product as well as between different product types.”

Any way you fill it, fold it or cut it, to achieve the perfect pastry, bakers need to bring it all into one efficient process.

It starts on the inside

For manufactured sweet goods, fillings provide an easy way for bakers to add variety in a product lineup.

“Our customers are always looking for the ‘new product,’” observed John Giacoio, vice-president, sales, Rheon USA. “These requests drive us to develop new ways to create those new products. The types of fillings they’re considering is staggering.”

Bakers are often going for cutting-edge products that will meet demands that range from better-for-you to a cultural experience … and everything in between.

“Fillings have gone beyond the jelly donut to fillings in turnovers, croissants, Danish, cakes and more,” said Eric Riggle, president, Rademaker USA. “They’re more exotic — kiwi, mango, passion fruit — and also with larger particulates that need their identity preserved throughout the process.”

That said, while fillings enhance a product line and generate additional profit, they’re often quite pricey. So, accuracy and consistency — not to mention, efficiency — are the keys to maintaining the bottom line.

“I’ve been on a lot of calls lately discussing how expensive toppings and fillings are,” Mr. Riggle said. “I was in a customer meeting where we talked about the dough for 10 minutes and spent two-and-a-half hours discussing caramelized onions and artichokes and how expensive the ingredients are.”

Because of these costs, placement and weight accuracy become critical.

Precisely filling a pastry requires careful consideration because not all fillings are created equally; they come in a variety of flavors, weights and viscosities.

“It’s important to be aware of what type of depositor you might need based on the specific application,” said Clint Adams, product specialist, AMF Bakery Systems. “You may need to deposit spots, or the application may require a continuous string of filling. At AMF, our AMF Tromp depositors offer a variety of solutions based on individual filling viscosities, inclusions and temperature range.”

Weight accuracy is also a priority, according to Cesar Zelaya, bakery sales and technology manager, Handtmann.

“Having the right ratio between dough and filling will guarantee finished product consistency and quality,” he said.

Handtmann depositors are servo-controlled to ensure proper dispensing onto the dough sheet, dough piece or tray.

Unifiller also designs its depositors with servo-driven volumetric piston fillers.

“They are very accurate and can accommodate a wide variety of fillings,” noted Sonia Bal, director, marketing and sales operations, Unifiller.

For injection precision, E.T. Oakes pumps the filling through a mass flowmeter.

“That way, we know exactly how much is being delivered to the injection manifold,” said Bob Peck, vice-president, engineering, E.T. Oakes.

Rademaker also considers how the filling is fed to the depositor.

“Should a customer need a positive feed of the material into the depositing chamber, Rademaker can deliver depositors that have a positive feed into that area,” Mr. Riggle said.

What’s on the outside

While a filling and its attributes can set a pastry apart, it’s important that bakers keep the dough in mind, as well.

“Our customers are always trying to increase the product variety by changing the filling but more so by offering a different look,” Mr. Giacoio said. “But changing the look can impact the filling you could use.”

The dough type doesn’t always affect the filling, but how the dough is treated can certainly play a role in the process.

“As Rheon’s makeup options grow, we can offer customers more shapes and designs to choose from, such as a twist and curl or a braided pastry option,” he said.

What happens after the deposit is important because it’s not just about the product’s inner beauty. For filled pastries, what’s on the outside counts, too.

“When processing dough for filled pastries, bakers should consider how the dough reacts once it is folded, cut, crimped or processed in any way,” Mr. Adams said.

AMF Tromp equipment includes technology such as folding sets, curling rollers and other tooling.

“These options can mount directly onto the makeup table for endless variations and adjustments,” he added, noting that AMF Tromp equipment offers a different curling roller for thicker dough to ensure a tighter spiral.

Additionally, if the dough sheet is overworked during lamination, the fat could leak out when baked and diminish the oven spring.

“Rheon does not compress the dough sheet but stretches it to keep the layers intact. This process makes for a stronger sheet, allowing for easier filling and forming of intricate products,” Mr. Giacoio said.

David Moline, vice-president, sales and marketing, Moline Machinery, also noted the importance of assessing how the dough is processed.

“Pastries that are cut after filling need a depositor that’s properly synced with whatever the cutting device may be — rotary cutting or guillotine cutting to length — it all has to be fully integrated and seamless,” he said.

For clean and efficient deposits, the line has to be in sync, according to Mr. Riggle.

“From a dough processing perspective, if you’re making a bear claw, it’s critical that everything’s in synchronization so the deposit is in the right spot and that when you cut the product, it’s the right length with no filling bleeding out the ends,” he said.

Dough temperature is also a vital consideration. Many pastries are produced in a cool environment, which means the dough can be stiffer than one might think, according to Mr. Giacoio.

“Forming the final dough piece can be a challenge if you’re not used to working in a cold environment,” he said.

When processing high-fat laminated sweet goods such as croissants, the dough should be slightly cooler to ensure the fats do not melt when a warm filling meets the dough.

“This often makes the dough less pliable,” Mr. Adams cautioned. “A stiffer dough will require extra effort to ensure the folding is correct and the dough doesn’t spring back.”

For a honeybun, however, injecting a filling needs the product to be a little warmer, according to Mr. Peck.

“If it’s warm and tender, it will allow the jelly to spread inside the bun. If it’s too cold, the jelly will not inject properly and will come out like a geyser,” he said. “When the dough is warm and tender, the filling will spread, but if it’s too hot, it could melt the jelly.”

The temperature requirement may come down to the relationship between the pastry and its specific filling.

“You don’t want the dough to be too warm because it will degrade the quality of the filling,” said Damian Morabito, president, Topos Mondial Corp. “If the dough is on the warmer side and the filling is cooler, you’ll make the filling warm. Take cream cheese; if the dough is too warm, it will make that filling slack and runny.”

How the dough is processed should be a consideration beginning at the mix.

“You want the dough to be developed well so when the pastry bakes and expands, it doesn’t leak,” Mr. Morabito said.

This article is an excerpt from the September 2019 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on sweet goods technology, click here.