Growing up in Japan with a baker as a father, Tokuyuki Miyake, technical supervisor, Rheon USA, was exposed to the many aspects of a baker’s life at a young age.

“My father used to own a small bakery in Japan,” Mr. Miyake said. “I grew up with many bakers and had many chances to touch the flour and dough. So I had the opportunity to see how to make bread since I was little.”

Mr. Miyake first knew baking would be special to him when he witnessed the bread-making process.

“The first time I smelled the scent of fermented dough and felt the texture of dough were memorable because I’d never experienced anything like it,” he said. “Also, having that first bite of a fresh-out-of-the-oven bread is really hard to describe.”

When he grew up, Mr. Miyake decided to study food science at the Japan Institute of Baking. Upon graduation, he worked as a baker for 10 years.

“Working as a baker was like walking a tightrope every day,” he said. “Temperature and humidity vary daily, which needs to be adjusted for, as well as balancing the chemistry of the ingredients to yield high-quality bread. Teamwork is also key to making high-quality bread.”  

Eventually, Mr. Miyake began working at Rheon, where his current role is technical supervisor. His major focus is to ensure that the equipment helps customers create stable products as well as achieve stable production to keep their businesses on track. He also conducts customer tests and installations.

“I was a bakery manager at a small bakery where all baked goods were made from scratch without the use of machines,” Mr. Miyake said. “So I know the importance of making bread using our machines without compromising the quality of the bread.”

What baked goods are suited for a stress-free operation?

Rheon has developed the system, “From Dough Sheet to Bread.” Bread dough is conventionally formed by dividing a large dough block into small portions, and forming round, loaf or flat shapes. However, this process applies stress to the dough during the dividing process, greatly damaging the gel and cell structures. The dough will not be able to produce air bubbles, resulting in poor-quality bread. Therefore, it has been essential to use some chemical additives for strengthening the dough structure and to undertake extra processing to recover the damaged dough structure after dividing.

Rheon has made it possible to maintain the dough quality. The stress-free system does not damage even high-quality dough so no chemical additives are needed. The stress-free operation is mainly for all bread products, but especially suitable for the products that need longer fermentation and have an open cell structure, such as ciabatta and baguettes. You should minimize degassing these lean doughs as much as possible to get the open structure.

Regarding the products that should be stressed, rich and high-protein flour dough requires a different approach to get the volume while baking. The gluten structure needs to be denser for those products than lean dough. 

You need to degas for rich dough such as brioche and loaf bread. But even with those products, the surface must be smooth, and that requires a delicate touch. Degassing is easy, but it is difficult to degas and get a smooth surface by machine.

How can technology be used to keep production hygienic and efficient without risking the form of the product?

Our machines and parts are always improving. We know easy sanitation and easy maintenance are high priorities for bakers. Our newest machine is called the VX222 and is built for easy cleaning and maintenance. It is easy to tell which sensor is working by the operation panel. For cleaning you can access the inside of the machine from the operation and non-operation sides, plus it is easy to take out all the belts. Daily cleaning is very important. It is also important to plan and execute preventative maintenance to ensure a long machine life and stable production.

What are the benefits of continuously forming a thin, stress-free dough sheet?

The biggest benefit of a stress-free dough sheet is that you can make various sizes and shapes of products such as a 2-lb boule or a 2-oz ciabatta with handmade quality.

Rheon’s applied rheological engineering technology continuously forms a thin dough sheet with negative stress on the dough — no more rolling and no more unnecessary pressure. It is a continuous dough sheet, so it is easy to supply to the next machine. Our system can handle dough without adding any stress. And if the dough is mixed with particulates such as raisins or walnuts, it will keep them intact. 

Some of our dough feeders can adjust dough width and thickness. This allows bakers to easily fine-tune for the final shape. Of course, our regular dough feeders can adjust dough thickness easily. 

It is a big transition from handmade to automated bread making. If your bakery is producing various types of bread, then I recommend automating the highest volume of products first. Then the remaining products can be semi-automated like dividing the dough by machine and shaping by hand. If you automate part of your production, you can reduce labor costs, but you need to calculate the schedule for mixing to suit the machine’s capability. Oven, proofer capacity and schedule are also very important.      

How can bakers use technologies to mimic the outcomes of hand-crafted doughs from various cultures?

This is one of our most important missions: to build machines to succeed in the food culture of each country. We have offices in Asia, Europe and the United States, and we have agents all over the world. We always try to collect information about the products of the world as much as possible to see what we can do for the food industry. Technologies are improving every day. We have been keeping a watchful and respectful eye on this immense and irreplaceable aspect of culture and have been considering ways to connect technologies with traditional food.

The development of the automated food production technology by Rheon was the result of this observation. Preserving and fostering its growth is among the important tasks of today’s scientists and engineers. We have built many machines and options to meet our customers’ demand, and we don’t mind making an effort to make good-quality products.

Bakers need to pick the right machines and options. I recommend testing well before purchasing, and sharing your thoughts and detailed information is very important.

What are some of the challenges of getting various types of fillings into stuffed products?

The most common challenges are the different textures between fillings and outer casings. If the filling is too stiff and the casing too soft, then you might have difficulty making a proper closure. If the filling is too soft, then you might get weight variation. If the filling ratio is very high and the outer dough does not have enough flexibility to wrap, then the filling blows out during baking.