New methods for product finishing

by Joanie Spencer
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Quick changes for nozzles that run across a conveyor belt aid in efficiency if one or two of them become clogged at any time.
 

As with every other category in the baking industry, consumers are upping the ante when it comes to sweet goods. They want higher quality, better taste and improved eye appeal. One area where bakers can hit all those marks is in finishing them.

“Consumers love icing and glazes,” said Gary Kyle, chief sales and marketing officer, for James Skinner Baking Co., Omaha, NE, which produces the J. Skinner brand of cinnamon rolls, Danish and other sweet goods. So much so, he said, that the company has extended one of its flagship products, J. Skinner Cinnamon Craver’s Rolls, with the new Iced Cinnamon Craver’s Rolls. “Now consumers have the option of purchasing our signature roll with a glaze or thick, sweet icing,” he said.

It seems that the trend is toward the thicker the better these days. “I see a lot of viscosities in glazing; you have everything from thin to very thick,” said Ty Sarajian, owner, Axis Automation. “But I’m also seeing a trend toward the thicker side than I have in the past.”

The higher the quality of the finish, the more value added to the product, according to Stewart Macpherson, vice-president, sales and marketing, Unifiller. “These include things like chocolate coatings, caramel and cream cheese-based icings,” he said. And with these different applications come new challenges bakers must consider when efficiently creating high-end, consistent, finished sweet goods.

Temperature’s sweet spot

When it comes to managing icing and glazing, few will argue that temperature is the most important factor to watch.

“Temperature control is always the key for handling any icing or glaze or compounds,” said Stephen Renaud, vice-president, sales and project development, ABI Ltd. Whatever substance is being applied will have different viscosities based on ingredients such as fat and sugar.

To maintain the proper temperature, jacketing is a common feature for many application systems. “All ABI chocolate compound application systems, and our partner Hacos systems, are fully jacketed with temperature-controlled thermal fluid to keep the recirculated compounds from clogging,” Mr. Renaud said.

If icing gets too cold, chances are it will harden and clog up the nozzle. To address this, E.T. Oakes Corp. designs its system with an isolated bore. “This allows hot water to circulate through the manifold and maintain the proper temperature,” said Bob Peck, vice-president, engineering for E.T. Oakes. “It’s a gun-drilled bore that runs horizontally through the entire manifold.”

On E.T. Oakes’ icing equipment, the icer moves in a circular motion, so to avoid clogging, the icing cannot be too rigid. If certain areas of a piping system don’t have temperature control, icing could harden; the result is something similar to when a human artery clogs. The flow gets backed up, and eventually it’s going to stop. “Our system has a flexible connection, a flexible feed line,” Mr. Peck said. “It’s also heat-traced electrically. Every part of that system is controlled by heat to prevent clogging in the piping network.”

For heated applications, Unifiller offers temperature-controlled hoppers. “In some cases, we have a heated application nozzle, where we incorporate and apply infrared heat to the ‘business end’ of our equipment,” Mr. Macpherson said.

If the temperature is off, it’s not just the equipment that’s affected, such as with clogging, but it will also hurt the consistency of a product. “When icing is too cold, it clogs the nozzle, but when it’s too hot, it thins out and spreads,” Mr. Peck said.

Learn how to maintain the integrity of icings and glazes in the next segment.

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