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Process for semi-sweet biscuits

Examples of semi-sweet biscuits are Marie, Petit Buerre, Rich Tea, Arrowroot, Breakfast biscuits. They are characterised by an even, attractive colour with smooth surface sheen, light texture and good volume. 

Doughs for semi-sweet biscuits have the following features:

  • Doughs have strong, developed gluten which gives an elastic dough, which is sheeted and cut. It often shrinks in the first stage of baking
  • Doughs have low sugar and fat
  • Doughs have water contents typically of around 12%
  • Biscuits are normally baked on a wire-mesh band (except for Marie which is traditionally baked on a steel band)
  • Humidity in the first part of the baking is important to achieve good volume and a smooth surface sheen
  • Biscuits are baked to low moisture contents, around 1.5% - 2.0%

Critical ingredients

  • Medium protein flour which should not exceed 9.0% protein. Higher protein will result in a hard biscuit.
  • Cornflour and maize flour are used to reduce the total gluten content and make a more tender eating biscuit.
  • SMS will modify the protein to make a softer extensible dough


Semi-sweet doughs are mixed with an "all in one mix" on a horizontal mixer. Mixing is critical to developing the soft extensible dough. A mixing action which kneads the dough without too much tearing and extruding is ideal. 

Mixing time on a typical high speed mixer will be 20-25 minutes. Doughs such as ‘Marie’ are mixed until the required temperature is achieved. The dough should reach 40-42oC. At this temperature it should be well kneaded and of correct consistency for machining. Higher dough temperatures result in unstable doughs.

The dough is used straight away without standing and it is important to maintain the temperature.


The dough may be laminated, but doughs made with SMS are usually sheeted without lamination. Dough scrap incorporation is very important and should be very even and consistent. The temperature of the scrap dough should be as close as possible to the temperature of the new dough. Dough sheet reduction should be gentle and should not exceed the ratio of 2.5:1.

Image 4 : Baker Perkins rotary cutting line with 3 gauge roll units

Typical roll gaps are:
Forcing roll gap on sheeter:    18.0 mm
Gauging gap on sheeter:        9.0 mm
1st gauge roll             5.7 mm
2nd gauge roll            2.5 mm
Final gauge roll            1.1 mm  (Cutting thickness: 1.3 mm)

The doughs shrink and require good relaxation before cutting. Separate cutting and printing rolls on the rotary cutter are recommended to achieve good, clear printing and docker holes, (piercing of holes in the dough pieces).


Direct Gas Fired and Indirect Radiant ovens are both suitable for baking semi-sweet biscuits either as individual ovens or as a Direct Gas Fired / Indirect Radiant combination oven. Convection zones may be used in the middle and final zones of the oven for drying and colouring the biscuits.

Steam may be used at the oven entry to achieve a high humidity. This will improve the surface finish of the biscuit.

Baking time:        5.0 – 6.5 minutes
Temperatures:    200 / 220 / 180oC
Moisture:        1.5%

baker pacific Direct Gas Fired Oven
Image 6 : Baker Pacific Direct Gas Fired multi-purpose oven with steam injection 


A ratio of cooling to baking time should be at least 1.5:1. This will help to avoid checking, (cracking of the biscuits after packaging due to an internal moisture gradient).



Recommendations and notes from the late Glyn Sykes, Baker Pacific Ltd.


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