The first stage is the mixing stage. Mixing is an integral part of biscuit and cookie production. This is because mixing is the first of various major production steps during which all ingredients are blended perfectly, thereby allowing the baker to produce the perfect cookie or biscuit.
Many biscuit and cookie production plants employ a continuous mixing system which provides the baker with front-end control of the entire mixing process. In this way, the baker is able to automatically meter the ingredients and continuously produce dough, thereby ensuring that all the dough is processed at the same age. What this means is that no single batch of dough will be left sitting longer than the others. Upon completion of the mixing of a batch of dough, the dough is normally ejected from the mixer and is immediately placed into either a trough or tub, or even directly fed into a feed hopper.
Through continuous mixing, the baker is able to achieve a uniform and consistent dough stream to the production line, at a similar rate to that which is being used. Such a mixing process eliminates problems that may arise due to batch cycles, while producing a consistent product all day, every day. The results of the mixing process can thereafter be fine-tuned and repeated on a day to day basis, while monitoring the history of production. This history is then saved electronically such that the manufacturing data from the past can be examined and reviewed.
Types of Machines Used in the Process
Dough Mixer – The dough mixer is utilized for the mixing of various ingredients used in the production of biscuits and cookies. These ingredients include flour, fat, sugar, water and other chemicals used in forming soft, hard or fermented dough that is then used to make the cookies and biscuits. The Dough Mixer comes in a design with a base plate over which two side frames are fitted for receiving the load of the bread dough mixer.
Inside the mixing chamber, there are typically two mixing blades that are fitted which rotate in opposite directions at varying speeds. This process allows the dough mixer to mix different types of hard or soft dough, thereby achieving the right dough consistency. There is also an electric-powered tilting device which is used to tilt the mixing chamber such that you are able to unload the mixing dough. The dough mixer is covered on all sides to prevent the occurrence of accidents as well as the penetration of dust.
The capacity of the dough mixers range anywhere from flour measuring 100kg, 200kg or 300kg for every batch. Standard models of dough mixers are typically made out of mile sheet or cast iron with a top lid. For leakage protection, the mixing bowl is shielded by double oil seals and a gland rope in all the blade shafts. This helps to prevent liquid leakage from the mixing chamber. Each dough mixer is able to produce dough consistently, along with high production yields.
There are also specialized mixing elements that are designed to gently mix gourmet biscuits and cookies with big inclusions such as nuts and chocolate chips which will not end up breaking up during mixing. Mixers typically have programmable variable-speed drives from very low to very high RPM. These enable the bakers to gently fold in large inclusions without them breaking apart. High speed, multi-purpose batch dough mixers offer thorough mixing as they are fitted with a shaftless blade design which allows for good dispersion, as well as rapid dough development.
Continuous mixing is beneficial to cookie and biscuit production as it simplifies the mixing process, while consistently dispersing ingredients. It also simplifies the dough feed equipment and provides the baker with tight control over the entire mixing process. This is also a much safer and sanitary option for mixing dough that is easy to clean, maintain and sanitize.
The baker also doesn’t have to worry about contaminating the dough as the dough will never be exposed to the outside environment while inside the mixer. With the user friendly controls, dough mixers are generally easy to operate. They also control the metering of the ingredients to the mixer, such that this process becomes uninterrupted and precise. Today, there are a wide range of specialized dough mixers available on the market. These mixers are designed to successfully form different types of dough.
Mixers can produce low absorption dough products such as cookies. There are also mixtures that specialize in the production of low development dough which would require multiple mixing stages such as cookies. Such a mixer would typically feature a multistage mixing design which allows for the automation of the crème-up stage in conjunction with the mixing of the dough.
Potential Problems and Solutions
Biscuit and cookie production can sometimes present problems. Below is a look at some of the common mixing problems, as well as their solutions.