Before purchasing laminated dough lines, lines, bakers must decide what features the should have in terms of speed, gentntleness and flexibility. Additional options, such as vertical lamination, ensusure that the line fits the baker's needs.
Buying a laminated dough makeup line requires not only an investment in price, but also in the manufacturer. Unlike bread or cookie lines, which a baker can piece together using multiple suppliers, a laminated dough line generally is bought from one manufacturer. As a result, any baker looking to take part in this industry must carefully consider what each supplier offers in terms of selection, options and problem-solving.
When selecting equipment for a laminated dough makeup line, a baker must consider speed, gentleness and flexibility. Speed and gentleness over-lap in some areas. It is important for the dough to be processed quickly, but not so fast that it runs through volatile conditions. Bakers also must consider how a line handles scrap and if the line can make multiple products.
Prime Pastries, Concord, Ontario, installed a laminated dough makeup line in February 2003. When considering manufacturers, Ashley Berman, Prime Pastries' operations manager, says the company wanted its new line to have several features. "We ran laminated dough and other products, and we wanted easy changeover and consistency," he says. The company also considered how gently the dough was handled and if the line would fit the plant's space dimensions.
Another factor to look into when selecting laminated dough equipment is its setup. Bakers need to allow time for installation and training, and some systems are so intricate that the startup may be lengthy.
If the baker has previous experience using automated equipment, then the setup process should be relatively simple, with possible problems arising from an operational or controlling perspective.
If a baker is switching from a semi-automated system to an automated process, the only problems that should arise involve mindset changes.
"They have to now maintain much more operational control of the process," a manufacturer says. "Before, there's a lot of flexibility when you do everything by hand. Now, when you automate things, you have to make sure your temperature is right and you process your dough the same way every time."
When Prime Pastries switched to an automated laminated dough makeup line, the company had to train its employees and redefine its products' parameters.
"It took a couple of days to train the employees, but as soon as our operators learned the equipment, it became easier and easier," Berman says.
Speed, gentleness, flexibility and setup are not the only factors that a baker must consider before buying a laminated dough makeup line. A baker also should weigh how overhead resting, vertical lamination and high-speed lamination may affect the product.
One manufacturer says overhead resting, also called inline retarding, is done for two reasons. After processing the dough, it is important to let the gluten rest. The other reason is to let the dough achieve temperature control. Most overhead resting systems are refrigerated.
If a baker wants to maintain a continuous process, it is necessary to equip the laminated dough line with over-head resting. In a semi-automated line, a baker would have to place the dough blocks on a tray, put the tray on a rack and move that into a retarder. An overhead resting system eliminates these steps and manual labor.
Another option for bakers to consider is a vertical lamination system. This system uses little floor space, because it extends upward, instead of horizontally. This system is ideal for dough that is not too soft. For example, gravity may cause a Danish dough to stretch too much if it was vertically laminated. One manufacturer says his company uses a specified working width—no more than 24 ins.—in a vertical lamination system, because of the ascent and descent angles and distance the dough travels. If operated correctly, a vertical laminator will provide a consistent zigzag to the dough, the manufacturer says.
High-speed lamination is ideal for wide lines. Similar to vertical lamination, this system also is capable of providing a consistent zigzag. The manufacturer says a high-speed line can process as much as 14,000 lbs. an hour for wide lines.
Laminating dough is a complicated process, and as a result, there are opportunities for problems to arise. One manufacturer says temperature control is the most common problem because it relies on the operator. When dough is sheeted, a baker must maintain the layering effect. If a baker lets the dough become too cold, it is hard to process and sheet. If the dough is too warm, the fat will bleed, causing the dough to tear and lose the layering effect. The manufacturer says the ideal temperature for laminated products is around 50ûF.
The manufacturer also says temperature problems occur when the fat is removed from the freezer, but not allowed to achieve the right temperature before it is processed. If the fat is too cold, it will cause a fracture. If the fat is too warm, it will become sticky and hard to handle. This problem is common when a bakery moves from a semi-automated operation to an automated line. Typically, these bakers keep their fats at higher temperatures because they are easier to work.
Another problem is giving inadequate time for retarding the dough block. This process is necessary because it enhances flavors and allows the dough time to attain the proper temperature.
Options in equipment
Many manufacturers supply equipment that will keep these problems to a minimum. A manufacturer says his company's croissant machine can attain speeds as high as 600 croissants a minute, while avoiding complications. This same machine does not have any cloth or felt belting. The manufacturer says this allows the baker to remove these parts and sanitize them. "That's big because felt belts usually get encrusted with fat and have to be dry cleaned or replaced because rancidity could develop," he said.
Another innovative laminated dough line features a gentle extruder. The manufacturer says this extruder is very low stress and has side rollers to gently feed the dough down, in addition to the bottom rollers. This line also contains a satellite system with 16 rollers, instead of the standard 12 rollers. These small rollers circle clockwise and gently push down the dough to the desired height.
Choosing a laminated dough line is not an easy task. However, bakers that specify their production goals should find a system to fit their needs.