Vacuum flour transfer can improve dough, says OAL Group

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

OAL Group engineer: 'Straight-forwardly, using the vacuum process eliminates that heat factor'
OAL Group engineer: 'Straight-forwardly, using the vacuum process eliminates that heat factor'

Related tags: Bread

Bakers must consider carefully how flour is moved from silos to mixers because this stage is critical to dough consistency and overall baking quality, says an OAL Group engineer.

Industrial bakers typically transfer ingredients like flour from silos to mixers using pressurized systems that blow the raw material. However, Allan Biddle, senior commissioning engineer at OAL Group, said this method caused problems further down the line.

“Just by nature, the method produces a lot of heat and that heat and energy is transferred to the flour which is not a good thing. It’s not a good attribute when you start to mix the dough because everything gets too hot and you’ve got yeast in there, so before you’ve finished your mixing process you’re actually destroying it,”​ he told BakeryandSnacks.com.

Variations in temperature during flour transfer, he said, ultimately impacted dough consistency and the end baked product.

Vacuum transfer promise

Biddle said by changing the flour transfer method, all of these problems could be solved.

“Straightforwardly, using the vacuum process eliminates that heat factor… By controlling the temperature much better, you have much more consistent dough,”​ he said.

This consistency, he said, was the main draw for industry. “So many bakers start off each day with the same recipe and it doesn’t work out… If they started off in the first place with a first-grade product they wouldn’t be in that position.”

But, in addition he said the vacuum method saved long-term costs because with pressurized transfer methods, many bakers had to use ice to cool the dough – something that wasn’t needed with vacuum.

Production method counts

Biddle said many bakers adjusted formulations when dough or bread wasn’t right. “Most bakers have a recipe which they try and run to and adjust, what we would call, ‘on the fly’ – as recipes are running, they’re constantly trying to adjust it to suit the dough.”

However, he said this caused inconsistencies in the dough and end product. These bakers would benefit, he said, from looking further down the line at the production method handling raw ingredients.

“Using vacuum transfer enables bakers to very accurately forecast the costs on liquid because they’re not having such a huge variation from day to day,”​ he said.

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