How to measure and analyse the texture of food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and adhesives.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Texture Measurement: How to get out of a sticky dough situation

An important predictor of bread’s finished product quality is the stickiness of dough. 

This particular parameter is notorious in the bakery industry for causing many time delays and much wastage, when not properly controlled. Factors affecting this characteristic include excess water, overworking, too much or too little flour and enzymatic imbalances.

Sticky dough is problematic in bakeries as it causes progressive build-up of dough smears on mixers and rounders, necessitating extra cleaning and leading to waste and unplanned stoppages. Equally, if it is too dry, the dough will not be formed properly by the rounder and the desirable crumb structure cannot be created. 

A very delicate balance must be achieved in order to bind any layers that would otherwise create large holes, while at the same time maintaining a firm product structure. 

What’s the testing solution?
Previous test methods for quantifying dough stickiness normally required manipulation of the dough sample immediately prior to testing. This, and exposure to drier atmospheres common in QC labs, introduce rheological changes which reduce stickiness and therefore distort test results.

As stickiness is most commonly evident when dough is subjected to shear, tests should ideally be performed immediately after mixing or processing, e.g. after dividing or moulding. The research, development and engineering team at Warburtons has worked with Stable Micro Systems to develop a sample testing box into which dough samples can be placed quickly and with minimum exposure of the cut surface to the atmosphere. A retaining plate is placed on top of the dough, applying slight compression to the sample. A narrow blade is driven through a slot in the retaining plate, to a defined distance. This action provides bakers with an accurate assessment of the compression peak and compression area of the dough, indicators of its consistency (firmness / softness). As the blade is withdrawn upwards, software calculates the adhesion peak and adhesion area. The higher the peak, and/or larger the area, the stickier the dough.

Wise words to the baker
The Warburtons Dough Stickiness System mimics certain actions carried out in commercial bakeries and is ideally suited to this sector of the baking industry due to the high speed of the test, the ease of cleaning between tests and the reduced need for temperature-controlled environments.

The Warburtons Dough Stickiness System is a Community Registered Design and is available in two sizes, to accommodate samples of 500g or 900-1000g.

The assessment of dough stickiness prior to bulk preparation is a definite advantage to manufacturers wishing to save time and money, as well as create a high quality end product. 

Watch our video about testing of bakery products  Assessing Bakery Functionality

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