Gluten morgen… Temperature control in your sponge cake production
If your sponge cake didn’t turn out as fluffy as you wanted, don’t worry…the first guy who invented it, didn’t do a good job either. His cake was much more like a cracker. But in his defense, it was 1615. These days everyone knows that to make a fluffy cake, batter temperature matters. But how can you control it when you have to produce hundreds of uniform, soft sponge cakes a day?
What does batter temperature have to do with gluten development?
Let me answer you: everything. When making batter for your sponge cake, the room temperature must be kept constant and must not exceed 24 °C. If it’s a scorching day or the ovens inside your plant are on, the temperature can easily rise up to 30°C. As a result, batter and fat become more watery and when water appears, wait for it, gluten develops. Flour contains two proteins, glutenin and gliadin, which bond together when water is added. This forms an elastic network of proteins called gluten that makes the batter sticky. If there is too much of it, your fluffy sponge cake will become chewy and get a bread-like texture. It is also hard to deposit the sponge cake layers evenly, between 4-5 mm each, if the batter is too viscous.
A closed mixing system to control your batter temperature
After premixing, sponge cake batter is often prepared in open planetary mixers. Change-overs and combining different mixers together make it difficult to control temperature and achieve batter uniformity. As Natalija Pepeljugoska, Food Technologist at TT Italy, explains, in this case a closed mixing solution that avoids exposing the batter to the outside temperature can be recommended. Industrial-scale cake manufacturers use their Turbo Mixer starting from a capacity of 400kg of batter per hour. It has an integrated cooling system to make sure the temperature stays between 18-24 °C for perfect batter quality. By injecting controlled air or nitrogen instead of oxygen into the closed vessel, the risk of anaerobic micro growth is reduced.