Dough piece decoration

Decoration with salt, sugar, nuts etc.

In some cases the dough may be garnished with sugar or nuts etc., before cutting. The value of this is that the material is pressed into the dough piece surface. The serious disadvantage is that the cutter scrap is enriched with the garnishing material and this will affect its reincorporation with fresh dough.

Usually garnishing is done after the cutter scrap dough has been removed. A surface dusting of sugar, salt , seeds or nuts, etc. may be applied to the pieces before they are placed onto the oven band. By using sugar or salt of different crystal size very attractive surface decoration can be achieved.

Systems sprinkling granular materials onto dough pieces must include a means for recovering the excess material which falls between the pieces or rolls off. The recovered material can be reused.

At this point, as an alternative to dusting, a milk or egg wash may be applied. This is normally done with a revolving brush although there are some cases where a spray is used. Care must be taken that as little as possible of the liquid spills onto the web as this will make the surface very sticky and necessitate continuous washing and drying of the web. Egg or milk that gets onto the underside of the dough pieces will bake very dark and will look like dirt on the bottom of the biscuits.

Printing

It is possible to print the surface of dough pieces with novelty pictures. These are usually achieved by applying a caramel solution or some other edible ink onto dough pieces (either after a cutter or a rotary moulder) before baking. There are three established techniques. The most popular method involves screen printing, another is an offset system and the other is an ink jet technique. The latter is much more expensive but also allows application simultaneously of different colours. The offset system uses up to three printing rolls so also allows different colours on the same dough piece.

The printing units are normally sited immediately after a moulder or cutter so that tracking of webs does not influence the position of the dough pieces relative to the printing machine.

Lye bath treatment

Dough pieces immersed in a caustic soda solution before baking are generally known as pretzels. They may be in the shape of knots or sticks, are made from a simple tight fermented dough that is usually extruded (as dough ropes to be cut into sticks), sheeted and cut or more rarely rotary moulded. The dough pieces are passed through a hot lye bath before being salt dusted (with coarse crystals) and baked. The lye is a 1 or 2% solution of caustic soda (more rarely a 2% solution of sodium carbonate) at more than 65°C. The lye produces a skin of starch degraded to dextrin, it is this that gives the characteristic dark brown and shiny surface during baking.