Wafer Sheet Production

Wafer batter is principally flour. Eggs and fat may be added principally as release agents. There is little or no shortening effect by fats but the surface of wafers is smoother when fats are present in the formulation. Excessively high levels of fat give swirling patterns on the surface of the wafers. Without fats there would be a strong tendency for wafers to stick on the plates. Eggs are a source of both fat and emulsifier (lecithin) but some feel that they also impart a better quality to the wafer and improve shelf life. Certain fats are better than others for incorporation at the time of mixing and, for convenience, liquid vegetable oils are favoured, for example, ground nut oil, cotton seed oil or sunflower seed oil. Lecithin is a useful addition.

It is probable that soya flour is not the best means of adding fat and lecithin.

Sugar and milk powder may be added in small quantities to improve quality.

Salt is added as a flavour enhancer and the level is usually around 0.25 per 100 units of flour.

Aeration of the batter is most important in wafer manufacture. Although bubbles of air are included during batter mixing most of these float out of the batter before it is deposited onto the plates. If the conditions are such that insufficient time is allowed for the bubbles to leave the batter it could be that the density of the batter changes during use and this will affect the baked sheet weights. Chemical aeration is usually achieved with sodium bicarbonate or ammonium bicarbonate or a mixture of the two. Ammonium bicarbonate is particularly effective.

The use of yeast as a method of aeration is steeped in tradition. It is most unlikely that any flavour or textural benefits are contributed to the wafer sheet, but yeast cells probably do form the nuclei for water vapour production which is important for the formation of a good wafer texture. Batter standing times and suitable temperatures to allow multiplication of the yeast are not usually very practical in modern mixing and batter handling systems. Yeast is now rarely used in batter recipes.

Water is added to produce a convenient consistency. As the quantity of water is roughly 150% of the flour weight it is obviously of utmost importance for the successful production of uniform batter that close attention is paid to the flour metering. Changes of flour properties which affect water absorption are normally small compared with errors in flour weighing.

Colours are commonly added to wafer batter.