Sheet handling, creaming and cutting

Dry sheet handling

Dry sheets prior to creaming are fragile so breakages, cracks or pieces missing at this stage can cause trouble or inefficiency later. It is therefore best to arrange that there is as little handling of dry sheets as possible.

Wafer sheets cool very quickly and the transfer time between the oven and the creamer on modern ovens is usually more related to convenience than cooling needed. The author has worked with plates where the sheets are still warm at creaming and this causes the fat in the cream to melt a little and give very good "keying" to the wafers. Equilibration of moisture within sheets is important but most cooling systems do not give enough time for this to complete. This is why good baking and good oven maintenance is essential.

Cream sandwiching

Creams for wafers are of similar composition to those for other biscuits except that it is usual to include a proportion of milled creamed wafer trimmings (5-10% may be acceptable) as an economy measure. Bonding between wafers and cream is improved if a warm soft cream is applied rather than a cooler stiffer one.

Cream or caramel may be applied to the sheets by contact with a cream coated roller or as a film (see the accompanying diagrams).

As the cream is much softer than biscuit sandwich cream, handling with pumps and pipes, possibly in a ring main arrangement, is possible.

3cl-wafer-creaming-thumbWafer creaming

"Book" building

Coated sheets are built up into piles as desired and a plain topping sheet is added finally. Typically there will be 3 or 4 wafers with 2 or 3 layers of cream respectively in a pile or "book".

To save waste, precise registering of the elements of the book is essential and the operation will be impaired if conveyors or guides become heavily soiled with cream. It is normal to apply heat locally to encourage misplaced cream to melt and run away from critical areas.

The assembled book must then be pressed together before cooling. Normally this can be done with a large diameter roller, but if the gauging so required is excessive, as well as squeezing cream away, there may be superficial damage to the wafer.

The percentage of cream in the book will be around 70% and as the cream is much more expensive than the wafer sheets regular checks on the book weights are important. It is normal to install a check weigher to automatically weigh each book immediately after it has been assembled. Wafer book check weighers can detect deviations of about ±0.5g.

Cooling

Cream cooling is normally done with convected cool air (at 10-12°C), but radiant cooling tunnels may have some application. The humidity of the air should be kept as low as possible, because by cooling, the RH rises and this promotes moisture pick up by the exposed wafers. The cooled wafer books should not leave the cooler with surface temperatures below the local dew point, otherwise moisture will be picked up on the exposed wafers and warping, leading to splitting apart of wafers from cream, may occur.

Cutting

The cooled books are cut into eating size squares, rectangles, fingers, etc. by pushing them singly or in small piles through sets of taut wires, blades or circular saws. There are two cuts at 90° to each other and the resulting piles of wafer biscuit pieces are ready for packaging, storage or chocolate coating.

The cutting operation is usually a source of significant amounts of "waste" (unpackable product), principally as side trimmings, but these may be recycled, after milling, in subsequent batches of wafer cream.