Enhanced equipment for granola from Baker Perkins

Baker Perkins has unveiled an addition to its product portfolio with equipment designed to create crunchy granola bars.

As the UK-based manufacturer revealed, its latest line has been developed in response to growing demand within the sector for products perceived as being more healthy.

Its new series adds to an existing range which already includes crunchy baked granola cereal.

According to Baker Perkins, the production process involves compressing a sheet of pre-mixed granola to a higher density than conventional cold-formed granola bars, in order to achieve a biscuit-like product with a sharp bite.

A feature of the system is a newly developed forming unit to meet the challenge of accurately guillotining the baked granola slab into bars. This features servo-control to ensure complete control over the cutting operation.

Oats are the usual base for these new bars, although other grains or dehydrated vegetables are also possibilities. Inclusions and coating – usually with yoghurt – can provide variety.

The company added that granola represents a significant opportunity for food manufacturers thanks to its increasing popularity as ready-to-eat breakfast cereal and cereal bars.

There are several drivers for the growth of granola including increasing awareness of the health benefits of oats (high fibre, slow energy release and gluten-free); the relentless growth of the cereal bar market; and, as a breakfast cereal, speed and convenience compared with oatmeal (porridge).

The initial mixing process involves blending dry ingredients in a batch mixer and then metering them into a continuous mixer along with oil and sugar to form a mass. Because the high level of compression helps to bind the mass together, less syrup is required for the new, hard bars, which is regarded as a plus for the health conscious consumer.

The mass is transferred to a live bottom bin which provides a metered feed to a feeder/spreader unit. From there, the feeder/spreader creates a loosely compacted sheet of constant thickness that is evenly distributed across the full width of the oven infeed band.  An even and consistent thickness across the band is vital to achieving consistency of texture and appearance in the final product.

A compression roll provides a final consolidation and gauging of the sheet before baking.

After cooling, a slitter and guillotine divide the sheet into individual bars before wrapping.  Alternatively, to produce a smooth cereal of free-flowing consistency, the sheet could be fed into a kibbling unit before packing.

In addition to granola bars, Baker Perkins uses wirecut technology to make a variety of fruit filled and breakfast bars.

Baker Perkins’ TruClean wirecut allows filled bars to be produced with an unlimited variety of sweet and savoury fillings, including low fat options. Baker Perkins’ equipment offers an extensive choice of shapes, profiles, fillings and toppings. It also accommodates ingredients with recognised health benefits such as whole grains, nuts, fruit pieces, low-carb crispy pieces, fibre, soy and whey protein.

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