Photo: National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark

Improved baking processes via mathematic modelling

Thursday 07 Nov 13
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Jens Adler-Nissen
Emeritus
National Food Institute
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A new pilot oven has been especially built to mimic baking processes in the bakery industry. The oven was built as part of a PhD project at the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, and provides totally new possibilities to optimise baking processes and control product quality during baking.

Denmark has a big industrial production of bakery products. The turnover of the largest producer of cakes, cookies and biscuits was over 700 million DKK in 2010. However, it is a big challenge to get detailed experimental data from industrial ovens in order to optimise industrial baking processes.

 

Pilot oven mimics industry’s tunnel ovens

In her PhD project at the National Food Industry, Mette Stenby Andresen participated in designing a unique pilot oven. Subsequently, the oven has been used to develop a mathematic model for energy and mass transportation in bakery products during baking.

 

The objective of this model is to describe how bakery products are warmed and dried in a tunnel oven. Tunnel ovens are many metres long ovens through which the product is transported in a continuous baking process, i.e. a process where dough is made into finished products.

 

Even though the pilot oven is built like a so-called batch oven where the product is put in and taken out in the same way as with an ordinary household oven, it has been built to mimic the baking process in tunnel ovens – with particular attention to obtaining the same baking conditions as in large industry ovens.

 

Predicts the quality of cookies

With the pilot oven it is possible to monitor the product both visually and through a number of measurements during the entire baking process. In this way, you can collect and analyse data both for use in mathematic models and for investigating new possibilities to optimise existing baking processes or oven designs.

 

For example, the effect of baking sheets on evaporisation was examined by combining continuous weight measurements with a mathematical model. This was done by comparing various modelling formats with data from the pilot oven. The findings showed that baking sheets reduce evaporisation from the underside of cookies, but they don’t completely remove it. Assumptions about how evaporisation is affected by baking plates or baking forms vary between different models, however, an actual examination hasn’t been undertaken previously.

 

The results from the project, both in the form of the new pilot oven and the findings obtained, could be of great assistance to oven manufacturers, the baking industry and researchers studying the interplay between the characteristics of the oven and the quality of bakery products.

 

Read more

See Mette Stenby Andresen’s PhD thesis: Experimentally supported mathematical modeling of continuous baking processes (pdf). 

Also read the article in DTU Avisen No. 8: Småkager skal bages i bedre ovne. (an article on baking cookies in improved ovens in Danish).

Read more about research in food technology at the National Food Institute.