The idea for pre-mix baking began with a surplus of molasses. In the late 1920s, Pittsburgh-based P. Duff and Sons Company had an overabundance of molasses and started looking for ways to use it. The company's solution involved forming a powdered mixture of dried molasses and flour, along with dried eggs and other ingredients, to make gingerbread. All a consumer needed to do was add water. This first baking pre-mix came on the market in 1929 and was soon followed by other flavors.
Today, boxes containing dry, pre-mixed baking ingredients can be found in every grocery store and supermarket throughout the United States and much of the world. While the pre-mix baking industry only began to take off after World War 2, these easily made baking products came to be used by more than just consumers. Commercial and retail bakeries now also benefit from the consistency in finished products; these pre-mixed formulas simplify the baking process, save bakeries time, and reduce human error.
How Consistency Contributes to Quality in Pre-Mix Baking
Consistency is vital for any baker, whether a commercial bakery or a consumer doing their baking. Although flour varies in composition according to the conditions in which the wheat is raised, the standards and formulas of pre-mix baking products must meet tight specifications between batches to achieve consistent results. Both retail bakeries and consumers depend on a reliable end product, which stipulates that the processes and practices manufacturers use also be consistent. For this reason, many customers want to know how the pre-mix baking formula they bought was made.
Pre-Mix Baking: Consistency and Flour
First, making reliable and consistent pre-mix baking products requires high-quality flour, yet every batch of milled flour will differ slightly in its composition. Flours vary widely in their absorbent capabilities, mixing tolerances, and protein levels, which are at least partially determined during processing. The flour used in baking must also perform well during each production stage, from mixing to holding and from baking to packaging the end product.
Much of the consistency in pre-mix baking comes from protein quality in the grains used, though it’s challenging to measure protein quality until the final product comes out of the oven. Retail bakeries and amateur consumers have begun working with alternative flour types, including whole wheat, rye, oats, bran, ancient grains, and nuts, to create multi-grain bread for pre-mixes. Baking with these alternatives to various white flour makes unique pre-mix baking products.
Pre-mix baking has started to use ancient grain flours from these and other sources like nuts, rice, and cauliflower.
- Amaranth has an earthy and peppery flavor profile used in various grain-based baking pre-mixes to provide balance.
- Buckwheat can be found in pre-mix baking products such as pancakes, bread and sweet foods, offering a nutty and earthy flavor and a brownish hue.
- Millet is typically used for its cost-effectiveness, as it’s one of the least expensive ancient grains; its slightly sweet yet neutral flavor works well in mixtures to make both savory and sweet products like bread, cookies, or pizza pre-mixes.
- Quinoa has a flavor profile that’s slightly nutty though mild-tasting, making it perfect for introducing supplemental nutrients within pre-mixes for baked goods, grain blends, and hot cereals.
- Sorghum flour offers a wheat-like flavor, with its mild taste perfect for pre-mix baking products like bread, cakes, and cookies.
- Spelt flour has a mild flavor that makes it perfect for pre-mix baking all sorts of breads, buns and rolls, pancakes, and other multi-grain mixtures.
Choosing the right flour for a pre-mix baking product involves looking at labels like “all-purpose flour” or “bread flour.” These labeled flours often vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, affecting not only taste but the consistency of the end product. Additionally, other flours are increasingly used in pre-mix baking formulas, including specialty grain, pulse-based, and even gluten-free flours.
Achieving Consistency at Scale in Pre-Mix Baking
Large-scale operations combine a baker’s artistry with mass production. Whether making pre-mixed ingredients for consumers or retail and commercial bakeries, consistent methods must be used to create a consistent product. This entails using the correct equipment and following the same processes every time. To ensure consistency at scale, it takes machinery that’s more accurate than the measuring cups in a consumer’s kitchen.
That’s why automated control systems are often utilized to formulate baking pre-mixtures at scale. Having the means to control speed and torque reliably produces predictable and repeatable results. Deviating from established processes often brings very different outcomes; unpredictability is the bane of pre-mix baking, which is meant to deliver a uniform product every time.
For this reason, manufacturers of pre-mix baking products need to collaborate with their equipment and systems makers. Better yet, an equipment vendor with testing facilities allows manufacturers to assess different blending processes and equipment carefully. Examining these pre-mix baking formulas helps manufacturers determine times and speeds at each production stage. For example, while flour requires a slow speed, sugar and shortening must be mixed at a much higher velocity.
Having pre-defined mixing patterns that can be reliably repeated also saves time and energy while preventing any irregularities in the end product. In some cases, it also helps prevent a mixture from becoming too thick, which may fail a mixer or other equipment. Automated systems also control the voltage fed to a mixer, manage switching frequencies, reduce noise levels, increase equipment reliability, and keep maintenance costs down.
Prater Pre-Mix Baking Equipment
Prater Industries makes high-quality particle reduction equipment ideal for use in the pre-mix baking industry. Our lump breakers easily handle clumped ingredients, allowing bakers to condition lumped ingredients to ensure batch consistency and quality, while our rotary sifters screen out larger particles. Prater’s hammer mills or sifters also help separate and deagglomerate fine particles in blended mixtures. We can combine our industrial machinery into fully working systems for specific applications or incorporate a single piece into an existing system.
Prater pre-mix baking equipment includes:
With the growing market for pre-mix baking ingredients for commercial bakeries and consumers, Prater will continue to innovate to provide ever-more versatile products for our customers. Our experienced and helpful technicians can answer any questions about the production of pre-mixed baking ingredients. We invite you to contact Prater today to learn more and determine the type of equipment or system needed to meet your specific application requirements.