Question: How to cost-effectively implement a high volume French macaron production line while maintaining great product quality?
Pro bakers recognize that scaling a small operation isn’t always as straight forward as one would like. High volume manufacturing operations are built upon exacting, simple, repeatable procedures which aren’t reliant on personnel expertise and know-how. To maintain quality, much of the work is performed by machines, machines that are right for the job. When it comes to baking lots of macarons, consistent batter performance, and product look and feel are without saying very important.
We had learned of Bakon USA and their products years ago and wondered if we could do some experimentation with their one of a kind depositor- the Drop TT. Last week, we got a chance to try our Single Step French Macaron Mix with the Drop TT and below is a summary of half day’s worth of experimentation.
The Drop TT is a tabletop depositor that can fill a large tray in about 20 seconds! And with its continuous automatic conveyor, all the user has to do is fill its tank with batter, select a program and push start! Feed it one tray after another and you’ll have thousands of shells piped in no time! So that is the theory…
The Drop TT has a 30 lbs bin and uses gravity and rotating screws to push the batter through six nozzles sitting below the bin. The size of macaron is determined by how long the screws are rotated. This is part of programming the machine, which also depends on the viscosity of the batter being pumped into the nozzles. For things to work consistently, the batter must have exactly the same characteristics every time. You can also program how many rows and the distance between the rows. We now need to make pounds of batter that is just right for this tech marvel.
Making 20-30 pounds of macaron batter using the traditional make-from-scratch approach would have taken us over an hour of measuring, sifting and folding. Using the Angel Bake single step macaron baking mix, we completed the job in 10 minutes with a pro Hobart mixer. The beauty of using a mix is that we have full control of moisture, mixer speed and mixing time and, as a result, we can deliver precisely the same batter every time! And as an added bonus, the kitchen was left squeaky clean. We didn’t have to crack any eggs (or keep a freezer full of egg whites) or sift and mix ponds of almond flour and sugar. Imagine having to make Italian meringue?
For our first batch, we used 4 KG (8.8 lbs) of the Angel Bake Single Step French Macaron Baking Mix along with 800 grams of 122 ºF water. Keeping with the instructions on the box, we started the Hobart at slow speed (setting one), ran for one minute and shifted to 2nd gear for 3.5 minutes. In no time, we had 10.5 lbs of batter. For our part, we watched the Hobart spin and took pictures.
With the help of our Bakon representative, we poured the batter into their Drop TT bin, called up the macaron program and lined up the trays. Ah, we did have to prime the pump by running in continuous mode for a few seconds. Once the nozzles were primed, we were ready to watch the show.
In no time we had five trays ready. The oven could only take four. So we stopped and off into a 280 ºF convection oven (fan speed was set to medium). With fingers crossed, we stared at the shells baking and watched as they slowly turned into perfect macarons! Here too, we didn’t drop the trays on the floor nor did we pop any air bubbles with toothpicks. We didn’t even wait for the shells to dry…
In half an hour, we had four trays done. With a larger oven, we could have done much more as we had more trays and batter in the Drop TT.
Having demonstrated success, we decided it was time to push the envelope. Could we whip up a monster 8KG batch? Why not try? Despite the Hobart suggesting max of 4KG, we went ahead and emptied two boxes of our Single Step Angel Bake French macaron mix into the mixer, 1600 grams of water and a pinch of the Angel Bake powdered food coloring for good luck.
You know the drill, mix at low speed for one minute and then medium for 3.5 minutes at medium speed. Below is a picture of the Hobart and as you can see the Hobart is full!
The ribbon lava like flow was heartwarming!
Let the Drop TT perform its magic… This is really fun to watch. We’ll post videos soon.
And the results? No trouble.
Check to make sure macarons aren’t hollow…
In closing, we’d like to thank the folks at Bakon USA for giving us time to experiment with their Drop TT depositor. We managed to confirm that the Angel Bake Single Step French macaron mix is a perfect match for the Bakon Drop TT. We demonstrated that we were able to deliver consistent batter characteristics in a high volume setting, deposit thousands of shells in little time and bake perfect macarons. We are confident that you can achieve the same results in no time as well. We are here to help and get you started. We leave you with half day’s worth of work…