The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Industrial equipment question

LEVBaker's picture

Industrial equipment question

So, we've got a pretty large factory in my small town that is ran by 6 mixers, and 16 packers. However, I've recently been moved from packing to mixing, and the machinery is quite intimidating. I've learned tons about them already, but I'd love to know more.


For starters, i'll explain the process that we use.

Raw materials are scaled up and placed into our huge mixer. After mixing, the dough drops down into a tub, which we pull over to a fork, that lifts it to our hopper. the hopper feeds it into the divider, which places 5 pieces on finger belts, carrying them to the formers. After they form, they drop onto our boards and go around the belt track, and into the proofer.

Here's where my first question is.

What exactly does the proofer do? Humidity and high temperature for yeast activation/moisture are the only things I know.

After a certain amount of time has passed, the bagel racks send it to our grabber, which pulls the bagels from the boards and sends them into something i THINK is called a broiler.

Second question. What does the broiler do? I notice ALOOOT of steam comes out of it, and the bagles are a bit more wet than when they went in.

From the broiler, they go through the oven and then it's a packing thing.

Thanks ahead of time for any responses!

LindyD's picture

From your description, it sounds as if the bagels are steamed instead of boiled.  

Quoting from Wikipedia on bagels:

Bagels are traditionally made by:

  • mixing and kneading the ingredients to form the dough
  • shaping the dough into the traditional bagel shape, round with a hole in the middle
  • proofing the bagels for at least 12 hours at low temperature (40-50 °F = 4.5-10 °C)
  • boiling each bagel in water that may or may not contain additives such as lyebaking sodabarley malt syrup, or honey
  • baking at between 175 °C and 315 °C (about 350-600 °F)

It is this unusual production method which is said to give bagels their distinctive taste, chewy texture, and shiny appearance. In the context of Jewish culture, this process provided an additional advantage in that it could be followed without breaking the no-work rule of the Sabbath. The dough would be prepared on the day before, chilled during the day, and boiled and baked only after the end of the Sabbath, therefore using the Sabbath as a productive time in the bagel-making process (as the dough needs to slowly rise in a chilled environment for a time before cooking)

In recent years, a variant of this process has emerged, producing what is sometimes called the steam bagel. To make a steam bagel, the process of boiling is skipped, and the bagels are instead baked in an oven equipped with a steam injection system.[12]  In commercial bagel production, the steam bagel process requires less labor, since bagels need only be directly handled once, at the shaping stage. Thereafter, the bagels need never be removed from their pans as they are refrigerated and then steam-baked. The steam-bagel is not considered to be a genuine bagel by purists, as it results in a fluffier, softer, less chewy product more akin to a finger roll that happens to be shaped like a bagel.