Traditional Russian gingerbread cookies have always been considered a delicious delicacy and were in demand both in our country and as souvenir products abroad. There is competition in this segment, however, mainly gingerbread is produced for the domestic market. Experts are sure that domestic manufacturers have great prospects for importing their products into European countries. And in Russia, gingerbread from ordinary confectionery turns into an unusual souvenir and gift products.
According to the scientific definition, gingerbread cookies are flour confectionery products of various shapes that contain a significant amount of sugary substances and various spices. It is thanks to the last component of the sweet treat that it got this name. The gingerbread group also includes the so-called shortbread or gingerbread - a baked semi-finished product from gingerbread dough, layered with fruit filling or jam and having a rectangular or round flat shape.
Despite the wide variety of shapes and sizes, there are only two main types of gingerbread, which differ depending on the method of their production: custard and raw . In turn, these types of gingerbread may differ in the presence or absence of the filling and the external finish. Products with fillings appeared relatively recently, thanks to the advent of modern industrial production technologies. The filling can be chocolate (from white or black chocolate), fruit (peach, apple, plum) or berry (raspberry, strawberry, blueberry). To decorate the product, sugar syrup icing with or without additives can be used, with chocolate icing, with sugar sprinkling, nut kernels, poppy seeds, etc.
The most difficult and costly from a technological point of view is the production of glazed custard cakes with filling. But it is they who are most in demand among buyers, thanks to the original forms that children and adults like so much.
The main raw materials for the production of gingerbread are wheat flour of the highest, first or second grade and granulated sugar. In addition to these main ingredients, depending on the formulation, the composition of the product may include honey, fats, molasses, flavors, raisins, confiture, dyes, soy or rye flour, candied fruit. A distinctive feature of the original Russian gingerbread cookies is the so-called “dry spirits” or a bouquet that are part of them. Such a poetic name means a mixture of spices, which consists of cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, black pepper. Honey, although considered an expensive product, is added with or instead of sugar to improve product quality. The product from the "honey" dough is stored longer, not stale, and has a special delicate aroma and taste.
The production of any kind of gingerbread can consist of several main stages: preparing flour for production, preparing sugar-syrup and circulation syrups, saline, melting fat, kneading dough, molding, baking, circulating, cooling gingerbread cookies and packing them. All this is done using flow-mechanized equipment.
To prepare raw gingerbread dough, sugar syrup is preliminarily prepared. To do this, sugar, molasses and honey are boiled with water, which ultimately gives a syrupy mass of dense consistency. The syrup is cooled to 20-22 degrees Celsius, as a result of which its density should be about 1.31-1.32 g / cubic meter. see. In principle, the dough can be prepared without dissolving sugar in advance. But in this case, the kneading procedure will take much longer. Gingerbread dough is kneaded in special kneading machines with a stationary vat. Raw materials are loaded into this vat in a certain order.
First, sugar is poured or ready and chilled sugar syrup, water, honey, molasses, melange and dry perfume are poured (spiced mixture). In a kneading machine, all the ingredients are mixed for 3-4 minutes. Then flour and chemical baking powder are introduced into the mixture, after which the dough is kneaded for another 10-15 minutes. It is very important to monitor the temperature and humidity of the raw dough. Its temperature should not be higher than 20-22 degrees Celsius, and the moisture content should be in the range of 24-26%. Too high temperature and long cutting of the dough can lead to a “tightening” due to significant swelling of gluten.
Gingerbread cakes from prolonged or too dry dough turn out to be hard and tasteless, and with high humidity products will not hold their shape well and stick inside. To avoid tightening, raw dough is prepared in small portions. Each of them is cut in 15-20 minutes.
Unlike custard products, raw gingerbread stale too quickly during storage. To increase their shelf life and improve their taste, manufacturers often add invert syrup (syrup substitute, which is made from sugar, water and citric acid) to the dough instead of sugar in its pure form, or they prepare the dough in warm syrup at a temperature of about 38-40 degrees Celsius . Since when adding warm syrup, the temperature of the dough rises above the recommended 20-22 degrees, which is fraught with a puff, the time of its cutting is reduced to 7-8 minutes.
The above dough preparation technology may vary, depending on the region and manufacturer. So, for example, the dough of both Vyazma and Tula gingerbreads is kneaded on sugar syrup, cooled to 30-35 degrees Celsius. However, if for Tula gingerbread dough is kneaded for 30-40 minutes, for Vyazma kneading it takes only 7-8 minutes. But in that, and in another case, the test temperature is about 28 degrees, and humidity - about 19%.
The technology for making custard gingerbread dough is slightly different. Its preparation includes three stages: cooking syrup, tea leaves, kneading dough. In this case, to obtain a syrup, sugar, honey, molasses and margarine are mixed with water and the mixture is heated to 85-100 degrees Celsius. The density of the finished syrup should be the same as for raw gingerbread. As a result of mixing the flour with syrup, the temperature of which before mixing is about 65-75 degrees, get tea leaves. Its temperature is slightly lower - about 50 degrees Celsius. If the syrup is hot, then, on the one hand, the flour will swell better, as a result of which the quality of the finished product will become better.
On the other hand, the higher the temperature of the syrup, the slower the tea leaves cool. And its temperature when mixed with other raw materials should not exceed 30 degrees. Previously, the gingerbread recipe was kept in a cold room for a long time - from a month to a year. It was believed that the longer the dough settles down, the tastier the finished gingerbread will be. Although, of course, such a long cooking time is simply unacceptable for industrial production.
Modern technologists claim that “baking” does not matter so much for the quality of the finished gingerbread, since the composition of the tea leaves does not change during long-term storage. Therefore, now the cooling time of the tea leaves does not exceed six days. To do this, lay it in layers on baking sheets, grease it with vegetable oil or pour it with crumbs so that it does not stick together. However, in most enterprises, the tea leaves are cooled immediately after its manufacture using a kneading machine with a water jacket.
Sometimes, in order to reduce the cooking time of the custard dough, syrup with a temperature of 50-55 degrees is used. Then the temperature of the infusion is about 39 degrees, and it cools faster than usual. Immediately after cooling, the tea leaves are mixed with baking powder and flavorings. Choux pastry is kneaded in a kneading machine with cooling for 25-30 minutes. If cold syrup is used, it takes less than ten minutes to knead. The temperature of the test is about 30 degrees, and its humidity is about 20%.
The finished gingerbread dough enters the receiving funnel of a forming-depositing or stamping machine. Sometimes it is molded manually. In automated production, the machine does all the work. Some types of gingerbread are molded using metal and wooden molds. Products molded into wooden forms are called printed. They are intended primarily for children. The dough is pressed into the mold manually or with special wooden blocks. After that, the workpiece is removed from the mold and sent to bake.
The manufacturing technology of gingerbread with filling is slightly different. In this case, approximately half of the dough is rolled out using a rolling pin into one thin layer on which the filling is laid. On top of it lay a molded layer of dough from a wooden mold. Both pieces of text are connected to the edges so that the filling is inside and the picture is not broken. This puff pastry with a filling is baked in the same way as ordinary products.
When forming several varieties of gingerbread, a blank of two rolled out layers of dough with a filling layer between them is first laid into shape. Wooden molds are pre-lubricated with oil, so that later it is easier to separate the molded workpieces from them. The dough for the carriages is also rolled out into a layer 11–13 mm thick. The thickness of the blanks for custard gingerbread does not exceed 8-11 mm, and for raw - 10-13 mm. Gingerbread cookies are shaped round on a special jigging machine (it can also be used to produce sugar cookies of various grades and shapes).
The dough is fed into the funnel, in the lower part of which two rolls, rotating towards each other, push the dough into the forming matrix. The matrix gives the workpieces the desired shape. Depending on the consistency of the test used, you can select various modes of operation of the equipment. For example, if the dough is liquid, then it is dosed. And when forming thick varieties, the dough at the exit is obtained in the form of tows, which are cut into individual slices using a moving string.
Gingerbread cookies themselves are baked on steel tape, stencils or wire mesh. The baking time of custard gingerbread in conveyor belts (which are more common) or in rotary kilns is from 7 to 12 minutes at a temperature of 200-240 degrees Celsius. The duration of baking can vary depending on the temperature of the oven, the degree of filling, humidity of the dough from which the workpieces are made, and the type of product. For example, “Mint” gingerbread cookies that are not glazed are baked at lower temperatures (190-210 degrees Celsius). This avoids the appearance of a dark crust on their surface. And Tula gingerbread cookies are baked at a temperature of 265-270 degrees for 5-6 minutes.
And in fact, and in another case, before baking, the preforms first pass through the humidification chamber. When the gingerbread cookies are ready, they are removed from the oven and cooled for 20-22 minutes to a temperature of 40-45 degrees. Products are removed from the mesh or steel tape only when they themselves are easily separated from the surface. If the gingerbread cookies are baked on sheets, then after they exit the oven they are installed together with the products on special racks.
When the gingerbread cookies are completely dry, they go through the circulation procedure: chilled products are loaded in large batches weighing up to 20 kg into a pan, and poured with sugar syrup at a temperature of 85-95 degrees. Gingerbread cookies are in this boiler for about 1-2 minutes, and then they are unloaded and dried for ten minutes at a temperature of about 60 degrees. If necessary, the products are decorated, dried again (by blowing air) and sent to the packaging.
If the gingerbread cookies are intended for sale by weight, they are packed in cardboard, wooden or plywood boxes. Small items (over 30 pieces per kilogram) are packed in bulk, and larger ones are packed. Gingerbread cookies, which are sold already packed, are scattered in cardboard boxes of a certain size or in plastic bags with a paper liner or sticker.
There are certain requirements for storage facilities where finished products are stored. They must be dry and clean, not infected with barn pests. The rooms are maintained at a temperature of no more than 18 ° C and relative humidity of 65-75%. Shelf life depends on the type of product and season. Raw unglazed products, except for mint gingerbread, can be stored for 20 days. The shelf life of mint gingerbread cookies does not exceed 10 days in the summer and 15 days in the winter. Raw glazed products can be stored for up to 30 days, and custard products for a maximum of 45 days.
A domestic-made molding machine with unloading onto a baking sheet and one matrix in a set will cost from 330 to 650 thousand rubles, depending on productivity. The cheapest equipment allows you to produce 100-250 kg of products per hour, and the most expensive - up to a thousand kilograms of gingerbread per hour. One matrix for the molding machine will cost about 20 thousand rubles. You will also need a baking sheet and a cooling conveyor. A circulation drum for glazing gingerbread cookies costs from 90 thousand rubles (productivity 150-600 kg per hour) to 110 thousand rubles (productivity 450-1000 kg per hour). About 70 thousand rubles will have to be paid for a panning machine for glazing gingerbread. You will also need a sifter, an electric cooking boiler, a dough mixer, a flour bowl, a rack trolley, a rotary electric oven, production tables, scales up to 10 kg and up to 100 kg.
To install this equipment will need production facilities with an area of at least 70 square meters. meters and warehouses. The productivity of the middle line is about 120 kg per hour, and its installed capacity is 63 kW. Four people are enough for her service.
In addition to organizing the production of gingerbread itself, already at the planning stage it is worth thinking about where you will sell finished products. These can be dealers, retail chains and individual outlets. Beautifully decorated and packaged gingerbread cookies of various shapes - this is an excellent souvenir product. Some Russian manufacturers sell it through souvenir shops and stalls in the cities of the Golden Ring of Russia, shops at monasteries, and their own online stores.
If you produce high-quality exclusive products, then your own website and advertising on other resources on the Internet may be perhaps the best way to increase the number of your customers. Traditional advertising media in this case are unlikely to be quite effective. But do not forget about themed exhibitions, where you can find new partners. In addition, you can agree on cooperation with advertising agencies (gingerbread with company symbols is an excellent and unforgettable corporate gift), with schools and kindergartens, and pastry shops that manufacture custom-made cakes.
The production of gingerbread is considered a profitable business, since the demand for these products is stably high, and its shelf life is relatively long. The use of high-quality raw materials and the development of our own recipes is the key to the success of an enterprise that is going to manufacture such confectionery. The profitability of this type of confectionery business is about 20%, and the payback period is 13-15 months.
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