Measuring the Rheological Characteristics of Dough

Chopin Technology’s Alveolab is ideally suited to measuring the rheological characteristics of a bubble of dough during deformation. The Alveolab comprises two inseparable parts - a kneading machine for sample preparation and the alveograph itself, where the dough patty is deformed into a bubble until it ruptures.

The Alveolab is supplied with the full range of accessories necessary to manage the dough: the extrusion plate, steel roller, cutter, laminating plates, resting plates, knife, spatula and a dropper for the oil. It also includes a filling hopper, a brush and a mini PC, a central unit dedicated to running the Alveolab.

Preparing the Device

Before powering up the device, the water tank should be filled with salted water at 2.5%, if necessary. Once the device is on, the initialization will take 5 minutes. Finally, the mini PC can be turned on, and the Alveolab will be ready to run.

To run a test, it is necessary to first configure the test in the software. This involves clicking on ‘Test,’ selecting ‘Start a test,’ and choosing the appropriate protocol. The user should enter the name of the test, select a partner and a product and then indicate the water content of the flour.

Clicking on ‘Next’ will provide a summary of the test configuration. Once these settings are correct, the user can click again on ‘Start a test’ and then follow the indications given by the software.

Commencing the Test

They will be asked to weigh 250 g of flour to an accuracy of plus or minus 0.5 g before placing the hopper on top of the mixing bowl and gradually inserting the flour.

Once all the parameters have reached the reference values, the device will prompt the user to start the water dosage by positioning the water injection nozzle on the tank and pressing the mixing button to begin this process.

Once water injection is complete, the nozzle can be removed, cleaned and returned to its support. The dough should be allowed to form for 1 minute before opening the cover and using the plastic spatula provided to reincorporate any flour and dough adhering to the F register and the corners of the kneading machine.

This operation can be repeated two or three times, but this step should take less than 1 minute overall. Once the cover is closed, the dough will be kneaded for 6 minutes. It is advisable to oil the accessories required for extrusion while this is taking place.

When the mixing stops, after 8 minutes, the user can open the extrusion aperture by raising the F register, allowing them to start extruding the dough test pieces.

The first centimeter of dough should be removed using a knife by cutting in a clean downward movement. Once the strip of dough has reached a sufficient length, it can be cut and the piece of dough placed onto the laminating plate.

The dough pieces should be sheeted 12 times using the roller. Then, using the cutter, a test piece can be cut and any surplus dough removed, and the obtained patty placed on a resting plate before being transferred to the resting chamber for 20 minutes.

The user needs to repeat this operation with five dough pieces in total. It is advisable to take advantage of the resting time to clean the kneader by removing the flange, any remaining dough, the blade and the F register.

These components can be cleaned carefully by immersing them in water. The mixing bowl can be cleaned using a damp cloth. Once the mixer is clean and dry, another test can begin, even if the first test is still ongoing.

The loading pad will be displayed 28 minutes after beginning the kneading. This should be oiled and the first dough piece placed on it. The user should also place an additional drop of oil onto the dough piece before pressing the ‘Start test’ button.

The loading buffer will move the dough piece up to the plate and lock it in place at the test station. Once the dough is in place and crushed, the pad is automatically removed, and the device injects air into the dough. During this process, the pressure in the bubble will be measured, and a curve will appear onscreen.

The test is considered finished when the bubble bursts. The device automatically detects the bursting bubble in real-time. At this point, the plate is loosened, and the dough drops into the recovery tank. These steps are then performed on the four remaining dough pieces, according to the order of extrusion.

Results are determined by calculating the average of the five curves obtained. This is referred to as an ‘alveogram.’

Once all tests are completed, the user can clean the plate using a dry cloth, close the software and switch off the device.

Chopin Alveolab - How to Conduct a Test

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by KPM Analytics.

For more information on this source, please visit KPM Analytics.

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