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Mixing it up to stay ahead of buttercream trends

30 January 2017

Cardiff-based Memory Lane Cakes, part of the Finsbury Food Group, has replaced old mixing equipment and expanded production capacity with new rotating discharge horizontal helical blade mixers (HHBM) to allow it to keep pace with demand for its cake batters, buttercream fillings and toppings. 

To ensure it keeps pace with fast-changing customer and consumer demands the company needs to be able to provide a wide product range – it offers over 100 different recipes for buttercream fillings and toppings in addition to a variety of batters that are mixed for the cakes themselves.

In production terms, the ‘creams’ present more challenges than the batters. In factory conditions a mixer needs to be able to cope with butter in 5kg blocks being added at temperatures of between 8 and 10°C. Memory Lane also produce ganache – a mixture of around 60% chocolate with 30-40% cream – which can also present the mixers with the same issue, as it is necessary to quickly ‘condition’ the mixture to form a homogenous, smooth paste.

Paul Riley, head of engineering at Memory Lane, wanted to update the equipment used at the site to bring the equipment up to date as some of the mixers in use were over 30 years old. He looked for a company who would be able to supply mixers cost-effectively and one which had a good track record in supplying equipment for similar applications. Following discussions about the company’s requirements, John R Boone suggested the use of its HHBM. Riley said: “We took a mixer on trial. We tested it on every type of mix we make because it mixes in a different way from the ‘lift and throw’ type of mixers we had previously been used to. We found the new mixer to be very quiet and stable in operation compared to the older types.” Mixing times are around 3-4 minutes depending on recipe.

Fast and efficient mixing
The HHBM features four mixing blades that form a double interrupted spiral which creates a criss-cross material flow and a low-speed motor that aids fast and efficient mixing. The ‘short and tall’ mixer shape, combined with the omega-shaped shell helps ensure that all the mix is entrained by the blades. 

The ability to thoroughly clean the mixers between batches is an important consideration for any food manufacturer. The mixer arms of the HHBM are said to minimise adherence of the mix, and the rotating trough discharge provides a complete discharge of the mix. Memory Lane Cakes confirms that this is the case. Riley said: “Our new mixers are easy to clean and to wash down”. 

The HMI control panel on the mixer features a simple interface that incorporates a hygienic, colour touch screen. The unit is able to hold all the recipe data, including mix times and order of addition. The system also has the ability to integrated into a factory wide control system although at the current time Memory Lane Cakes is storing its recipe data on a memory card and downloading this information as it is required for the seasons production. 

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