Market-leading Memory Lane Cakes in Cardiff, part of the Finsbury Food Group, have replaced old mixing equipment and expanded production capacity with new rotating discharge Horizontal Helical Blade Mixers (HHBM) from John R Boone of Congleton, UK. The HHBM mixers are being used to produce a wide range of cake batters, buttercream fillings and toppings that find their way into branded and own label cakes sold in the majority of the UK’s major retailers.
It isn’t easy, keeping pace with the changing tastes of the British sweet-toothed consumer, and the leading supermarkets have a lively programme of product development to continue to excite the shopper with new styles and flavours of cakes. So much so, that Memory Lane have more than a hundred different recipes for buttercream fillings and toppings, and that’s before you even get to the batters that are mixed for the cakes themselves.
In production terms, the ‘creams’ present more challenges than the batters. In a domestic kitchen butter would typically be warmed before mixing, but under factory conditions a mixer has to cope with butter in 5kg blocks being added at 8-10ºC. Memory Lane also produce ‘ganache’, a mixture of around 60% chocolate with 30-40% cream, which also present the same issues of quickly ‘conditioning’ the mixture to a homogenous, smooth paste.
Memory Lane is a very well established company, and many of the mixers on site were more than 30 years old. Paul Riley, Head of Engineering at Memory Lane, wanted to bring the mixing process up to date and looked for a company who could supply mixers cost-effectively and who had a good track record in supplying equipment for this application. Following discussions, John R Boone recommended a Horizontal Helical Blade Mixer (HHBM). Paul Riley said: “We contacted John R Boone and 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 we had previously”. He went on “We found the Boone mixer to be very quiet and stable in operation compared to the older types.” Mixing times are around 3-4 minutes depending on recipe.
The HHBM features four mixing blades forming a double interrupted spiral that create a criss-cross material flow and the low-speed motor results in rapid, efficient mixing. The ‘short and tall’ mixer shape combined with the omega shaped shell ensures all the mix is entrained by the blades.
The ability to clean the mixers thoroughly between batches is very important, and JR Boone HHBM mixers excel here. The patented mixer arms minimise adherence of the mix, and the rotating trough discharge provides a complete discharge of the mix. As Paul Riley observes: “The Boone mixers are easy to clean, easy to wash down. Once they have been washed they look like a new machine”.
The control panel HMI features a simple interface using a hygienic, easily operated colour touch screen and holds all the recipe data, including mix times and order of addition. The system has the capability of being integrated within a factory wide control system although presently the recipe data is stored on a memory card and downloaded as required for the seasons production.
The results have clearly been to Memory Lane’s liking, with six JR Boone HHBM mixers already installed and a seventh on order. As Paul Riley put it: “Robust, designed well and easy to work on”.