The end of a sticky situation?
As more bakeware hits the market offering claims of coatings that make greasing of tins wholly or partially redundant, is non-stick bakeware making release agents defunct for bakers? And if so, are there potential cost savings for bakers investing in non-stick bakeware compared to using release agents?
Non-stick coatings range from clear silicon glaze to Teflon. However, Teflon is best used on automated plants or at bakeries where bakeware is handled with care. Careless stacking of tins and straps will reduce the life of Teflon coating, reaching a point where the coating can break down.
Gary Atkinson, technical director, of AAK Bakery Services, which supplies release agents that are designed to enable baked products to be removed without damage from pans, sheets or oven bands, says that although hard-glazed bread pans work well, they require high levels of maintenance and regular re-glazing to maintain the effectiveness. This can be very costly for the bakery, especially if they are mis-handled during loading and unloading onto the lines.
"By moving to a slightly softer tin coating in conjunction with a small, carefully applied coating of a release agent, the interval between the re-coating of the tins can be significantly extended and the bakery can make significant cost savings than through using a 'greaseless' system alone," claims Atkinson. "Working in conjunction with our technical services and engineering teams we can supply the right release agent along with bespoke application systems to ensure that the release agent is used efficiently and hygienically to give trouble-free, cost-effective release."
Material type, thickness and tin construction - welded seams or deep drawing - need to suit the methods of handling and the number of releases required between refurbishment. Cost is therefore reflected in this process of design. Kaak Bakeware offers a range of coatings to suit breads and confectionery; tin and strap design will be largely defined by the production style, batch sizes, quantities per batch and baking profiles.
Kaak Bakeware offers 'in-house' supply of bakeware from concept to final product using 3D computer design and robotic fabrication to the exacting tolerances which are necessary for automated bakeries. This process also allows small batches of tins to be supplied to craft bakers.
So what are the potential cost savings in non-stick bakeware? "Non-stick coatings, silicon or Teflon, can show profitable returns on investment but only when the coating is not subject to mechanical damage and refurbishment occurs after a pre-described number of releases - variably between 2,000 and 4,000," says John Singleton, sales manager at UK Kaak supplier Benier. "The use of a coating may allow less release agent to be applied, which assists in increasing the number of releases obtained."
There are other benefits to using release agents, says Richard Field, customer communications advisor at ingredient manufacturer Zeelandia. One is the cost saving during the baking process itself.
"When baking tin bread, a release agent is paramount for the longevity of the bread tin as well as the perfect release of the baked loaf," he says. "During the process release agents are exposed to oxygen and very high oven temperatures - up to 250C - that ordinary oils and fats cannot withstand. Due to the contact with oxygen, a process is set in motion that begins with oxidation and leads to carbonisation. Once a layer of carbon has been built up, the transfer of heat deteriorates and the release and baking process becomes increasingly uneconomical."
Release agents, such as Zeelandia's Carlo, help release steam during the baking process, which aids crust formation and helps crust colour development, claims Field. Zeelandia's release agents, which are resistant to oxidation, also cling to the side of the tin, ensuring even release.
So the best savings come from striking the right balance between the needs of your process and the benefits of non-stick bakeware and release agents - ask your supplier for advice.