Putting on the Best Confectionery Coating

Panning is the process of building up, in a controlled way, layers of sugar, sweetener or chocolate coating on cores of fondant, fruit, nuts, etc., using a revolving copper or stainless steel pan. These products are characterized by a smooth, regular surface obtained by the polishing action in the pan.

European Baker & Biscuit magazine took part in a special presentation at ISM Cologne trade show this year, and was able to gain insight from leading experts into the process of confectionery coating.

Panning is usually a slow process involving small batches, but with automation, one operator can monitor a bank of ten or more pans through all stages of the process. Pan speeds vary according to the size of the center: large nuts for example require speeds of 15 rpm and sugar grains speeds of 30-35 rpm. Air at 35-65°C is blown into the pan to give rapid drying of sugar layers, to remove dust and to remove frictional heat. During panning, the pieces are periodically removed and sieved to eliminate waste and break up any clumps. Additionally a small block of smooth wood in the pan helps to prevent clumping.

There are two main types of pan-coated products, depending on the type of coating used:

  • Hard coatings

Centers are coated with a sweetener solution that is added at a rate of 10-15% of the weight of the centers. This crystallizes in successive layers and a hard coating is built up around the centers. If nuts are used, they should first be sealed with gum arabic/wheat flour mixture to prevent oil seepage during storage.

Coatings are traditionally made from 60-65% sucrose or dextrose syrups. More recently sugarless coatings have been made from sorbitol syrup. Flavoring is added to each charge of wetting syrup and coloring is added in increasing concentration to the last five or six wettings. Corn flour may be added after each wetting to reduce sticking of the pieces but over-use results in agglomeration of the product. Bees’ wax, paraffin oil or carnauba wax is used to coat polishing pans and to shine hard-pan products. Alternatively, they may be glazed using a mixture of shellac in isopropanol.

  • Soft coatings

Complex mixtures of liquid syrup and crystalline sugar are prepared as the centers for soft-coated confectionery such as jelly-beans. Because of the use of anti-crystallizing agents in the liquid phase, the outer layers will only partially crystallize when added during pan coating. Successive wettings of 60% glucose syrup are therefore followed by addition of fine castor sugar until the surfaces dry and produce an amorphous soft coating. The hardness of the coating is determined by the ratio of anti-crystallizing agents in the syrup. The process should be stopped after two or three stages and the partially coated centers removed and allowed to dry for 2–3 hours. The final coating is dried using icing sugar and the products are then dried for two days at 20°C in a dust-free room.

You can read the rest of this article in your complimentary e-copy of the March-April Issue of European Baker & Biscuit magazine, which you can access by clicking here.

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