Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
METHODS AND APPARATUS FOR MANUFACTURING FOODSTUFFS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2002/043498
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
An apparatus, method and a process for preparing a three dimensional foodstuff, more preferably a biscuit spoon (3), wherein a suitable dough composition is prepared and inserted into a mould (1) for forming the desired shape, the mould (1) having a first body portion (4) with a first cavity (5) for moulding one portion of the biscuit spoon (3), and a second body portion with a second cavity shaped to mould the other portion of the spoon (3). Once moulded, the dough can be partially baked to form a set biscuit spoon (3) that can be removed and fully baked on a suitable tray, or removed and baked on suitable trays. The invention further includes a process for the baking of a three dimensional foodstuff requiring precise baking conditions and a suitable dough composition to maintain the desired shape of foodstuff.

Inventors:
Muollo, Justine Frances Fabrizia (31A Liffey Street, Island Bay, Wellington, NZ)
Application Number:
PCT/NZ2001/000264
Publication Date:
June 06, 2002
Filing Date:
November 29, 2001
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
FABRIZIA HOLDINGS LTD (31A Liffey Street, Island Bay, Wellington, NZ)
Muollo, Justine Frances Fabrizia (31A Liffey Street, Island Bay, Wellington, NZ)
International Classes:
A21C11/00; A21D10/00; A21D13/08; (IPC1-7): A21D/
Domestic Patent References:
1996-08-15
Foreign References:
GB2289431A1995-11-22
GB2203380A1988-10-19
US3831507A1974-08-27
US4606716A1986-08-19
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Piper, James William (Pipers, P.O. Box 30-495, Lower Hutt, NZ)
Download PDF:
Claims:
What we Claim is:
1. An apparatus for preparing a three dimensional foodstuff, the apparatus including a first body portion provided with a first cavity in a bearing face of the first body portion, the first cavity having a base and a side wall, the side wall and the base being shaped, in use, to mould one portion of the foodstuff, and a second body portion, opposing the bearing face of the first body portion, the second bearing face of the second body portion having a second cavity, the second cavity having a base and a side wall, the side wall and the base being shaped, in use, to mould the other portion of the foodstuff, the first body portion and the second body portion, in use, being adapted to be pressed together to align the first cavity and the second cavity and enable dough placed therebetween to mould and conform to the shape of the opposing first cavity and the second cavity.
2. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the second body portion is a baking tray that can be configured and arranged to be movable to an oven after forming of the foodstuff.
3. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein a plurality of first cavities and a plurality of corresponding second cavities in the apparatus.
4. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the first cavity is provided with a foodstuff cutting means.
5. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the first body portion is a metal mould block and the second body portion is a metal mould block, and wherein a first heating element is provided in the first mould block and a second heating element is provided in the second mould block.
6. An apparatus according to claim 5 wherein a temperature measuring means is associated with the first mould block and/or the second mould block.
7. An apparatus according to claim 6 and further comprising a controller means for controlling the operation of making a foodstuff, a mould handling means associated with the first mould block and the second mould block for opening, closing and positioning the first block and the second mould, a mould cleaning means for removing, in use, surplus dough placed between the first block and the second block and pressed out of the mould when the first block and the second block is closed.
8. An apparatus according to claim 7 further comprising a dough insertion means and/or a conveyor means.
9. An apparatus according to claim 8 wherein the first block and the second block is made from aluminium or stainless steel.
10. An apparatus according to claim 9 wherein the first block and the second block are coated with a nonstick substance.
11. An apparatus according to claim 4 wherein the apparatus is attached to a press, the plate and the body portion being attachable to a vertical support member and being adapted to be movable, in use, from a first open position, to a second closed position with the body portion meeting the tray, the tray being securable in place, the cavity of the body portion facing the other side of the product form on the tray.
12. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the foodstuff is a spoon.
13. A computer program associated with the controller means for carrying out the processing steps of manufacturing a foodstuff using the apparatus of claim 8, the program comprising the steps of : (A) heating the first block and the second block to a predetermined maximum temperature, and when reached, opening the mould; (B) inserting dough into the cavity between opposing faces of the first block and the second block; (C) closing the mould; (D) removing at least some of the excess dough from the outside faces of the mould; (E) partially baking the foodstuff at a predetermined temperature or between a predetermined minimum and maximum temperature for a predetermined period of time; and (F) opening the mould and ejecting the foodstuffs and closing the mould.
14. A process according to claim 13 wherein in step (E) the foodstuff is baked at between 160 to 180 degrees Celsius for between a predetermined time period of between 3 to 4 minutes.
15. A dough composition for the manufacture of a baked product, the dough composition including: a. about 5 to 15% by weight of a shortener ; b. about 15 to 30% by weight of sucrose, c. about 15 to 25% by weight of a glucose syrup, d. about 35 to 60% by weight of flour, e. about 0.5 to 2.5% by weight of a leavening agent; and f. a sufficient amount of moisture or water to form a suitable moisture content for the dough.
16. A composition according to claim 15 wherein the shortener is about 10% by weight, the sucrose content is about 23% by weight, the glucose syrup is about 18% by weigh, and the dough includes a content of about 46% by weight of the flour.
17. A composition according to claim 16 wherein the dough content is about 1% by weight of the leavening agent, and wherein in step f. the moisture or water used is of a sufficient amount to form a low to medium moisture content in the dough, and wherein the dough composition includes about 2% by weight of water.
18. A composition according to claim 15 wherein the flour is wheat, the sucrose is crystalline sugar, and the shortener includes a vegetable shortening.
19. A process for the manufacture of a baked foodstuff including the steps of : i. preparing a base by combining about 5 to 15% by weight of a shortener, about 15 to30 % by weight of sucrose, and about 15 to 25% by weight of a suitablesyrup; ii. mixing to the base between about 35 to 60% by weight of wheat flour, about 0.5 to 2.5% by weight of a baking powder and a sufficient amount of moisture or water until a dough is formed with a suitable moisture content; iii. moulding the dough to form a desired shape of baking product; and iv. baking the product at between 150 to 220 degrees Celsius for between about 15 to 30 minutes.
20. A process according to claim 19 wherein in step i. the shortener used is about 10% by weight, the sucrose content is about 23% by weight, the glucose syrup is about 18% by weight, and in step ii. the dough includes a content of about 46% by weight of the flour and is substantially 1% by weight of the leavening agent.
21. A process according to claim 20 wherein the baked product is a three dimensional shaped spoon.
22. A process according to claim 20 wherein the spoon is baked at 150 to 160 degrees Celsius for between 25 to 30 minutes.
23. An apparatus for preparing a three dimensional foodstuff substantially as herein described with reference to any one of the accompanying drawings.
24. A computer program associated with the controller means for carrying out the processing steps of manufacturing a foodstuff according to claim 13 substantially as herein described.
25. A dough composition for the manufacture of a baked product according to claim 15 substantially as herein described.
26. A process for the manufacture of a baked foodstuff according to claim 19 substantially as herein described.
Description:
METHODS AND APPARATUS FOR MANUFACTURING FOODSTUFFS TECHNICAL FIELD This invention relates to methods and apparatus for manufacturing foodstuffs. More particularly, but not exclusively, the present invention relates to the manufacture of a three- dimensional biscuit.

BACKGROUND ART Foodstuffs such as biscuits and related baked products are generally formed on flat open trays, conveyor belts or open trays. As such, when the product is baked or finished it has a flat back or unformed top. This form of baking generally results in irregular shaped biscuits. Although these biscuits have some shape, they are almost certainly not products with a regular defined three-dimensional shape.

Many biscuits are made using ingredients forming a soft chewy texture. To form such a soft biscuit the dough generally spreads when being made. This spreading is a problem when wanting to make a three dimensional shaped biscuit or foodstuff.

It is an object of the invention to provide methods of, and apparatus for, manufacturing a foodstuff that may overcome at least some of the abovementioned problems, or at least provides the public with a useful choice.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION According to a broad aspect of the invention there is provided an apparatus for preparing a three dimensional foodstuff, the apparatus including a first body portion provided with a first cavity in a bearing face of the first body portion, the first cavity having a base and a side wall, the side wall and the base being shaped, in use, to mould one portion of the foodstuff, and a second body portion, opposing the bearing face of the first body portion, the second bearing face of the second body portion having a second cavity, the second cavity having a base and a side wall, the side wall and the base being shaped, in use, to mould the other portion of the foodstuff, the first

body portion and the second body portion, in use, being adapted to be pressed together to align the first cavity and the second cavity and enable dough placed therebetween to mould and conform to the shape of the opposing first cavity and the second cavity.

Preferably the second body portion is a baking tray that can be configured and arranged to be movable to an oven after forming of the foodstuff. Desirably a plurality of first cavities and a plurality of corresponding second cavities in the apparatus. Preferably the first cavity is provided with a foodstuff cutting means.

Preferably the first body portion is a metal mould block and the second body portion is a metal mould block, and wherein a first heating element is provided in the first mould block and a second heating element is provided in the second mould block. Advantageously a temperature measuring means is associated with the first mould block and/or the second mould block.

Preferably the apparatus further includes a controller means for controlling the operation of making a foodstuff, a mould handling means associated with the first mould block and the second mould block for opening, closing and positioning the first block and the second mould, a mould cleaning means for removing, in use, surplus dough placed between the first block and the second block and pressed out of the mould when the first block and the second block is closed.

Desirably the apparatus further comprising a dough insertion means and/or a conveyor means.

Preferably the first block and the second block is made from aluminium or stainless steel.

Optionally the first block and the second block are coated with a non-stick substance.

Alternatively the apparatus is attached to a press, the plate and the body portion being attachable to a vertical support member and being adapted to be movable, in use, from a first open position, to a second closed position with the body portion meeting the tray, the tray being securable in place, the cavity of the body portion facing the other side of the product form on the tray.

Desirably the foodstuff is a three dimensional spoon.

According to a second aspect of the invention there is provided a computer program associated with the controller means for carrying out the processing steps of manufacturing a foodstuff using the apparatus of claim 8, the program comprising the steps of : A.) heating the first block and the second block to a predetermined maximum temperature, and when reached, opening the mould; B.) inserting dough into the cavity between opposing faces of the first block and the second block; C.) closing the mould ; D.) removing at least some of the excess dough from the outside faces of the mould; E.) partially baking the foodstuff at a predetermined temperature or between a predetermined minimum and maximum temperature for a predetermined period of time; and F.) opening the mould and ejecting the foodstuffs and closing the mould.

Preferably in step E.) the foodstuff is baked at between 160 to 180 degrees Celsius for between a predetermined time period of between 3 to 4 minutes.

According to a third broad aspect of the invention there is provided a dough composition for the manufacture of a baked product, the dough composition including: a.) about 5 to 15% by weight of a shortener; b.) about 15 to 30% by weight of sucrose, c.) about 15 to 25% by weight of a glucose syrup, d.) about 35 to 60% by weight of flour, e.) about 0.5 to 2.5% by weight of a leavening agent; and f.) a sufficient amount of moisture or water to form a suitable moisture content for the dough.

Desirably the shortener is about 10% by weight, the sucrose content is about 23% by weight, the glucose syrup is about 18% by weigh, and the dough includes a content of about 46% by weight of the flour. Preferably the dough content is about 1% by weight of the leavening agent, and wherein in step f. the moisture or water used is of a sufficient amount to form a low to medium moisture content in the dough, and wherein the dough composition includes about 2%

by weight of water. Advantageously the flour is wheat, the sucrose is crystalline sugar, and the shortener includes a vegetable shortening.

According to a fourth broad aspect of the invention there is provided a process for the manufacture of a baked foodstuff including the steps of : i.) preparing a base by combining about 5 to 15% by weight of a shortener, about 15 to30 % by weight of sucrose, and about 15 to 25% by weight of a suitable syrup; ii.) mixing to the base between about 35 to 60% by weight of wheat flour, about 0.5 to 2.5% by weight of a baking powder and a sufficient amount of moisture or water until a dough is formed with a suitable moisture content ; iii.) moulding the dough to form a desired shape of baking product; and iv.) baking the product at between 150 to 220 degrees Celsius for between about 15 to 30 minutes.

Preferably in step i.) the shortener used is about 10% by weight, the sucrose content is about 23% by weight, the glucose syrup is about 18% by weight, and in step ii. the dough includes a content of about 46% by weight of the flour and is substantially 1% by weight of the leavening agent.

Desirably the baked product is a three dimensional shaped spoon. Preferably the spoon is baked at 150 to 160 degrees Celsius for between 25 to 30 minutes.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS Preferred embodiment of aspects of the invention will now be illustrated, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which : Figure 1: Shows an exploded perspective view of the apparatus of an apparatus according to a first preferred embodiment of the invention ; Figure 2: Shows a perspective view of a tray used in the apparatus of figure 1;

Figure 3: Shows a side view of the press in association with the apparatus of figures 1 and 2; Figure 4: Shows a perspective view of a baked product in the form of a biscuit spoon; Figure 5: Shows a side view of a spoon manufactured by the apparatus of the second preferred embodiment of the invention; Figure 6: Shows a perspective view of the figure 5; Figure 7: Shows a cross sectional view of a mould; Figure 8: Shows a side view of a section of a baking tray; Figure 9: Shows a schematic diagram of main components for the apparatus of figure 5; and Figure 10: Shows a flow chart of a computer program for controlling the process for manufacturing a three dimensional foodstuff.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION A dough composition for use in the manufacture of a baked product according to a first aspect of the invention, is described with reference to examples. The dough composition suitable for manufacturing a three dimensional baked foodstuff must be composed of ingredients that assist to form the desired result, for example, in the form of a biscuit.

It will be appreciated that the aspects of the invention can be used to form a variety of foodstuffs and for reasons of simplicity of description the aspects of the invention will be described with reference to a three dimensional biscuit. The biscuit shape illustrated is that of a spoon and references to a spoon will be accepted as being references to a three-dimensional foodstuff product.

To form a well constituted three dimensional biscuit spoon the composition of the dough desirably includes a number of useful ingredients. These ingredients form dough that has some desirable characteristics when suitably baked.

The baked product will advantageously form a stable and solid structure. The biscuit spoon can be of a sufficient size that with reasonable handling, the biscuit spoon can be dunked in a hot

drink, or used for brief stirring of a cup of beverage such as coffee or tea and subsequently eaten, if desired.

A dough composition for the manufacture of a baked foodstuff can include about 5 to 15% by weight of a shortener, about 15 to 30% by weight of sucrose, about 15 to 25% by weight of a glucose syrup, about 35 to 60% by weight of flour, about 0.5 to 2.5% by weight of a leavening agent, and a sufficient amount of moisture or water to form a suitable moisture content for the dough.

The dough preferably includes about 23% by weight of sucrose. Desirably the sucrose is crystalline sugar such as, for example, white sugar. Crystalline sugar has some desirable characteristics that can assist with manufacturing a successful baked product by adding sweetness and flavour, providing structure, retaining moisture, contributing to the browning effect, preserving, and adds to the mixing or creaming step of the process. The dough may include about 18% by weight of syrup in the form of golden/glucose syrup. The glucose syrup can have some similar properties to the sucrose or crystalline sugar.

The dough preferably includes about 46% of flour. Desirably the composition includes wheat flour. Wheat flour provides proteins such as glutenin and gliadin that strengthens and contributes to the structure and stability of the dough and baked product. Desirably the wheat flour is a high-gluten or medium gluten type to provide a firm crumb.

Desirably the dough includes about 1% of a leavening agent. Preferably the leavening agent is baking powder. The baking powder may be composed of suitable components of sodium bicarbonate, calcium carbonate, wheat flour, and cream of tartar. Other suitable leavening agents that are slow acting may be used.

The dough also may include about 10% by weight of a shortener. Preferably the shortener includes a vegetable oil and may include a solid vegetable oil such as hydrogenated vegetable shortenings. The shortener is desirably used as it coats proteins and minimises the protein contact with moisturiser thus shortening the gluten's development. The dough desirably includes a sufficient moisture content to make a workable dough and may advantageously include about 2% by weight of water.

The dough may additionally include a flavouring to enhance the baked product's aroma and taste. The flavouring may desirably include about 0.0025% by weight of ginger. The flavouring may further include 0.002% by weight of mixed spice and about 0.001% by weight of cinnamon.

Other flavourings are suitable depending on the tastes and aroma required.

A dough composition may be formed in accordance with the following non-limiting example.

A dough composition comprising: about 10% by weight of a solid vegetable shortener; . about 23% by weight of white sugar, 'about 18% by weight of a glucose syrup, about 46% by weight of wheat flour, 'about 1% by weight of a baking powder; about 2% by weight of water; 'about 0.0025% by weight of ginger; and about 0.001% by weight of cinnamon.

A process for the manufacture of a baked product in the desirable form of a three dimensional biscuit spoon is now described.

The process includes the steps of preparing a base by combining about 5 to 15% by weight of a shortener, about 15 to30 % by weight of sucrose, and about 15 to 25% by weight of a suitable syrup; then mixing to the base between about 35 to 60% by weight of wheat flour, about 0.5 to 2.5% by weight of a baking powder and a sufficient amount of moisture or water until a dough is formed with a suitable moisture content; then moulding the dough to form a desired shape of baked product; and then baking the product at between 150 to 220 degrees Celsius for between about 15 to 30 minutes.

The process may include the steps of preparing a base by combining or creaming about 10% by weight of a shortener, about 23% by weight of sucrose, and about 18% by weight of a suitable syrup. It is important not to over mix as this will aerate the mix too much and may cause the dough to spread when being baked.

When suitably mixed, slowly mix into the base about 46% by weight of wheat flour, about 1% by weight of a baking powder and enough water to form an appropriate dough consistency, that may be up to about 2% by weight of water.

When the dough is formed, it can be kneaded, rolled and can be cooled in a refrigerator if required.

The formed dough can be moulded into a desired shape of baked product and then the dough shapes can be baked at between 150 to 220 degrees Celsius for between about 15 to 30 minutes.

More preferably the dough can be baked at about 150 to 160 degrees Celsius for between about 25 to 30 minutes.

Referring to figures 1 and 2, an exploded perspective view of the apparatus for moulding or preparing a three dimensional baking product, generally referred to as 1, and a second body portion in the form of a tray, generally referred to as 2, are illustrated.

In these figures the three dimensional shape of a spoon, as seen in part with the perspective view of a biscuit spoon 3, is mouldable from biscuit dough.

The apparatus 1 includes a first body portion in the form of a plaque or block 4. The block 4 being provided with cavities 5 in a bearing face or inner face 6. The cavities 5 each having a side wall 7 shaped in a desirable product form and in this mould is in the outer shape of a biscuit in the form of a spoon. It will be appreciated that the apparatus 1 may have any reasonable number of cavities and in this embodiment of the invention is designed to mould a batch of six spoons.

The apparatus 1 preferably includes a plate 8 that fits in a recess 9 located in an outer face 10 of the block 4 such that the outer face of the recess 9 is flush with the outer face 10 of the block 4. The plate 8 is made of any suitable and durable material such as stainless steel or aluminium, and is desirably releasably attachable to the block 4. In this embodiment the plate 8 is pressed against the block 2 by a plurality of pins 11 being fastened to the inner face 12 by screws 13 passing through apertures 14 in the plate 8. The pins 11 are located through apertures 15 in the block 4.

The base 16 of each cavity 5 is made to be deep enough to enable a spoon blank member 17 to be insertable in each cavity 5 and nest against the base 16. The spoon blank member 8 is desirably made of a suitable material such as a plastics material. A locating aperture 18 is provided in the handle part of the spoon blank member 17 to locate the pin 11 that passes through the block 4 into the cavity 5. This arrangement is seen to allows the plate 8, the block 4 and the spoon blank member 17 to be press fitted together for use, and be easily disassembled when maintenance or cleaning is required.

A foodstuff cutting means in the form of a cutting blade template 19 is made to the desired shape of spoon and is provided with a cutting edge 20 on the outer edge of the template 19. The template is made of any suitable material and is preferably formed of stainless steel. Each template 19 is press fitted into respective cavities 5. The width of the template 19 is such that, when fitted into a cavity 5, the cutting edge 20 protrudes out from the inner face 6 to cut through dough placed on the opposing tray 2 as shown more clearly in figure 3. The protrusion for this non-limiting embodiment is about 10 millimetres.

The end portion 21 of the pin 11 has a smaller diameter than the central portion of the pin 11.

The end portion 21 protrudes through the cavity 5 enough to be located and press fitted into apertures (not shown) in the outer side 22 of a spoon template 23. The outer edge of spoon template 23 is of a sufficient size to be press fitted within the cavity 5 within the area of the cutting blade template 19. The inside face 24 of the spoon template is shaped to form the underside of a biscuit spoon 3.

It is envisaged within the scope of the invention, and in an alternative embodiment, that the spoon blank member 17 and the spoon template 23 are integrated as one moulded template to form the underside of the baked spoon. Further, the cutting blade template 19 is envisaged as being attached to the cavities 5. Alternatively the cutting blade template 19 may be integrated with the spoon blank member 17 or the spoon template 23.

Referring now to figure 2, a second body portion in the form of a tray 2 is desirably adapted to form a shape representing the top surface of six spoons, and being spaced on the tray 2 so as to be alignable with the six corresponding cavities 5 of the block 4. The tray 2 having raised domes

25 to mould the back of each spoon bowl, and having cavities 26 into which dough, in use, is pressed.

Suitable markings can be made in the moulded dough spoons such as letters and logos, and it is envisaged that raised forms (not shown) can be provided at the distal end of the handle of each spoon cavity 26. The tray 2 is desirably made of a material that can allow even baking of the dough moulded spoons. In this embodiment stainless steel is preferred although any material that can be used as a tray in the baking process is suitable. Desirably the tray 9 is coated with a non-stick substance to allow spoons to be easily separated from the tray 6 after baking.

Referring now to figure 3, a side view of a press, generally referred to as 40, in association with the apparatus 1 and tray 2 of figures 1 and 2, is illustrated.

The apparatus 1 is desirably adapted to be fitted to a press 40. The press 40 includes a base 41 onto which the tray 2 is located. A vertically disposed stand member 42 is attached to the base 41 and supports the apparatus 1. The apparatus 1 is attached to a head block 43. A press lever 44 is pivotably associated with the block 43 and press 40 so as to be movable from a first open position as seen, to a second closed position. As the lever 44 is being moved, so will the block 4 to press into the tray 2 as required.

The tray 2 is removably securable in place on the base 41 by locating lugs (not shown) to ensure that the block 4 is pressed into correct alignment with the tray 2. It will be appreciated that any suitable method of properly aligning the tray 2 with the block 4 can be used.

Referring to figure 4, a three-dimensional baked spoon 2 manufactured using the method and apparatus of the invention, is illustrated.

It is envisaged that a baked spoon 2 will be desirable as it can be used to stir beverages and more desirably be consumed after it has functioned as a spoon. A process for making the three- dimensional baked spoon 2 involving various aspects of the invention is now described.

The dough prepared according to the first aspect is placed across the tray 2. It is preferable to prepare a sheet of dough that is of a sufficient thickness so that there is not a large amount of

excess dough being squeezed from the moulding process. A large excess of dough may cause a hindrance during the process. With the particular embodiment shown with a baked spoon that is about 10 millimetres in thickness, a dough thickness of between about 6 to 6.6 millimetres is considered adequate. The length of the spoon 2 is about the length of a standard teaspoon.

After the dough is placed on the tray, the tray 2 can be set in alignment with the block 4 so that respective cavities 5,26 can meet. The press 40 is activated by the lever 44 being moved so that the block 4 is moved from a first, open position above the tray 2 to a second, closed position against the tray 2. The lever 44 is then released and the surplus dough removed. The tray 2 with the moulded dough spoons is then baked at between about 150 to 220 degrees Celsius for between about 15 to 30 minutes. Then baked spoons 2 can then be separated from the tray 2.

Desirably the baked spoons 2 are dipped in further flavourings such as chocolate, after cooling or otherwise. The spoons 2 can have a long shelf life as a foodstuff, and may be as long as about six months, more or less, as required. Suitable airtight packaging about the foodstuff product is desirable to extend the shelf life of the product.

Referring now to figures 5 to 10, a foodstuff in the form of a spoon, generally referred to as 50, manufactured according to a second preferred embodiment of the invention, is illustrated.

The spoon 50 is a three dimensional foodstuff as shown more particularly in the two forms as shown in figures 5 and 6. The form is very similar to a common teaspoon, and is a fanciful replica of a common spoon used in cafes and restaurants. The spoon 50 includes an oval bowl 51 and a handle 52.

A mould 60, for partially baking spoons 50, is now illustrated. A first body portion in the form of a first mould block 61 and a second body portion in the form of a second mould block 62 are provided. The two mould blocks 61,62 are preferably split along the widest horizontal points along the spoon 50. The points are indicated as a split line 63. The first block and the second mould block 61,62 are made of any suitable and desirable material such as, for example, aluminium or stainless steel. Preferably it is made from stainless steel.

To partially bake the spoon foodstuff, holes 64 are provided in the blocks 61,62 and thermostatically controlled heating elements 65 are inserted and fitted therethrough at suitable positions relative to the spoon cavities 66,67 in respective blocks 61,62. Partially baking the biscuit spoon 50 is designed to desirably set the dough and form a solid enough foodstuff or biscuit product to allow extraction and full baking of the spoon 50 without distorting or destroying the shape of the product formed in the mould 60 during partial baking.

The blocks 61,62 meet at opposing faces 68,69. Preferably the cavities 66,67 and desirably the opposing faces 68,69 are coated with a non-stick substance such as, for example, TeflorP to aid in the removal of the spoons after partial baking. The use of a suitable non-stick coated substance may also reduce the amount of cleaning of the mould 60 and may reduce batch failures by reducing the amount of residue that may be left on the blocks 60,61 from dough after repeated use.

It will be appreciated that although the mould 60 only shows two opposing cavities 66,67, the mould 60 is desirably constructed with a plurality of cavities 66,67 such that a much larger number of baked products can be manufactured. It is envisaged that a plurality of moulds 60 can be set up in adjoining position in a suitable machine to carry out the manufacturing operation. Figure 7 therefore represents only one cavity in many in the mould 60.

Preferably mould temperature measuring or sensing means in the form of probes 70,71 are located in or adjacent the blocks 61,62 to sense the temperature of the blocks 61,62 and provide signals to the thermostatic controller means in the apparatus 80 as further described below.

The mould 60 can desirably include spoon ejection means in the form of air ram activated ejector pins (not shown) provided in one or both blocks 61,62 to eject the partially baked spoons 50.

In operation, the heating elements 65,66 are activated and the temperature of the mould 60 is regulated. A desirable predetermined temperature for the mould 60 is between about 160 to 180 degrees. The temperature is regulated by a temperature setting means preferably in the form of a thermostat. The dough, which is preferably prepared in accordance with the first aspect of the invention, is placed across the cavity 67 of the block 62. The blocks 61,62 are closed and the

dough is partially baked for between 3 to 4 minutes, or as required to set and form a spoon form of a reasonably solid consistency.

Once a batch of spoons 50 are partially baked and removed from the mould 60, they are then placed in an oven and baked for between 15 and 30 minutes, and more desirably about 20 minutes.

Referring now to figure 8, a side view of a partial tray 75 shaped to cradle partially baked spoons 50 during the full baking process, is illustrated.

Desirably the spoons 50 are placed in rows on the tray 75. The tray 75 in figure 7 shows a cross section through a section of the tray 75 to illustrate the desirably moulding of the top surface 76.

The top surface 76 is shaped to correspond or conform to the underside curve of the spoon 50.

This may assist with allowing the spoon 50 to retain its shape while being fully baked in an oven (not shown). The baking process can be similar to that already described by being baked for between 150 and 220 degrees Celsius for between about 15 to 30 minutes.

Referring now to figure 9, a schematic diagram of components of the apparatus for manufacturing a foodstuff, generally referred to as 80, is illustrated.

The apparatus 80 includes a control means 81 preferably in the form of a programmable logic controller ("PLC"). The PLC 81 is programmed by a suitable program as described below with reference to figure 10. The PLC 81 controls the operation of the moulds and the various components for manufacturing the partially baked spoon forms.

The apparatus 80 includes the mould 60 of figure 8. A mould handling means 82 for opening and closing the mould 60 is controlled by the PLC 81. A dough insertion means is associated with the apparatus 80 and operates to place dough between the blocks 61,62 before the mould 60 is closed.

A mould cleaning means 84 for removing any excess dough after the mould 60 is closed is provided. The cleaning means 84 is preferably an assembly with rubber scrapers configured and arranged to pass adjacent the outside of the blocks 61,62 of the mould 60 to scrape away dough r

oozing from the closed mould 60. The surplus or excess dough can desirably be recycled in the batch.

Optionally, a conveyor means 85 is provided. The conveyor means 85 is positioned below the mould 60 and is configured and arranged to convey spoons 50 ejected from the mould 60 after partial baking through to the next stage of the manufacturing process.

The PLC 81 also controls the temperature of the mould 60 by controlling the operation of the heating elements 65,66 and by using temperature measuring means in the form of temperature probes 70,71 as a feedback loop to ensure a predetermined set temperature for the mould blocks 61,62 is reached before the dough is placed in the mould 60.

Referring now to figure 10, a flow chart of a computer program for controlling the operation of the apparatus 80, is illustrated.

The program is started and step a. is commenced with the initial set up sequence. In step a. the heating elements 65,66 are powered to heat the blocks 61,62 to the required predetermined maximum temperature. The preset predetermined maximum temperature may be between 160 to 180 degrees Celsius. The temperature of the blocks 61,62 is sensed by the probes 70,71 and monitored by feedback signals to the PLC 81. When the temperature is reached the PLC 81 activates the mould handling means 82 and the mould blocks 61,62 open.

Then in step b. the PLC 81 activates the dough insertion means 83 and a suitable portion of dough is placed between the opposing faces 68,69 of respective blocks 61,62 and the operation moves to the next step. In step c. the mould 60 is closed by the mould handling means 82. In the next step d. the mould cleaning means 84 scrapes any excess dough from the sides of the blocks 61,62. The next step e. is then commenced. In step e. the mould is retained in a closed position for a predetermined period of time and at a predetermined temperature or within temperature range to partially bake the dough to form a substantially set foodstuff.

Preferably the maximum temperature is set at between 160 to 180 degrees Celsius for a time period of between 3 to 4 minutes. The PLC 81 ensures that the temperature of the mould 60 is regulated at the desired temperature by regularly sampling temperatures with the probes 70,71

and, when the temperature is reached, activating a switch to cut power to the heating elements 65,66. If the temperature is sensed to drop below a preset minimum allowable temperature, the PLC 81 will activate a switch and supply power to the heating elements to increase the temperature to the desired maximum temperature. It will be appreciated that the minimum to maximum temperatures may be any desired temperatures and can vary depending on the predetermined time period set. It will be appreciated that if a shorter time period is desired, a higher temperature can be set.

When the time period has elapsed, the next step f. operates. In step f. the mould handling means 82 is activated to eject the spoons 50 from the moulds 60 and onto the conveyor means 85 and the mould 60 closes. The PLC 81 can then activate the conveyor means 85 to convey the spoons 50 to a desired location downstream of the mould handling operation. The computer program then resets to step a. and the process is repeated. The program can be stopped by a suitable deactivation switch (not shown).

The partially baked spoons 50 are then desirably placed on the trays 75 and fully baked as required.

Wherein the aforegoing reference has been made to integers or components having known equivalents, then such equivalents are herein incorporated as if individually set forth.

Accordingly, it will be appreciated that changes may be made to the above described embodiments of the invention without departing from the principles taught herein.

Additional advantages of the present invention will become apparent for those skilled in the art after considering the principles in particular form as discussed and illustrated. Thus, it will be understood that the invention is not limited to the particular embodiments described or illustrated, but is intended to cover all alterations or modifications which are within the scope of the appended claims.