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Title:
APPARATUS FOR RISING DOUGH
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/024137
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An apparatus (1) for rising food doughs comprises: a dough-rising compartment (10) having an internal space (V) and configured to contain the food doughs; a thermal conditioning system (30), associated with the dough-rising compartment (10) and configured to adjust the ambient temperature of the internal space (V) of the dough-rising compartment (10); a temperature sensor (21), mounted in the internal space (V) of the dough-rising compartment (10) to generate a temperature signal (210); a control unit (40), connected to the temperature sensor (21) for receiving the temperature signal (210) and programmed for generating control signals (401), as a function of the temperature signal (210). The temperature sensor (21) comprises a pin (211) having a measuring end (211') which can be inserted in one of the food doughs contained in the dough-rising compartment (10) for measuring an internal temperature.

Inventors:
CANTELLI IVANO (IT)
CANTELLI LUCA (IT)
TUSARELLI GIANLUCA (IT)
Application Number:
IB2020/057278
Publication Date:
February 11, 2021
Filing Date:
July 31, 2020
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
EMMECIBREAD S R L (IT)
International Classes:
A21C13/00; A21B1/02
Foreign References:
EP1878347A22008-01-16
EP0117521A11984-09-05
US3931620A1976-01-06
US5786568A1998-07-28
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CONTI, Marco (IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. An apparatus (1 ) for rising food doughs, comprising:

- a dough-rising compartment (10) having an internal space (V) and configured to contain the food doughs;

- a thermal conditioning system (30), associated with the dough-rising compartment (10) and configured to adjust the ambient temperature of the internal space (V) of the dough-rising compartment (10) between a first temperature value, below zero degrees Celsius, and a second temperature value, above ten degrees Celsius;

- a temperature sensor (21), mounted in the internal space (V) of the dough rising compartment (10) to generate a temperature signal (210);

- a control unit (40), connected to the temperature sensor (21) to receive the temperature signal (210) and programmed to generate drive signals (401) to control the thermal conditioning system (30) as a function of the temperature signal (210), characterized in that the temperature sensor (21) comprises a pin (211) having a measuring tip (211') which is insertable into one of the food doughs contained in the dough-rising compartment (10) to measure a core temperature thereof, the temperature signal (210) representing the core temperature.

2. The apparatus (1) according to claim 1, wherein the temperature sensor (21) is configured to measure the temperature signal (210) representing the core temperature of one of the food doughs in real time.

3. The apparatus (1) according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the control unit (40) has access to reference data, including optimum values of food dough core temperature, each associated with a respective rising stage of a rising cycle, and wherein the control unit (40) is configured to generate the drive signals (401), at each rising stage, in response to a comparison between the food dough core temperature, measured by the temperature sensor (21) at the corresponding rising stage, and the optimum value of the food dough core temperature associated with the corresponding rising stage.

4. The apparatus (1) according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising a moisture sensor (23) mounted in the internal space (V) of the dough-rising compartment (10) to measure a control moisture and configured to generate a corresponding moisture signal (230), representing the control moisture, and wherein the thermal conditioning system (30) includes a humidifier (33), configured to modify the degree of moisture of the internal space (V) of the dough-rising compartment (10), and wherein the control unit (40) is configured to generate the drive signals (401) in response to the moisture signal (230).

5. The apparatus (1) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the thermal conditioning system (30) includes a heater (32), configured to raise the ambient temperature, and a cooler (31), configured to lower the ambient temperature.

6. The apparatus (1) according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising a user interface (50), connected to the control unit (40) and configured to receive configuration data (501) from a user, wherein the control unit (40) is configured to generate the drive signals (401) in response to the configuration data (501).

7. The apparatus (1) according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising a fan (34) configured to force air to circulate along a dough-rising path to surround the doughs disposed in the dough-rising compartment (10).

8. The apparatus (1) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the temperature sensor (21) comprises an additional pin (211 A) for measuring the core temperature of a further food dough located inside the dough-rising compartment (10), the temperature signal (210) representing also the core temperature of the further food dough.

9. The apparatus (1) according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising an additional temperature sensor (22), configured to measure the ambient temperature of the internal space (V) of the dough-rising compartment (10) and to generate an additional temperature signal (220) representing the ambient temperature, and wherein the control unit (40) is programmed to process the additional temperature signal (220) to generate the drive signals (401).

10. The apparatus (1) according to claim 9, wherein the control unit (40) has access to a first ambient temperature threshold and to second ambient temperature threshold and wherein the control unit (40) is programmed to generate the drive signals (401) as a function of the additional temperature signal (220) in such a way as to keep the ambient temperature within a range between the first ambient temperature threshold and the second ambient temperature threshold.

11. The apparatus (1) according to claim 9 or 10, wherein the control unit (40) is programmed to operate between a first operating configuration, in which it is enabled to process only the temperature signal (210) to generate the drive signals (401), and a second operating configuration, in which it is enabled to process only the additional temperature signal (220) to generate the drive signals (401).

12. The apparatus (1) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the control unit (40) is configured to detect a failure to insert the pin (211) and to notify a user of the failure to insert.

13. A method for rising food doughs, comprising the following steps:

- placing the food doughs in an internal space (V) of a dough-rising compartment

(10);

- adjusting the ambient temperature of the internal space (V) of the dough-rising compartment (10) between a first temperature value, below zero degrees Celsius, and a second temperature value, above ten degrees Celsius, by means of a thermal conditional system (30);

- generating a temperature signal (210) by means of a temperature sensor (21 );

- generating drive signals (401) by means of a control unit (40) to control the thermal conditioning system (30) as a function of the temperature signal (210), characterized in that the step of generating the temperature signal (210) comprises a step of measuring, in which a pin (211) of the temperature sensor (21) having a measuring tip (211') is inserted into one of the food doughs contained in the dough-rising compartment (10) to measure a core temperature thereof, and wherein the temperature signal (210) represents the core temperature.

14. The method according to claim 13, wherein the step of generating the drive signals (401) comprises a step of comparing the temperature signal (210), representing the core temperature of the food doughs, with a reference value, representing an optimum core temperature for the food doughs.

15. The method according to claim 13 or 14, comprising the following steps:

- setting a first ambient temperature threshold and a second ambient temperature threshold;

- generating an additional temperature signal (220), representing the ambient temperature, by means of an additional temperature sensor (22), and wherein the step of generating the drive signals (401) comprises a step of processing the first ambient temperature threshold, the second ambient temperature threshold and the additional temperature signal (220) in order to keep the ambient temperature within a range between the first ambient temperature threshold and the second ambient temperature threshold.

Description:
DESCRIPTION

APPARATUS FOR RISING DOUGH

Technical field

This invention relates to an apparatus for rising food dough and a method for rising food dough.

Background art

The technical sector to which the invention belongs includes industrial bread making plants, that is to say, apparatuses configured for making bread from the processing of flour.

The fermentation cycle (or retarding) plays a fundamental role in the production of bread, by means of which the leavened dough increases its volume before the subsequent baking.

The fermentation process is influenced by numerous physical parameters, which must remain on specific values so that the fermentation of the dough is optimum.

For this reason, in this technical field, there is a clear need to precisely control the environment inside which the food dough is kept during the fermentation cycle.

For example, it is very important to accurately check the temperature of the environment in which the food dough is contained. In effect, the temperature of the food dough during the processing cycle greatly influences the result of the fermentation.

Some solutions of fermentation apparatuses comprise a dough-rising compartment inside of which are inserted the food dough and a thermal conditioning system, configured for conditioning the ambient temperature of the dough-rising compartment. Inside the dough-rising compartment there is a temperature sensor, which measures in real time the ambient temperature. Depending on the ambient temperature, a controller adjusts the thermal conditioning system in such a way as to increase or reduce the ambient temperature.

However, these solutions adjust the thermal conditioning system as a function of a comparison between the ambient temperature and an optimum temperature which the food doughs should have. For this reason, the control of the temperature of the dough is not precise and the fermentation could be poor. There are prior art solutions, such as, for example, those described in patent document EP1878347A2, which show an apparatus for retarding fermentation comprising a dough-rising compartment, in which the products are contained, and a thermal treatment system. The document describes a working temperature range for the fermentation retarding process which extends from a value less than 0° to a value greater than 10°. The document describes the presence of a temperature sensor and a controller which would be configured to adjust the thermal treatment system as a function of input data, which can also be sent from the temperature sensor. Patent document EP1878347A2 describes a probe sensor, designed to measure the temperature of the products, which is positioned outside the dough-rising compartment and which is positioned beneath the product. For this reason, this solution is not very effective in the accurate control of the fermentation retarding process of the food doughs.

Other solutions are described in patent documents EP0117521A1 and US3931620A.

Aim of the invention

The aim of the invention is to provide an apparatus and a method for rising food dough which overcome the above-mentioned drawbacks of the prior art.

Said aim is fully achieved by the apparatus and by the method for rising food dough according to the invention, as characterised in the appended claims. According to one aspect of this invention, the invention provides an apparatus for rising food dough.

The apparatus comprises a dough-rising compartment having an internal space. The dough-rising compartment is configured to contain the food dough. The apparatus comprises a thermal conditioning system. The thermal conditioning system is associated with the dough-rising compartment (that is, it interfaces with it to condition the temperature of the air contained in the internal space). The thermal conditioning system is configured for regulating (that is, also only modifying or limiting) an ambient temperature of the space inside the dough-rising compartment. According to an embodiment, the thermal conditioning system is configured for adjusting the ambient temperature between a first temperature value, less than zero degrees Celsius, and a second temperature value, greater than ten (that is, zero, that is, five) degrees Celsius.

In one embodiment, the apparatus comprises a temperature sensor. The temperature sensor is mounted in the internal space of the dough-rising compartment to generate a temperature signal.

The apparatus comprises a control unit. The control unit is connected to the temperature sensor to receive the temperature signal. The control unit is programmed to generate drive signals. The control unit is programmed for generating the control signals, as a function of the temperature signal, for controlling the thermal conditioning system.

According to an embodiment, the temperature sensor comprises a pin (that is, a needle). The pin has a measurement end, which can be inserted in one of the food doughs contained in the dough-rising compartment to measure an internal temperature. The term “internal temperature” means the temperature of the heart of the food dough, not facing the internal space. According to an embodiment, the temperature signal represents said internal temperature of the food dough.

It should be noted that the pin is configured to be inserted inside the food dough, in particular in a zone inside the surface. In other words, the temperature probe is operatively inserted inside the food dough. Thanks to this aspect, it is possible to define the difference in the thermal variations between the surface and the heart of the dough. Positioning on the surface, for example below the dough, would not provide the same advantages because it would not give a temperature value indicating the heart of the dough.

Moreover, the pin is positioned inside (in an internal space) of the dough-rising compartment.

In that way, thanks to the presence of the pin, the control unit receives a temperature signal representing the temperature of the heart of the dough, which is actually the variable which could influence a successful fermentation. For this reason, the adjustment of the ambient temperature can be based on a more significant feedback signal, increasing the quality of the fermentation. According to an embodiment, the temperature sensor is configured for measuring the temperature signal in real time. In this way, the conditioning system can adapt continuously to avoid deviations from optimum values which are too large.

According to an embodiment, the control unit has access to reference data. The control unit has a memory in which the reference data is stored. According to an embodiment, the reference data include optimum internal temperature values of the food dough. Each of said optimum values is associated with a respective instant of rising of a fermentation cycle. According to an embodiment, the reference data could be optimum values of other physical parameters of the food dough such as, for example, moisture content.

This aspect is very important because it allows the measured temperature value to be compared with optimum values, which may vary for different doughs and may change with the experience. Compared with the prior art, the reference data are not mere maximum or minimum temperature values which cannot be exceeded, but represent a trend over time of the temperature (surface, dough-rising compartment and heart of the food dough). This reference data allows the control unit, by means of a feedback control, to keep the temperature value on the optimum value for the entire fermentation retarding cycle (apart from a predetermined tolerance), guaranteeing the quality of the end product.

According to an embodiment, the control unit is configured for generating the control signals in response to a comparison between the internal temperature of the food doughs, measured by the temperature sensor at an instant of fermentation, and a corresponding optimum internal temperature value of the food doughs associated with the same instant of fermentation. According to an embodiment, the control unit is configured to perform this comparison for each of the fermenting instants of the rising cycle.

According to an embodiment, the apparatus comprises a humidity sensor, positioned in the internal space of the dough-rising compartment for detecting a control humidity. The control humidity is a humidity value used by the humidity sensor to generate a corresponding humidity signal, representing the control humidity. According to an embodiment, the thermal conditioning system includes a humidifier, configured for modifying a level of humidity of the internal space of the dough-rising compartment. According to an embodiment, the control unit is configured for generating the control signals in response to the humidity signal.

This also allows the influence of humidity on the fermentation to be taken into consideration.

According to an embodiment, the thermal conditioning system includes a heater, configured for increasing the ambient temperature. According to an embodiment, the chiller comprises a thermal conditioning circuit including:

- a heat carrier fluid, configured to exchange heat with air contained in the internal space V of the dough-rising compartment;

- a compressor configured to compress the heat carrier fluid;

- a condenser, configured for condensing the heat carrier fluid;

- a valve, configured for expanding the heat carrier fluid;

- an evaporator, configured to allow an exchange of heat between air contained in the internal space of the dough-rising compartment and the heat carrier fluid.

According to an embodiment, the thermal conditioning system includes a cooling unit, configured for reducing the ambient temperature.

According to an embodiment, the heater comprises an electrical resistance.

The presence of a cooling unit makes it possible to perform a “retarding” step in the fermentation retarding cycle. This step, performed upstream of the fermentation, is very important for the successful fermentation step.

According to an embodiment, the apparatus comprises a user interface. The user interface is connected to the control unit. The user interface is configured for receiving configuration data from a user. The control unit is configured for generating the control signals in response to the configuration data.

By using the user interface, the user can adapt the operation of the apparatus to various types of food dough, variable in terms of composition, dimensions and optimum physical parameters.

According to an embodiment, the apparatus comprises a fan, configured for forcing a circulation of air along a fermentation path, for striking the food dough positioned in the dough-rising compartment. By means of the fan, the ambient temperature may be made uniform, increasing the efficiency of heat exchange with the food doughs.

According to an embodiment, the temperature sensor comprises an additional pin, for measuring the internal temperature of a further food dough contained in the dough-rising compartment. According to this embodiment, the temperature signal also represents the internal temperature of the further food dough. According to an embodiment, the temperature sensor may comprise a plurality of pins, each insertable in a respective food dough to measure the corresponding internal temperature. In that case, the temperature signal represents each internal temperature measured by the plurality of pins. The presence of a plurality of pins allows the system to further increase the precision in adjusting the temperature. In effect, with the increase in the number of pins, the temperature signal will be increasingly representative of the actual temperature of the food doughs. In that way, if the temperature measured by a pin is very different from that measured by another pin, the thermal conditioning system could be adjusted as a function of an average between the two values measured, obtaining an acceptable fermentation for both the food doughs.

Moreover, the presence of several pins, as well as increasing the precision, also allows zones of the dough-rising compartment to be determined which are hotter or colder and therefore a non-uniformity of thermal conditioning of the compartment. In this perspective, for example, the thermal conditioning system may include thermal conditioning machines located in various zones of the dough-rising compartment. With the presence of several pins (in general, several temperature sensors located in different zones of the dough-rising compartment) it is possible to identify a non-uniformity in the thermal conditioning which can be resolved by selectively activating the conditioning machines, on the basis of their distribution in the dough-rising compartment. In other words, the control unit is programmed for varying the heat exchange of a thermal conditioning machine on the basis of the temperature signals received from the plurality of pins and on the basis of the position of the thermal conditioning machine in the dough-rising compartment.

According to an embodiment, the apparatus comprises an additional temperature sensor. The additional temperature sensor is configured for measuring the ambient temperature of the internal space of the dough-rising compartment. The additional temperature sensor is configured to generate an additional temperature signal, representing the ambient temperature. The control unit is programmed for processing the additional temperature signal for generating the control signals.

According to an embodiment, the control unit has access to a first ambient temperature threshold (that is, a minimum ambient temperature threshold). According to an embodiment, the control unit has access to a second ambient temperature threshold (that is, a maximum ambient temperature threshold). According to an embodiment, the control unit is programmed to generate the control signals as a function of the additional temperature signal, in such a way as to keep the ambient temperature in a range between the first ambient temperature threshold and the second ambient temperature threshold. In more detail, the control unit is programmed for acquiring the internal temperature of the doughs by means of the temperature sensor and for adjusting the thermal conditioning unit in such a way as to obtain the optimum fermentation temperature. However, during the adjustment designed to follow the optimum value of the internal temperature, the thermal conditioning system could have transients which are too severe that would lead to an overheating, or an excessive cooling of the internal space of the dough-rising compartment. For this reason, in order to overcome these risks, the control unit compares in real time the additional temperature signal (representing the ambient temperature) with the first and the second temperature thresholds. Lastly, if the ambient temperature is outside the range between the first and the second temperature thresholds, the control unit adjusts the thermal conditioning system by reducing the power (cooling or heating). According to an embodiment, the control unit is programmed to operate between a first operating configuration, wherein it is enabled to process only the temperature signal for generating the control signals, and a second operating configuration, wherein it is enabled to process only the additional temperature signal for generating the control signals. The control unit is configured to operate in the first operating configuration or in the second operating configuration as a function of the configuration data.

It should be noted that the control unit is always designed to generate the control signals as a function of the temperature signal and the additional temperature signal, but it may operatively enable and/or disable some of the functions which it is designed to perform.

According to an embodiment, the control unit is configured for detecting a failure to insert the pin. According to an embodiment, the control unit is configured for notifying a user of the failure to insert the pin.

According to an embodiment, the apparatus could comprise a surface temperature sensor, configured for measuring a surface temperature of a food dough.

According to an embodiment, the control unit is configured for adjusting the thermal conditioning system as a function of the surface temperature measured by the surface temperature sensor.

In that way, by maintaining a constant control on the surface temperature it is possible to assess which effects on the surface of the dough the regulation of the thermal conditioning system can have, which is based on the internal temperature of the doughs.

According to an embodiment, the control unit is configured for calibrating the additional temperature sensor, in response to the temperature signal.

In other words, according to an embodiment, the control unit is configured for adjusting the ambient temperature as a function of the internal temperature measured on a food dough, in such a way as to make the temperature values measured with the additional temperature sensor representative of the internal temperature of the doughs. More in detail, the control unit is configured for varying the temperature in the space inside the dough-rising compartment. The control unit is configured for detecting the temperature signal and the additional temperature signal during the temperature variation. The control unit is configured for processing the temperature signal and the additional temperature signal, for determining a correlation (thermodynamic) between the two signals. The control unit is configured for saving the correlation.

According to an embodiment, the control unit is configured for deriving, during the fermentation cycle, a derived temperature signal, as a function of the additional temperature signal and the correlation. The derived temperature signal represents the internal temperature of the food dough. The control unit is configured for generating the control signals as a function of the temperature signal derived.

According to an aspect of the invention, a method is provided for rising food dough.

The method comprises a step of inserting the food dough into an internal space of a dough-rising compartment. The method comprises a step of adjusting an ambient temperature of the internal space of the dough-rising compartment. According to an embodiment, in the adjusting step the ambient temperature is adjusted between a first temperature value, less than zero degrees Celsius, and a second temperature value, greater than ten degrees Celsius, by means of a thermal conditioning system.

According to an embodiment, the method comprises a step of generating a temperature signal, by means of a temperature sensor. According to an embodiment, the generating step is performed in real time.

The method comprises a step of generating control signals for controlling the thermal conditioning system using a control unit. According to an embodiment, the control signals are generated as a function of the temperature signal. According to an embodiment, the step of generating the temperature signal comprises a measuring step. In the measuring step, a pin of the temperature sensor having a measuring end is inserted in one of the food doughs contained in the dough-rising compartment to measure an internal temperature. According to an embodiment, the temperature signal represents said internal temperature. According to an embodiment, the step of generating the control signals comprises a step of comparing the temperature signal, representing the internal temperature of the food dough, with a reference value, representing an optimum internal temperature of the food dough. The reference value is associated with a specific instant of rising of the fermentation cycle.

According to an embodiment, the method comprises a step of adjusting the humidity level of the internal space of the dough-rising compartment.

In the step of adjusting the humidity level, a humidifier modifies the humidity level of the internal space of the dough-rising compartment. According to an embodiment, the method comprises a step of measuring a control humidity using a humidity sensor. The step of adjusting the humidity level comprises a step of sending the control humidity to the control unit. During the step of adjusting the moisture content, the control unit generates the control signals as a function of the control humidity and sends them to the humidifier.

According to an embodiment, the step of adjusting the ambient temperature of the internal space of the dough-rising compartment comprises a heating step, wherein the ambient temperature is increased, and/or a cooling step, wherein the ambient temperature is reduced.

According to an embodiment, the method comprises a step of setting up configuration data using a user interface. In the setting step, a user sets configuration data using the user interface. The configuration data is sent to the control unit. The control signals are generated in response to the configuration data.

According to an embodiment, the method comprises a recirculation step, for circulating air in the internal space of the dough-rising compartment.

In the recirculation step, a fan circulates air along a fermentation path, for striking the food doughs positioned in the dough-rising compartment.

According to an embodiment, the method comprises an additional measuring step, for determining an internal temperature of a further food dough contained in the dough-rising compartment. The temperature signal represents the internal temperature of the further food dough.

According to an embodiment, the method may comprise a plurality of measuring steps, in each of which each pin of a plurality of pins measures a corresponding internal temperature of a food dough in which it is inserted. According to an embodiment, the method comprises a step for processing each of the internal temperatures measured by the plurality of pins. During the processing step, the internal temperatures are mediated to determine a control temperature. According to an embodiment, the processing step is performed by the control unit, which receives the temperature signal representing all the internal temperatures and processes it for deriving the control temperature. According to an embodiment, the temperature sensor processes the signals of each pin and generates the temperature signal, which is already representative of the control temperature.

The method comprises a step of generating an additional temperature signal, by means of an additional temperature sensor. The additional temperature signal represents the ambient temperature of the internal space of the dough rising compartment. According to an embodiment, the control unit processes the additional temperature signal to generate the control signals.

According to an embodiment, the method comprises a step for setting a first ambient temperature threshold. According to an embodiment, the method comprises a step of a second ambient temperature threshold.

According to an embodiment, the step of generating the control signals comprises a step of processing the first ambient temperature threshold. According to an embodiment, the step of generating the control signals comprises a step of processing the second ambient temperature threshold. According to an embodiment, the step of generating the control signals comprises a step of processing the additional temperature signal to keep the ambient temperature in a range between the first ambient temperature threshold and the second ambient temperature threshold.

According to an embodiment, the method comprises a calibration step, wherein the temperature sensor and/or the additional temperature sensor are calibrated by comparing them with a value measured by a reference sensor.

According to an embodiment, the method comprises a correlation step. In the correlation step, the control unit compares the temperature signal and the additional temperature signal and determines a correlation (a correction coefficient) between the two signals.

According to an embodiment, the method comprises a real time correlation step. In the real time correction step, the control unit corrects the additional temperature signal, which represents the ambient temperature, as a function of the correlation (the correction coefficient), to make the additional temperature signal representative of the internal temperature of the food doughs.

According to an embodiment, the step of entering configuration data comprises setting up a selection parameter, variable between a first value and a second value.

According to an embodiment, the method comprises a switching step, wherein the control unit switches between a first operating configuration, wherein it processes only the temperature signal for generating the control signals, and a second operating configuration, wherein it processes only the additional temperature signal for generating the control signals. According to an embodiment, the control unit switches between the first and the second operating configuration as a function of the configuration data, more specifically as a function of the value of the selection parameter.

Brief description of the drawings

These and other features of the invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description of a preferred, non-limiting embodiment of it, illustrated byway of example in the accompanying drawings, in which:

- Figure 1 schematically illustrates an apparatus for rising food dough;

- Figure 2 schematically illustrates a detail of the apparatus of Figure 1 ;

- Figure 3 illustrates a detail of a temperature sensor of the apparatus of Figure 1 ;

- Figure 4 illustrates a graph representing a fermentation cycle (fermentation retarding) performed by the apparatus of Figure 1.

Detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention With reference to the accompanying drawings, the numeral 1 denotes an apparatus for fermentation (fermentation retarding) of food doughs. The apparatus 1 comprises a dough-rising compartment 10, having an internal space V. The dough-rising compartment 10 is configured to contain the food dough.

The dough-rising compartment comprises four side walls 11. The dough-rising compartment comprises an upper wall 12. The dough-rising compartment comprises a lower wall 13. A side wall of the four side walls 11 can be opened to insert the food dough.

According to an embodiment, the dough-rising compartment 10 comprises at least one supporting shelf 14. Preferably, the dough-rising compartment 10 comprises a plurality of supporting shelves 14.

The plurality of supporting shelves is connected to the side walls 11 of the dough-rising compartment 10 and is configured to keep the food dough during the fermentation.

According to an embodiment, the apparatus 1 comprises a measuring unit 20. The measuring unit 20 is configured for measuring physical parameters of the internal space V of the dough-rising compartment 10 and/or physical parameters of the food dough.

According to an embodiment, the measuring unit 20 comprises a temperature sensor 21. The temperature sensor 21 comprises a pin 211. The pin 211 comprises a measuring end 21 T, which can be inserted in a food dough. The pin 211 is configured for measuring a temperature inside the food dough.

The temperature sensor 21 is configured to generate a temperature signal 210 as a function of the internal temperature measured by the measuring end 21 T of the in 211.

According to an embodiment, the temperature sensor 21 (or the pin 211) comprises a measuring element 212, configured to come into contact with the outer surface of the food dough. The measuring element 212 is configured for measuring a surface temperature of the food dough and generating a corresponding surface temperature signal.

The temperature sensor 21 comprises a transmission cable 213 configured for transmitting the temperature signal 210 measured by the pin 211.

The temperature sensor 21 comprises a further transmission cable 213’ configured for transmitting the surface temperature signal measured by the measuring element 212.

According to an embodiment, the temperature sensor 21 comprises a plurality of pins 211 , each configured to measure a corresponding internal temperature of a food dough in which it is inserted. According to an embodiment, the temperature sensor 21 comprises a plurality of measuring elements 212, each configured to measure a corresponding surface temperature of a food dough with which it is in contact.

According to an embodiment, the measuring unit 20 comprises an additional temperature sensor 22. The additional temperature sensor 22, for example a thermocouple, is configured for measuring an ambient temperature of the internal space V of the dough-rising compartment 10.

The additional temperature sensor 22 is configured to generate an additional temperature signal 220 as a function of the ambient temperature measured by the thermocouple. The additional temperature sensor, according to an embodiment, is connected to one of the side walls 11 of the dough-rising compartment 10, preferably close to at least one food dough.

According to an embodiment, the measuring unit 20 comprises a humidity sensor 23. The humidity sensor 23 is configured to measure a humidity level of the internal space V of the dough-rising compartment 10 and to generate a humidity signal 230, representing said humidity level.

According to an embodiment, the apparatus 1 comprises a thermal conditioning system 30. The thermal (that is, thermodynamic) conditioning system is configured for adjusting the temperature (or other thermodynamic parameters) of the internal space V of the dough-rising compartment 10.

According to an embodiment, the thermal conditioning system 30 comprises a chiller 31 , including a cooling circuit 3T.

According to an embodiment, the cooling circuit comprises:

- a heat carrier fluid, configured to exchange heat with air contained in the internal space V of the dough-rising compartment 10;

- a compressor 311 , configured to compress the heat carrier fluid;

- a condenser 312, configured for condensing the heat carrier fluid; - a valve 313, configured for expanding the heat carrier fluid;

- an evaporator 314, configured to allow an exchange of heat between air contained in the internal space of the dough-rising compartment and the heat carrier fluid.

According to an embodiment, the thermal conditioning system comprises a heater 32. According to an embodiment, the heater 32 is an electrical resistance 32’.

According to an embodiment, the thermal conditioning system 30 (the apparatus 1) comprises a humidifier 33, configured for varying a degree of humidity of the internal space V.

The apparatus 1 comprises a fan 34, configured to force a circulation of air in the internal space V of the dough-rising compartment 10 in such a way that the latter strikes the food dough. According to an embodiment, the thermal conditioning system 30 interfaces with the internal space V of the dough-rising compartment 10 in an access 35.

In an embodiment, the apparatus 1 comprises a control unit 40.

The control unit 40 is connected to one or more of the following elements:

- temperature sensor 21 ;

- additional temperature sensor 22;

- moisture sensor 23;

- thermal conditioning system 30;

- humidifier 33;

- fan 34.

In one embodiment, the apparatus 1 comprises a user interface 50. The user interface 50 comprises a display 51 , configured to receive configuration data 501 from a user.

According to an embodiment, the control unit is configured for generating control signals 401 , for controlling the thermal conditioning system and/or the humidifier and/or the fan.

According to an embodiment, the control unit 40 is configured to receive the temperature signal 210 from the temperature sensor 21.

According to an embodiment, the control unit 40 is configured to receive the additional temperature signal 220 from the additional temperature sensor 22. According to an embodiment, the control unit 40 is configured to receive the humidity signal 230 from the humidity sensor 23.

According to an embodiment, the control unit 40 is configured for generating the control signals 401 as a function of (in response to) the temperature signal 210. According to an embodiment, the control unit 40 is configured for generating the control signals 401 as a function of (in response to) the additional temperature signal 220. According to an embodiment, the control unit 40 is configured for generating the control signals 401 as a function of (in response to) the humidity signal 230.

According to an embodiment, the control unit is programmed for switching from a first operating configuration, in which it is enabled to generate the control signals 401 only as a function of (in response to) the temperature signal 210, and a second operating configuration, in which it is enabled to generate the control signals 401 only as a function of (in response to) the additional temperature signal 220.

According to an embodiment, the control unit 40 is connected to the user interface 50 for receiving the configuration data 501. The control unit 40 is configured for generating the control signals 401 as a function of the configuration data 501.

According to an embodiment, the configuration data may be:

- a selection parameter, representing an operating configuration between the first and the second operating configuration of the control unit;

- a first temperature threshold, representing a maximum ambient temperature value which can be reached in the internal space V of the dough-rising compartment 10;

- a second temperature threshold, representing a minimum ambient temperature value which can be reached in the internal space V of the dough-rising compartment 10.

According to an embodiment, the control unit 40 is configured for switching between the first and the second operating configuration as a function of the selection parameter. According to an aspect of the invention, the control unit comprises a first block (cold temperature block) and a second block (hot temperature block). The cold temperature block is programmed to prevent the ambient temperature from falling below the second temperature threshold. In other words, the cold temperature block is configured for generating control signals 401 for reducing the cooling power of the thermal conditioning system 30 at ambient temperature values measured with the additional temperature sensor 22 less than the second temperature threshold. The hot temperature block is programmed to prevent the ambient temperature from rising above the first temperature threshold. In other words, the hot temperature block is configured for generating control signals 401 for reducing the heating power of the thermal conditioning system 30 at ambient temperature values measured with the additional temperature sensor 22 greater than the first temperature threshold. According to an embodiment, the control unit 40 is configured for processing the temperature signal 210 and the additional temperature signal 220, for determining a correlation between the two signals. According to an embodiment, the control unit 40 is programmed to derive a correction coefficient, as a function of the correlation between the two signals, which allows the control unit to derive the temperature signal 210 starting from the additional temperature signal 220. In short, for a certain quality of food dough, the control unit 40 stores a respective correction coefficient, which is used in the future fermentation processes to derive the internal temperature from the ambient temperature, avoiding the need to use the temperature sensor 21. According to an embodiment, the control unit 40 is programmed to detect a lack of insertion of the measuring end 21 T of the pin 211 in the food dough. The control unit 40 is programmed to notify the user, for example by means of an audio or visual alarm, of the lack of insertion of the pin 211.

According to an aspect of the invention, a method is provided for the fermentation (fermentation retarding) of food dough.

The method for the fermentation (fermentation retarding) makes it possible to perform a fermentation or fermentation retarding cycle of the food dough.

More specifically, the fermentation retarding cycle includes the following steps: - temperature reduction A, in which the food dough is cooled to a reduction temperature, less than -5 °C;

- maintaining B (automatic maintaining at zero degrees), in which the food dough is kept at the reduction temperature;

- reactivating C, in which the temperature of the food dough increases to a value greater than -5°C;

- pre-rising D, in which the temperature of the food dough increases to a value greater than zero °C;

- rising E, in which the food dough ends the fermentation, increasing the temperature progressively.

For this reason, it is very important to adjust the temperature of the room in which the food dough is contained, in order to respect the optimum fermentation process just described.

The method comprises a step of inserting food doughs in a dough-rising compartment 10, having an internal space V. The method comprises a step of containing the food dough in the dough-rising compartment 10, on a supporting shelf 14 or on a plurality of supporting shelves 14.

The method comprises a measuring step (detection), wherein a measuring unit 20 measures physical parameters of the internal space V of the dough-rising compartment 10 and/or physical parameters of the food doughs.

According to an embodiment, the measuring step comprises a step of measuring an internal temperature of the food dough, using a temperature sensor 21 , having a measuring end 21 T, insertable in a food dough.

According to an embodiment, the method comprises a step of generating a temperature signal 210, representing the internal temperature measured by the measuring end 21 T of the pin 211.

According to an embodiment, the measuring step comprises a step of measuring a surface temperature, using a measuring element 212 (which may be connected to the pin 211 or be part of the temperature sensor), configured to come into contact with the outer surface of the food dough.

The measuring element 212 measures a surface temperature of the food dough and generates a corresponding surface temperature signal. The measuring step comprises a transmission step, wherein a transmission cable 213 of the temperature sensor 21 transmits the temperature signal 210 detected by the pin 211 and/or wherein a further transmission cable 213’ of the temperature sensor 21 transmits the surface temperature signal detected by the measuring element 212.

According to an embodiment, the method comprises a plurality of steps of measuring the internal temperature using a plurality of pins 211 of the temperature sensor 21. Each step of measuring the internal temperature makes it possible to determine a corresponding internal temperature of a food dough inside of which a respective pin 211 of the plurality is inserted.

According to an embodiment, the method comprises a plurality of steps of measuring the surface temperature using a plurality of measuring elements 212. Each step of measuring the surface temperature makes it possible to determine a corresponding surface temperature of a food dough with the surface of which a respective measuring element 212 is in contact.

According to an embodiment, the measuring step comprises a step of measuring the ambient temperature of the internal space V of the dough-rising compartment 10. In the step of measuring the ambient temperature, an additional temperature sensor 22 measures an ambient temperature of the internal space V of the dough-rising compartment 10. In the step of measuring the ambient temperature, the additional temperature sensor 22 generates an additional temperature signal 220 representing the ambient temperature measured by the thermocouple.

According to an embodiment, the measuring step comprises a step of measuring a level of humidity of the internal space V of the dough-ring compartment 10. During the step of measuring the moisture content, a humidity sensor 23 measures a level of humidity of the internal space V of the dough-rising compartment 10 and generates a humidity signal 230, representing said humidity level.

According to an embodiment, the method comprises a step of adjusting physical parameters of the internal space V, preferably a step of adjusting the ambient temperature of the internal space V of the dough-rising compartment 10.

In the step of adjusting the ambient temperature, a thermal conditioning system 30 adjusts the temperature (or other thermodynamic parameters) of the internal space V of the dough-rising compartment 10. According to an embodiment, the adjustment step comprises a cooling step. During the cooling step, a chiller 31 lowers the ambient temperature. For example, the cooling step could correspond to the temperature lowering step A or to the step of maintaining at zero degrees B of the fermentation retarding cycle. However, it is possible that, during the fermentation step E rather than the reactivating step C, it is necessary to activate the chiller to prevent an overheating of the internal space V.

For example, the cooling step is carried out by a cooling cycle 31’, known to an expert in the trade.

According to an embodiment, the adjustment step comprises a heating step. During the cooling step, a heater 32 increases the ambient temperature. For example, the heating step could correspond to the reactivating step C, pre rising D or rising E. However, it is possible that, during the temperature reduction step A or the maintaining at zero degrees B, it is necessary to activate the heater to prevent an excessive cooling of the internal space V. For example, the heating step is performed by an electrical resistance 32’, known to an expert in the trade.

According to an embodiment, the adjustment step includes a humification step. During the humidification step, a humidifier 33 varies a level of moisture content of the internal space V. According to an embodiment, the adjustment step includes a ventilation step

(circulation). In the ventilation step, a fan 34 forces a circulation of air in the internal space V of the dough-rising compartment 10 in such a way that the latter strikes the food dough.

According to an embodiment, the method comprises a control step. In the control step, a control unit 40 generates control signals 401 and controls the thermal conditioning system and/or the humidifier and/or the fan by means of the control signals. The control step comprises a step of entering configuration data 501. In the step for entering configuration data 501 , a user sets, using a user interface 50, the configuration data 501.

According to an embodiment, the control step comprises a step of receiving control signals. In the step for receiving control signals, the control unit 40 receives the temperature signal 210 from the temperature sensor 21. In the step for receiving control signals, the control unit 40 receives the additional temperature signal 220 from the additional temperature sensor 22. During the step for receiving control signals, the control unit 40 receives the humidity signal 230 from the humidity sensor 23. In the step for receiving control signals, the control unit 40 receives the configuration data 501 from the user interface 50.

According to an embodiment, in the generating step, the control unit 40 generates the control signals 401 as a function of (in response to, processing) the temperature signal 210 and/or the additional temperature signal 220 and/or the humidity signal 230 and/or the configuration data 501.

According to an embodiment, the method comprises a switching step. In the switching step, the control unit 40 switches from a first operating configuration, in which it generates the command signals 401 only as a function of (in response to) the temperature signal 210, and a second operating configuration, in which it generates the control signals 401 only as a function of (in response to) the additional temperature signal 220.

According to an embodiment, in the step of entering the configuration data 501 , the user can enter one or more of the following configuration data:

- a selection parameter, representing an operating configuration between the first and the second operating configuration of the control unit 40;

- a first temperature threshold, representing a maximum ambient temperature value which can be reached in the internal space V of the dough-rising compartment 10;

- a second temperature threshold, representing a minimum ambient temperature value which can be reached in the internal space V of the dough-rising compartment 10. According to an embodiment, the control unit 40 switches between the first and the second operating configuration as a function of the selection parameter. According to an embodiment, the control step comprises a limiting step. During the limiting step, a first block (cold temperature block, first module of the control unit 40) prevents the ambient temperature from falling below the second temperature threshold. In other words, the cold temperature block generates control signals 401 to reduce the cooling power of the thermal conditioning system 30 at ambient temperature values measured with the additional temperature sensor 22 less than the second temperature threshold.

During the limiting step, a second block (hot temperature block, second module of the control unit 40) prevents the ambient temperature from rising above the first temperature threshold. In other words, the hot temperature block generates control signals 401 to reduce the heating power of the thermal conditioning system 30 at ambient temperature values measured with the additional temperature sensor 22 greater than the first temperature threshold.

According to an embodiment, the method comprises a correlation step. During the correlation step, the control unit 40 processes the temperature signal 210 and the additional temperature signal 220, to determine a correlation between the two signals. According to an embodiment, the control unit 40 derives a correction coefficient, as a function of the correlation between the two signals. According to an embodiment, the method comprises a step of deriving the temperature signal, in which the control unit 40 derives the temperature signal 210 starting from the additional temperature signal 220, as a function of the correction coefficient.

According to an embodiment, the method comprises a storing step, in which, for a certain quality (type) of food dough, the control unit 40 stores a respective correction coefficient, which is used in the future fermentation processes to derive the internal temperature from the ambient temperature, avoiding the need to use the temperature sensor 21.

According to an embodiment, the method comprises an alarm step, in which the control unit 40 detects a lack of insertion of the measuring end 211’ of the pin 211 in the food dough and notifies the user, for example by means of an audio or visual alarm, of the lack of insertion of the pin 211.