We are experiencing intermittent problems with gluten formation in our wafer batter What causes this problem

Gluten development is undesirable in wafer batters because it can lead to blockages in pipes or nozzles of batter distribution systems. This can lead to uneven distribution of batter on the plates and the incomplete formation of wafer sheets.

Gluten formation depends on three main factors: the presence of protein in the flour, the hydration of that protein from the addition of water and the input of energy during mixing. In batter systems the ratio of water to flour solids is usually high enough to lower batter viscosity to such an extent that gluten formation should not occur (Cauvain and Young, 2000). However, wafer batters are often pumped and recirculated through holding tanks to prevent separation of the solids while they are standing and this may cause shear in a number of areas of the pipework. Shear leads to work and subsequently gluten formation.

Since the recirculation of wafer batters is a practical expedient then the ingredient specification or batter formulation will have to be changed to alleviate the problem. Lowering the overall protein content of the flour used is the most obvious way of reducing the potential for gluten formation. This may be achieved by using weaker or softer milling wheats. Alternatively you could use a low-protein, starch-rich fraction from an air-classified flour. Typically this would equate to particles in the range 15 to 40 ^m.

Alternatively you could replace a portion of your standard flour with a heat-treated flour. Heat treatment denatures the protein and restricts its gluten-forming potential (see 2.9) but will affect water absorption, and an increase in the water addition will be necessary in order to maintain a standard batter viscosity. Another way to reduce gluten formation would be to replace a portion of the standard flour with wheat or some other suitable starch.

Lowering the protein content of the flour used in your batters may have an adverse effect on the wafer strength, making them more fragile and so more prone to physical damage.

Reference

CAUVAIN, S.P. and YOUNG, L.S. (2000) Bakery Food Manufacture and Quality: Water control and effects, Blackwell Science, Oxford, UK.

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