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Polin Cookie Depositor


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Maybe a long shot, but is anyone here familiar with the Polin Multi-drop cookie depositor?

 

A chef friend just bought a used one, I'm trying to help him figure it out because I have more pastry expertise but I have never used a depositor.

 

It has a couple of dies and the wire cutter.  We made a batch of cookies today and they were unevenly portioned and raggedly cut.  He does have the manual but programming the thing isn't particularly intuitive and we don't yet understand how to adjust the machine (roller speed, cutter speed, etc) or how to adjust recipes to work well with it.  We need the 'for dummies' version 😆.  Anyone know the secrets?

 

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I don't have direct experience with the Polin machine, but I have with a depositor by FBM which is almost the same machine with a different computer.


Wire cutting is tricky, takes a bit of experience to control it.
You need recipes with pretty high butter content, around 60-80%. You need to follow the pâte sucrée method: start with warm and soft butter (22-24°C), almost on the verge of melting; add the sugar and mix as little as possible; add the liquids (whole eggs, egg whites, whatever) and mix as little as possible; add the powders (flour, cocoa powder, whatever) and mix as little as possible. You don't want to add air to your dough, so you don't want to whip the butter. Mixing must be as little as possible, both to not whip the butter and to avoid gluten development. Your goal is to end with a dough that's really soft but not much sticky.
Temperatures are really important. Your ingredients must be at room temperature, otherwise the dough will become too stiff. If you add liquids from the fridge (4°C) and flour from a storage room at low temperature (10°C) then you lower too much the final temperature of the dough, so the butter will get too hard. Your room temperature must be warm, not cold and not hot, ideally around 21-22°C. If your room is over 24°C then the dough will be too soft and the butter will start to melt partially, creating disaster. If your room is under 18°C then it's pure nightmare. Same with your machine, especially the die you are using. If you are using a cold die then the part of the dough in contact with the die will get hard and stop moving down, while the dough in the center will keep warm and continue moving down, so you'll end up with a domed cookie instead of a flat one, which will cause uneven baking and lots of waste.
The big problem with this machine is that the dough will need some help to move down through the rollers then to the die. Especially the sides of the machine: the central cavities will give higher cookies than the ones on the sides. Different heights mean uneven baking, so you'll end up with the upper and lower rows that are overcooked when compared with the central rows (waste). We solved this with a big wooden spatula: you pour the dough in the hopper, start the machine, then pick the spatula and press it on the dough with quick up-down movements, helping the dough to go down through the rollers. Ideally you start from one side on the hopper and end to the other side during each cutting cycle, so it takes a bit of experience and coordination. The lower end of the spatula must be perpendicular to the rollers, otherwise you risk it going between the rollers, so the spatula will break and you'll have to bin all the dough. This is not the best solution since it's a bit risky on the safety side (you don't put your hands inside the hopper, but still you are putting a spatula inside something you should not), but it's the only way to get even rows of cookies.
About programming, wire cutting is pretty easy, you just need to find the correct speed and time. Time is dependant on the rollers speed, meaning you can vary the rollers speed, then change the time and you can get perfect cookies every time. So this depends on how soft is the dough and how quick you want to work. The quicker you program the rollers the more probable you'll get some errors. The slower you program the rollers, the more time it will take to form a pan, which means higher costs. Aim for something in the middle.
About dimensions, I suggest to weigh the full pan after depositing it, not a single cookie. This way you have more precision. Write down your aimed final weight (say 800 g for 48 cookies) and check every now and then (about every 10 pans) to control you are being consistent. No matter what you do you will need to keep adjusting every time you make again those cookies, the variables are so many (especially temperature) that you will always need to fine tune the program to get your aimed final weight.
With wire cutting it's better to go with the single cycle (one pan at a time). Put a pan, start the machine, pick up the spatula, press it on the dough, when the pan is done put it on the rack, repeat.


I don't have experience with cookies formed with the pastry tips. You need higher butter content for them (80-100%) and to use whipped butter recipes. Wire-cut cookies are much easier to form, bake and package.


I made tons of macaron shells. With them you need to go in the continuous way, one pan after another without pauses, otherwise the batter will drip down the pastry tips, creating a huge mess. You can't avoid making a mess, no hope, but with macaron shells you want to go quick and continuous without stopping. Swiss meringue is your favourite choice here.


Those machines are big moneymakers. All alone I arrived to make 100 kg of cookies (world peace cookies by Hermé /  Greenspan, the chocolate + salt ones) in one day. Not only forming, I did everything alone: scaling, mixing, forming and baking. With a guy assisting me (mixing the batter and managing the oven, so he was not full time with me) we made the shells for over 6000 macarons in one day. Big profit margins there.

 

 


Teo

 

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Teo

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@teonzo thank you, that helps!  We were thinking we needed a pusher or tamper to help feed the dough evenly, thanks for confirming that is normal.

 

The World Peace cookies are actually a recipe we taste-tested and liked but haven't scaled up to try depositing.  The recipe calls for chocolate chunks, but I'm worried they would break the wire (I've snapped my share of guitar wires).  Do you remember if yours had chocolate chips/chunks?

 

The recipe we ran through yesterday was a typical shortbread with the butter and sugar creamed first.  They have a 40mm die but want a cookie that spreads to about 50mm to fill a tray that goes into a box.  The shortbread didn't spread much, so more butter would also help with that.

 

 I think the computer is the most confusing part, it's not a friendly iPhone app 😟  I'll suggest slower speeds.  I do hope this machine pays off for them, it's a catering company who had been doing some good volume but that's gone. 

 

 

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If you are dealing with a standard cookie dough (not a fluid batter like the one for macarons) then it's impossible to get uniform cookies, you need to press the dough down whatever way you can. The big wood spatula worked best for us.


No chocolate chunks in the world peace cookies we made. I called them world peace cookies because I knew these cookies before going in that pastry shop, but they were using a recipe from a course, not the original one. Seemed like the 10th passage from Hermé to pastry chef 1, then to pastry chef 2, so on. In their version the chocolate was melted, not in chunks. The ratios were exactly the same ones of the world peace cookies, that was the only difference (which seemed like a mistake made during one of the passages). The method was this: mix butter with sugar; add melted chocolate (untempered, around 35°C) and mix; add the powders (flour, cocoa powder, salt, chemical leavening), previously sifted together, then mix. Recipe scales up perfectly, I made 27 kg batches. Absolutely no troubles with the depositor, they cut like a charm, unless the dough got cold. They spread quite a bit during baking, so they should reach your 50mm goal.


With shortbread it's hard to get it spreading that much. The ones I did had almost no spread, they kept their shape perfectly. You would need to use more butter, probably whip it to add air, then add a good amount of leavening (I'm not a fan of leavening in shortbread).


About business, the usual trouble is finding people willing to buy your product. If they succeed in this, then those machines are great for profits. If they have a good market for macarons then they are the best choice, macarons are a goldmine. Only problem is finding the oompa-loompas to fill and sandwich the macarons: spend a couple days sandwiching thousands of macarons and you'll feel more braindead than a zombie.

 

 


Teo

 

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Teo

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