Making New Zealand's favourite biscuits
How Griffin’s Makes New Zealand’s Favourite Biscuits
The products we make at Griffin’s come in many shapes, sizes and textures. Whether we’re making Chocolate Biscuits, Cream Biscuits, Sweet or Plain Biscuits, it’s not too different from how you make them at home.
It all starts with the right recipes. Many of our recipes haven’t changed in over 100 years. We also continually challenge ourselves to create new and exciting recipes for New Zealanders to enjoy.
Once we’ve chosen what to make, we get all the right ingredients and mix them together. We then move them into the ovens to be baked.
Different products require different final touches such as coating them in rich chocolate or sprinkling them with all those yummy hundreds and thousands. The finished biscuits get put into packages then get shipped off to stores across New Zealand.
Ready to learn more about how each step works? Let’s start with Recipes!
Each variety of biscuit has its own specially developed recipe. The amount of each ingredient needed and how they are processed has to be carefully controlled. For instance, every batch of Shrewsburys has to taste exactly the same, otherwise it’s no longer a Shrewsbury!
Biscuits are made from four basic ingredients: flour, shortening, sugar and water. However to make a tasty biscuit, many other ingredients are also needed. These include the likes of milk, honey, fruit, oats seeds and chocolate chips.
Depending on each biscuit’s recipe, the balance of ingredients can change quite a bit. For Huntley & Palmers Cream Crackers, we use a lot of flour and water. To make Cookie Bear Chocolate Chippies however, there’s more sugar and fat and the baking process changes completely.
Depending on the recipe we’re using, the ingredients needed get added to the mixer. How the ingredients are mixed determines what the dough will be like. The order in which the materials are added also affects the final product. If flour and water are mixed together first, the flour absorbs the water to make a glue-like substance called gluten, which makes the dough stretchy. This is used for biscuits such as crackers that get cut into shapes.
Alternately if the flour and shortening are mixed together first, the flour can’t absorb the water so no gluten is made. This makes the dough soft and crumbly so it can be moulded into biscuit shapes.
Cutting cracker and hard dough into shapes
Cracker dough is stretchy allowing it to be made into flat sheets by rollers. Depending on the type of cracker being made, the sheets might be folded over itself to create several layers, sometimes even up to 14 layers. This is called “laminating” and gives crackers a flaky texture. Once the perfect thickness is achieved, the layers are cut into the biscuit shapes.
1. Laminating 2. Rotary Cutting
3. Scrap take off and return 4. Sheeting
5. Rotary Moulding 6. Oven Feed
Moulding soft dough into shapes
Soft doughs (also known as 'short' doughs) get formed into the biscuit shape by pressing the dough into a specially shaped mould. This is done using a machine called a Rotary Moulder where the desired shapes are on a roller that the dough is pressed into.
Another way to mould soft dough is with an Extruder. Dough is forced through a tube where a special wire is then used to cut the dough as it exits the tube, perfect for making cookies.
When dough is baked, all that heat causes chemical reactions between the ingredients to determine the flavour, colour and texture of the final biscuit.
Unlike your oven at home, our ovens have a long conveyor belt inside (made either of sold steel or a wire mesh). The shaped dough goes in at one end of the oven, moves through the heating zones for just the right amount of time, then comes out at the end of the oven perfectly baked every time!
In the past these ovens were heated with oil, but that was much too expensive and dirty to meet today’s demands. Now the job is done using either natural gas or electricity.
After being baked, the biscuits are cooled and are then ready for the fun extras that give each biscuit its unique personality.
Some biscuits such as Cameo Creams and Swiss Treats get a layer of cream added to them. Depending on the biscuit, a layer of chocolate may be poured across it all or perhaps another biscuit may be placed on top to make a sandwich.
Some biscuits get an extra kick of flavouring added to them, which helps create all the fun flavour options for savoury brands like Snax.
Some biscuits get a special topping like mallow or toffee that requires a bit more precision. First the biscuits are arranged in exact rows then are squirted with a dab of the topping. Once the biscuits cool, they’re moved onto the next stage, the Enrober.
Enrobing is when a layer of chocolate is added to a biscuit. Chocolate is heated to a liquid and poured like a waterfall as biscuits pass underneath. It can be added to just one side like a Chocolate Wheaten or on both sides like a Chit Chat. The chocolate is then cooled to a solid and ready to be packed.
Depending on the kind of biscuit, different types of packaging are used to protect them. Nobody likes to open a packet of biscuits to see them all broken. Packets are carefully designed around the individual size and shape of each biscuit so they fit snugly and don’t slide around. Products are then packed in cardboard cartons to protect them further during their trip to the store.
Robots are used on chocolate biscuit lines to pick up every individual biscuit and place them into trays. These robots are controlled by vision systems, which can detect any defects in the biscuits. This ensures that product is only packed if it meets Griffin’s high quality standards.
Where possible, the least amount of material possible is used to make packaging. This helps more packages fit on trucks, reducing the number of trucks that have to drive around. Less packaging also reduces the amount of waste that gets created, which is better for the planet.
The Distribution System
Boxes of biscuits are placed on a pallet using robots and are then wrapped in stretch-wrap to secure it during the ride. The pallets go to warehouses and wait to be loaded onto trucks and delivered to customers.
Every pallet is given a unique bar code and is scanned into a computer, which enables us to know exactly how many biscuits have been made and where each pallet is. This helps us make sure that the right products are getting to the right customers at the right time. It also alerts us to when more ingredients or packaging materials are needed for the next batch.
And that’s how New Zealand’s favourite biscuits are made!