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Process Guide: Marie Biscuits

By: , Posted on: December 15, 2015

marie biscuit

Marie is a classic hard sweet biscuit. Other examples of hard sweet biscuits are Petit Buerre, Rich Tea, Arrowroot, Morning Coffee. They are characterised by an even, attractive colour and texture and good volume. Doughs for hard sweet biscuits have the following features:

  • Doughs have strong, developed gluten which gives an elastic dough, which is sheeted and cut. It often shrinks in the first stage of baking
  • Doughs have low sugar and fat
  • Doughs have water contents typically of around 12%
  • Biscuits are normally baked on a wire-mesh band (except for Marie which is traditionally baked on a steel band)
  • Humidity in the first part of the baking is important to achieve good volume and a smooth surface sheen
  • Biscuits are baked to low moisture contents, around 1.5% – 3.0%


Process for Marie

Description: Marie is a classic biscuit made throughout Europe and Asia. It has a light, crisp, delicate

texture, with pale colour and clear smooth surface.

Product specification

Dimensions:                            66.0 mm diam.

Thickness:                                6.0 mm

Weight:                                   8.3 g

Appearance:                            Smooth surface, clear printing

Colour:                                    Pale golden

Texture:                                   Crisp and light

Moisture:                                1.5%

Marie biscuits are made with medium protein flour and contain SMS to develop a soft extensible dough. The doughs are mixed on horizontal mixers to a temperature of 40-42oC. The dough is sheeted and cut and is traditionally baked on a steel band.


biscuit formulation


Recipe (1) is a good standard Marie, Recipe (2) is a higher quality product.

Critical ingredients

  1. Flour should not exceed 9.0% protein. Higher protein will result in a hard biscuit.
  1. Cornflour and maize flour are used to reduce the total gluten content and make a more tender eating biscuit.
  1. SMS will modify the protein to make a soft extensible dough.\
  1. Marie biscuits are made with medium protein flour and contain SMS to develop a soft extensible dough. The doughs are mixed on horizontal mixers to a temperature of 40-42 degrees C. The dough is sheeted and cut and is traditionally baked on a steel band.


An “all in one mix” on a horizontal mixer. Mixing is critical to developing the soft extensible dough. A mixing action which kneads the dough without too much tearing and extruding is ideal. Mixing time on a typical high speed mixer will be 20-25 minutes. Marie doughs are mixed until the required temperature is achieved. The dough should reach 40-42oC. At this temperature it should be well kneaded and of correct consistency for machining. Higher dough temperatures result in unstable doughs. The dough is used straight away without standing and it is important to maintain the temperature.

Baker Perkins High Speed Horizontal Dough Mixer
Baker Perkins High Speed Horizontal Dough Mixer



The dough may be laminated, but doughs made with SMS are usually sheeted without lamination. Dough scrap incorporation is very important and should be very even and consistent. The temperature of the scrap dough should be as close as possible to the temperature of the new dough. Dough sheet reduction should be gentle and should not exceed the ratio of 2.5:1.

Typical roll gaps are:

Forcing roll gap on sheeter:              18.0 mm

Gauging gap on sheeter:                    9.0 mm

1st gauge roll                                             5.7 mm

2nd gauge roll                                           2.5 mm

Final gauge roll                                        1.1 mm  (Cutting thickness: 1.3 mm)

The doughs shrink and require good relaxation before cutting. Separate cutting and printing rolls on the rotary cutter are recommended to achieve good, clear printing and docker holes, (piercing of holes in the dough pieces).

Cutter design for Maria showing the docker pin arrangement. Note the dough piece is cut as an oval shape to compensate for shrinkage during baking. Drawing and design by ErreBi Technologyan oval shape to compensate for shrinkage during baking. Drawing and design by ErreBi Technology
Cutter design for Maria showing the docker pin arrangement. Note the dough piece is cut as an oval shape to compensate for shrinkage during baking. Drawing and design by ErreBi Technologyan oval shape to compensate for shrinkage during baking.
Drawing and design by ErreBi Technology

rolling machine 1

Baker Perkins forming line with rotary cutting machine
Baker Perkins forming line with rotary cutting machine


Steam may be used at the oven entry to achieve a high humidity. This will improve the surface finish of the biscuit.

Baking time:                5.0 – 6.5 minutes

Temperatures:            200 / 220 / 180oC

Moisture:                       Less than 1.5%

A hybrid oven is ideal with Direct Gas Fired zones followed by Indirect Radiant or Convection zones. The convection zones will dry the product well and ensure an even bland colour, but care must be taken to ensure a low moisture gradient between the centre of the biscuit and the surface, otherwise the product will be prone to “checking”. Adequate baking and cooling time are required.

Baker Pacific Direct Gas Fired / Indirect Radiant oven
Baker Pacific Direct Gas Fired / Indirect Radiant oven


A ratio of cooling to baking time should be at least 1.5:1. This will help to avoid checking (cracking of the biscuits after packaging due to an internal moisture gradient).

Ingredient specifications


The flour shall be milled from good quality soft wheat, free from infestation and impurities, especially pesticides. The flour shall not be treated with enzymes and shall not contain chemical additives. The appearance shall be a good white colour, free from bran particles. The odour shall be free from mustiness and foreign odours.

weak flour table



Protein free starch extracted from maize.


The sugar shall be free from impurities and infestation. The appearance shall be a fine, white crystalline solid, free flowing and free from lumps.

The sugar shall have a sweet taste and be free from odours.

Moisture content:       0.06% maximum

Ash content:                0.03% maximum

Particle size:

Caster sugar:               MA = 276 to 300 um  CV = 16 to 26%

Icing sugar:                 Maximum held on a 100um sieve 6%

Maximum held on a 60um sieve 13%

Tricalcium phosphate may be added to 1.5% max.


MA      Mean aperture

CV        Coefficient of Variation

Invert syrup 70%

Syrup of 70% solids made by acid hydrolysis of sucrose. The result is a 50:50 mixture of dextrose and fructose which are both reducing sugars and contribute to the Maillard reaction in baking.

Dough fat / Shortening

The fat shall be free from impurities and appear clean and bright when melted. The fat should be odourless, free from rancid and foreign flavours. The fat should be produced from good quality crude oils by a process of refining, bleaching and deodorising. It should be made primarily from vegetable oils, but it may contain hydrogenated fish oils.

Free fatty acid (as oleic acid)                              maximum 0.08%

Peroxide value (milli equivalent per kg)        maximum 1.0

Moisture                                                                       maximum 0.1%

Slip melting point (BS 684 1.3 1976)  34 to 37 degrees C.


Dairy fat solids obtained from milk and plasticised with 16% water.


A blend of fats, usually vegetable fats, plasticised with 16% water.

Whey powder

A by-product of cheese. Dried whey is fat free.


A complex natural surfactant obtained from soya beans.

Ammonium bicarbonate (“Vol”) (NH4)HCO3          

A volatile salt, which, when heated liberates carbon dioxide, ammonia gas and water.

Min.                 Max.

Ammonium bicarbonate                    99.0%

Heavy lead                                                  0                      10ppm

Arsenic                                                         0                      1ppm

Basic magnesium carbonate                 0.5                   1.0

Sodium bicarbonate

The most important aerating agent. When heated it liberates carbon dioxide and water, leaving sodium carbonate as the residual salt. Sodium carbonate has a softening action on gluten and darkens the biscuit.

If sodium bicarbonate is heated, only half the carbon dioxide is released, but if an acid is present all the carbon dioxide is released and there is no softening action on the gluten or darkening of the colour of the biscuit.

ACP – Acid calcium phosphate

Acid calcium phosphate is also known as monocalcium phosphate. It is fairly soluble in cold water, but for doughs which are used without standing, a good proportion of the reaction takes place during baking. It is used in conjunction with sodium bicarbonate and ammonium carbonate.


Sodium chloride, used as a flavour enhancer and also to control the rate and extent of fermentation.

SMS – Sodium metabisulphite Na2S2O5

A reducing agent for the modification of the strength of the gluten in doughs

Proteolytic enzyme

Used to soften the gluten in doughs. A white, fine powder.

Recommended source: Kerry Bioscience

Recommended enzymes: Biobake BSC and Profix 100P

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About the Author:

iain davidsonIain Davidson graduated from the School of Industrial Design (Engineering) at Royal College of Art in London in 1965 and joined Baker Perkins Ltd. He was Industrial Design Engineer, working in the Technical Department on the design of new biscuit, bakery and candy processing machines until 1975, gaining a thorough technical knowledge of the machines and processes. In 1990 Iain was appointed Regional Manager Asia Pacific for Baker Perkins and re-located to Indonesia and later in 1997 to China. His appointments included Managing Director of Baker Perkins (Hong Kong) Ltd. and Director of Baker Perkins Japan KK. Iain was responsible for a substantial increase in the company’s biscuit business in Asia During this period the company’s Asian biscuit machinery business grew by over 3 times. Iain established a successful manufacturing facility for biscuit ovens in Dalian, China in 1990 for Baker Perkins and subsequently continued a manufacturing capability for Baker Pacific Ltd. In China, India and Indonesia.

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