Although the blast freezers at Junior’s Cheesecakes & Desserts, Burlington, NJ, are often full of produce, they don’t stay long.
“The good news is that cheesecake freezes really well thanks to the way we make it,” owner Alan Rosen said. “If you let it come to room temperature, it’s just as creamy and rich as if it came straight out of your oven. When I bring them home, I leave them on the counter all weekend. It’s me. So the key to enjoying a great cheesecake is room temperature.
The bakery uses four FoodTools slicers for 10-inch cakes sold to customers who sell cakes by the slice, placing paper dividers between the slices for easy serving later.
Before being packaged on one of the five lines, the frozen cheesecakes are sent to one of two short tunnel ovens, which are the Middleby Marshall and XLT pizza ovens, to facilitate removal from the mold. Jason Schwartz, president of Junior, explained that one remained in the building when the company purchased it, and the bakery purchased another for the task.
Workers troubleshoot cakes and place them on a disc for packaging. The cakes are surrounded by a cardboard sleeve before being boxed.
“It’s a planter because that homemade feel that we just showed you in the baking process, people can see it on the cakes,” Rosen said. “The reason we put it up is because a lot of retailers like to put it upright, so the cake doesn’t hit the front of the box. »
A Delkor box forming machine feeds two packaging lines with Junior’s signature orange and white striped boxes. On this day, the 6-inch cakes are packed in boxes with a window on top. The case maker makes the cases and glues them before they go down the line. The bakery has five packaging lines, putting the cakes into boxes or clear domed plastic, and each line is equipped with Shanklin sealing machines and heating tunnels.
After the cakes are packaged, they receive stickers identifying the product, nutritional information and batch numbers.
On another line, the boxes are folded by hand before being loaded with the finished product. Another features a white chocolate raspberry in clear domes. All cakes go through a Safeline, Fortress or Mettler-Toledo metal detector before being hand-packed in corrugated boxes. And at the end of the line is a Lantech stretch wrapper.
The company’s Little Fellas are packaged in nine-unit detachable boxes that can be displayed in retail stores. Little Fellas are produced during the night shift along with Minis, which are snack-sized 1.5 oz cheesecakes. Minis are packaged in boxes of 12 units for retail and 24 units for club stores.
The company will soon have four new operational Fanuc robotic arms to pack the Little Fellas. This will allow the bakery to put up to four different varieties in one box.
Decorating and icing are mostly done by hand. However, along one side of the room is an automated Unifiller cake-making line, which the bakery installed a year ago.
During Baking & SnackingWhen he visited, Italian cream cakes were being assembled. Workers placed two layers of yellow cakes with nuts side by side on the production line. The icing is placed on one side, then the second half of the cake is placed on top by an employee. The cake goes down the line and the frosting is layered over the top and sides of the cake, then some touch-up work can be done manually as needed. Before it’s finished with coconut on the sides, an Apex Motion Control Baker-Bot frosting swirls around the top edges of the cake.
“They can mirror anything a human can do,” Mr. Rosen said of the Baker-Bot.
It is a versatile piece of equipment that can handle a variety of different applications and finished patterns like stripes or dots. A Unifiller enrober coats the cakes with chocolate ganache. Much of the room that day is filled with workers spreading whipped cream and putting sprinkles on heart-shaped cakes.
A Topos Mondial mixer and four Hobart mixers are used to prepare all creams and icings for cakes, including buttercream, whipped cream, chocolate fondant and more.
“We’re not holding anything back,” says Rosen. “It goes from the mixer straight onto the cake.”
This is also where specialty cakes are assembled, which can take some effort. Take the 12-pound Skyscraper devil’s food, for example.
“We put a chocolate cake in the bottom, then a layer of fudge, pushed the cheesecake into the circle, then another layer of fudge, another layer of cake, another layer of fudge, another layer of cake . Push that down with a tampon. Then we freeze it,” Rosen explained. “We flame the ring, slide the ring and ice the outside. We finish with the crumbs and fries.
Building 4 is where cakes that aren’t cheesecakes are baked. This includes layered cakes as well as those sliced horizontally for cheesecake bases. A Topos Mondial mixer handles the mixing of the cake batter, and a Unifiller line is used to grease the molds and deposit the batter. Two Gemini rack ovens and three Reed ovens in this area bake the cakes.
“They’re doing chocolate cake right now,” Mr. Schwartz said. “Today is chocolate day. We try to make the same cake all day so fewer changes.
For the cheesecake bases, the cooled cakes pass through Krumbein cutting machines. One cake provides five ¼ inch cheesecake bases and the domes are used as crumb toppings.
“When we started, we did it on a deli slicer,” Rosen said. “I’m talking about when we were cooking them above the restaurant.”
Mr. Rosen said the bakery is at around 40% to 50% capacity at this point. He is considering more packaging automation for his next investment and is optimistic despite inflation concerns.
The bakery recently raised prices by 3% to 5%, although raw material costs rose by double digits. Increasing volume, working smarter and ensuring nothing is wasted are part of the plan to keep costs manageable. And the bakery remains vigilant in the face of supply problems.
“We’re going to keep our eyes on it,” Mr. Rosen said. “We buy plastic during the summer that we will use in the fourth quarter. It’s a lot of money to keep on the floor, but we do it because you can’t put a cake in nothing. You need to put it in a plastic dome or a corrugated box. We are far ahead on packaging.
He plans to continue on the path of organic growth, clinging to tradition by sticking to this 72-year-old cheesecake recipe while researching new formats. He works on the principle that the bakery is only as good as his last cake, so he and his team members need to stay on their game.
“I don’t think we’ll ever be the biggest bakery in the world,” he said, “but I want to be the best.”This article is an excerpt from the June 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the full article on Junior’s Cheesecakes & Desserts,Click here.