Posts Tagged ‘baking’

The Best of Bread

September 24th, 2016
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ryebakercoverJewish bakers are rethinking everything they thought they knew about rye bread. And baguettes. And croissants. And scones.

When Stanley Ginsberg first envisioned writing a cookbook about rye bread, his thoughts turned to the things he grew up eating as a Jewish kid in post-WWII Brooklyn: pumpernickel, kornbroyt (New York corn rye), and caraway-flecked delicatessen rye. Writers, after all, are routinely advised to “write what you know.” And as a born and bred New Yorker whose previous cookbook was essentially a love song to the breads, cookies, and cakes found in the Jewish bakeries of his youth, Ginsberg knew from rye bread—or so he thought.

“I was in search of the breads that my parents and grandparents ate in Europe,” he told me recently. “That was the wedge that opened the door.”

His research ultimately took him into unfamiliar territory. The Rye Baker: Classic Breads from Europe and America, out this month, is a deep-dive exploration into the craft behind working with a dough that Ginsberg calls “sticky and challenging” (compared to wheat), but entirely beguiling. “Rye was the stuff that, for centuries, fueled Europe’s empires,” he said. “So there’s an incredible tradition and culture of rye bread in much of the Western world that we don’t really know about here.”

The 75 recipes in The Rye Baker (of more than 140 that Ginsberg uncovered) transcend Jewish cuisine, covering the snappy crispbread found in Sweden, Germany’s crusty rye boules, and France’s fragrant apple-cider rye. Still, from the perspective of Jewish cuisine, Ginsberg’s timing for a rye-focused book couldn’t be better. Over the last half-decade, a new crop of Jewish bakeries has opened that celebrates this same artisanal baking spirit. Just like Ginsberg, the bakers at the helm of these establishments are starting from what they know and transforming it into something fresh, unexpected, and delicious.

Take Essen Bakery in South Philadelphia. The petite bakery and café opened in April of this year, and has already developed a cult following for its za’atar-spiced challah. Owner Tova du Plessis is a South African transplant who grew up baking with her mother. “I have clear memories of my mom showing me how to shape babka as a young child,” she told me. As an adult, her challah quickly became the stuff of legends among her Friday night dinner community. “I was always pushing myself to impress my friends, and it just kept getting better—lighter, fluffier, better crumb, better flavor,” she said.

Not surprisingly, her plan to become a doctor morphed into a pastry degree from the Culinary Institute of America. And when a bakery space opened up just a 15-minute walk from her home in Philadelphia, she jumped at the opportunity to turn her passion into a business. “The first thing that came to my mind was to open a Jewish place,” she said. “The babka you buy at the store has been sitting on the shelf for weeks and is full of preservatives. I wanted to offer something different.”

Today, Essen Bakery sells babka in two flavors: cinnamon hazelnut and chocolate-halva. “The halva takes it to a new level,” she said. She also makes an Israeli-style rugelach, which starts with a soft, yeasted dough and fills it with high-quality chocolate. In addition to challah, Essen sells a rye bread with pickle juice, mustard, and caraway seeds baked directly into the dough. “It basically tastes like a deli sandwich before you put anything on it,” du Plessis said.

In Montreal, Jeffrey Finkelstein runs Boulangerie Hof Kelsten, a bustling wholesale bread company he opened in 2009. Finkelstein had spent several years working in some of the best restaurant kitchens in the world, then came home to try something close to his heart. “I wanted to re-create my grandmother’s dining room,” he said, recalling the lavish yet homey meals she would make for Shabbat dinner and the holidays, and the rugelach and fresh-squeezed orange juice she regularly greeted visitors with. He also wanted to reclaim the from-scratch cooking that had once typified Montreal’s Jewish eateries but had been lost in recent decades. “Back in the day, Jewish smoked-meat places made everything on-site,” he said. “The old places that are still around have huge rooms to smoke stuff in that haven’t been used in 50 years.”

So he started baking—in his mother’s kitchen. “She was traveling for a few months, so I turned her home into a micro-bakery,” Finkelstein said. “By the time she came back, there was nothing in her fridge but dough and her dining-room table had become a proofing station.”

His persistence (and his mother’s superhuman patience) paid off because he now employs 22 people and bakes sourdough, challah, and caraway-flecked rye along with other breads for nearly 50 wholesale customers. In 2013, he added a café that serves Jewish-inspired sandwiches (brisket, chopped liver, gravlax, and a house-made “veal bacon” VLT) and pastries from buttery, jam-filled rugelach to bialys and everything-bagel-spiced scones.

Craft baking has reached into the kosher market as well. In 2012, Miami-native Zak Stern opened an exceedingly hip bakery and cafe in his hometown called Zak the Baker. Unless one is specifically looking for it, there is almost no indication that the place, which could easily be featured on the pages of Kinfolk, adheres to the strictest possible interpretation of the kosher laws.

Except for the challah, all of the breads Stern and his team make—multigrain, rye, country wheat, and sourdough baguettes, among others—are made with natural leaven instead of commercial yeast. And the café menu, with its pastrami-spiced gravlax, Swiss and sauerkraut on rye “Reuben,” schmaltz herring and crème fraiche toast, and bevy of pastries (everything from cheese danishes and coconut macaroons to the Cuban-inspired guava-and-cheese pastelitos), regularly attracts lines out the door.

Meanwhile, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Levi Krinsky runs Brooklyn Artisan Bakehouse, a wholesale kosher bread company with, for the last six months, a bustling retail cafe. Like du Plessis, Krinsky did not start out with culinary ambitions. But in 2014, inspired by his mother’s Jewish Italian heritage, he decided to build a pizza oven from scratch. “I really just wanted a summer project,” he said. “But once it was completed, I realized someone had to make pizza and breads in it. That is what set me off.” So he began watching YouTube videos, reading baking cookbooks (Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish is a favorite) and teaching himself the art of bread baking. Meanwhile, Crown Heights’ Orthodox and Lubavitch communities were beginning to seek out artisanal kosher food, but the neighborhood did not have any kosher-certified craft bakeries.

Krinsky focuses less on traditional Jewish breads (as those are already available in abundance in his neighborhood), and more on making the best possible versions of European classics, which are harder to find. Almost as soon as he started selling his loaves of ciabatta and sourdough and rustic French baguettes at a local gourmet food shop, people came running. Before long, Brooklyn Artisan Bakehouse was supplying nearly two dozen supermarkets plus a handful of restaurants and caterers. The recently opened cafe, which serves coffee, salads and egg dishes, and a variety of pastries, has also grown quickly with almost no marketing. “Most places in the neighborhood buy parbaked pastries that are made with shortening and preservatives,” Krinksy said. “Our croissants, cinnamon buns, and scones are all made on-site and with butter. We are a totally different experience.”

New York City, of course, has a long pedigree of Jewish baking. At the turn of the 20th century, there were three dozen kosher bakeries on the Lower East Side alone, as well as a robust bagel-baking union that boasted 300 members and conducted meetings in Yiddish. Today, a handful of shops keep that legacy alive, like the 100-year old Orwashers, which badges itself as the city’s original artisan bakery. But by bringing high-quality European-style breads to contemporary kosher consumers, Krinsky is charting a new path in the city.

So why is Jewish bread having a renaissance now? According to Ginsberg, for millennial bakers, it represents a form of “cultural t’shuvah” (Hebrew for “returning”). As with the larger Jewish food movement, he described it as “a search for connection with earlier generations in a way that is easily accessible.” In other words, eating freshly baked rye or challah that tastes like the breads our ancestors ate, or dipping a hunk of kosher sourdough baguette into high-quality olive oil, offers an opportunity to merge one’s Jewish and contemporary identities together in a single bite. Not bad for a piece of toast.



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Baguette vending machine bakes up French-style bread at anytime

August 6th, 2016
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Micro bakery Le Bread Xpress offers oven-baked baguettes on demand, with no trip to France needed. Sacré bleu!

It’s hard to top the greatest food convenience since sliced bread, but the Le Bread Xpress vending machine might be it.

Dispensing warm baguettes from a machine, Le Bread Xpress wants to make sure hungry clients can grab their favorite French staple whenever their hearts desire. The loafs are partially cooked when they are loaded into the machine, then completely baked when ordered. Benoit Herve, the company’s CEO and founder, said on the company’s website that the idea came from his search for a baguette in the San Francisco area.

“I then discovered a French baker who has built a micro-bakery to deliver freshly baked baguettes from the oven on-demand 24/7,” Herve said.

The machine uses a cloud-based interface. Patrons can pay for the baguettes via cash, credit card, Android Pay and Apple Pay. Currently, the only Le Bread Xpress can be found in San Francisco.



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Predicting loaf volume without baking the bread

June 24th, 2016
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A new method for predicting bread loaf volume without baking the bread promises to save researchers time and money.

Julie Kindelspire, then a doctoral student at South Dakota State University, developed the mathematical model as part of a project to determine which wheat cultivars make the best bread. “It’s a shortcut,” Kindelspire said. “What once took 11 equations to calculate, now takes one.”

She and her adviser, professor Padu Krishnan, worked with wheat breeders Karl Glover and Melanie Caffé-Treml. For their work, they received the award for Best Paper from the American Association of Cereal Chemists International. Kindelspire is now a senior research scientist at POET in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Caffé-Treml is the oats breeder at South Dakota State.

The research was supported by the South Dakota Wheat Commission and U.S. Department of Agriculture Hatch Act funding through the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station.

Developing a shortcut

Kindelspire discovered a correlation between the dough’s ability to stretch and the stability of the walls of the gas-filled bubbles. “I found a relationship between dough extensibility and how it relates to strain hardening,” she said. “A higher strain hardening index is better for loaf volume.”

Researchers can now use this simplified process to tell the breeders which wheat varieties have better baking potential. “Breeders want me to look at the flour and tell them if this variety is good — now we have a faster way of doing that,” Krishnan said.

“This shortcut works based on the data that I had,” Kindelspire added. “It will be interesting to see if it can be used in labs from other countries.”

Calculating loaf volume

“The holy grail of the baking industry is loaf volume — the bigger the volume, the better,” Krishnan said. For the project, the food scientists examined 19 genotypes of hard white and red spring wheat grown in several years at six South Dakota locations.

Evaluating new wheat cultivars is difficult because the amount of grain is limited. “We don’t have a lot of flour,” Kindelspire noted.

“To get good volume, you need to look at the air cells inside the dough,” Krishnan explained. Kindelspire pointed out, “It’s all about bubbles.”

Sifting the flour, mixing it with water and kneading incorporate air into the dough — this process creates a majority of the bubbles. “People think that the yeast does all the work,” Krishnan said, but the yeast only produces the carbon dioxide that fills the bubbles.

It’s the chemistry happening in the flour-water mixture via the gluten and starch — the matrix being formed, he explained. “We’re trying to optimize those factors that create a cohesive dough, balancing strength and elasticity to make the best loaves.”

Receiving recognition

The researchers will receive the Texture Technologies Quality Research award for Best Paper at the annual meeting Oct. 23-36 in Savannah, Georgia. They will be presented with a plaque and a $1,000 honorarium.

“It’s a very big deal,” said Krishnan, who has spearheaded research to test wheat cultivars during the breeding process for baking quality. “This speaks to the caliber of the basic and applied food research conducted in the crop quality lab.”

Kindelspire said, “It’s nice to know that peers in the industry think it’s an important piece of work and has value in terms of research.”



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Lallemand Launches Aromatic Yeast for Baked Goods

September 13th, 2014
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With limited fermentation activity, Lallemand’s Florapan yeast is perfect for pizza dough and bakery products with unique flavor profiles.

Bakers that want to stand out from the crowd and offer more savory products now have new options: Lallemand Baking Solutions has launched a range of natural aromatic Florapan yeast. Carefully selected from Lallemand’s best brewers and oenological yeast strains, Florapan yeasts produce a generous bouquet of fruit and floral aromas. With limited fermentation activity, they are perfect for pizza dough and bakery products with unique flavor profiles.

Bread and bakery products are an essential part of the Europeans diet. Nevertheless, a large proportion of consumers (43% in Spain, 40% in Italy, 35% in France, 32% in Germany and 28% in England) would like a wider range of flavors in BVP products (Mintel, 2012).

Always ahead of the curve, Lallemand has developed a new range of aromatic yeasts, the Florapan products. These strains of yeast produce aromatic compounds such as ethyl hexanoate (apple, banana), ethyl octanoate (pineapple, pear) and ethyl decanoate (hazelnut, floral) which are also found in wine. The odor detection thresholds of ethyl hexanoate, ethyl octanoate and ethyl decanoate are respectively, 0.001, 0.01 and 0.51 mg/kg. According to our analysis, significant amounts of these esters are present in sourdoughs fermented for 24 hours with Florapan aromatic yeasts:

  • Florapan A16, producing 166 mg/kg of ethyl hexanoate, 94 mg/kg of ethyl octanoate and 64 mg/kg of ethyl decanoate. Its slow fermentation capability, especially at low temperatures, makes it ideal for refrigerated pizza dough.
  • Florapan A17, producing 152 mg/kg of ethyl hexanoate, 120 mg/kg of ethyl octanoate, and 83 mg/kg of ethyl decanoate, provides fruity aromas particularly valuable in sourdough.
  • Florapan A18, producing 83 mg/kg of ethyl hexanoate, 37 mg/kg of ethyl octanoate, and 41 mg /kg of ethyl decanoate, provides exotic and buttery flavors that can support the unique flavor profile of certain bakery products.

To guarantee the aromatic contribution of Florapan aromatic yeasts in the final product, after baking, they should be used in the preferment or with an extended proof time. In pizza dough, they can be used for both their leavening and flavoring properties. They can also be used in the production of sourdough bread as their addition to the sourdough increases the development of aroma without adding bakers yeast to the final dough.


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Ingredients, Mixes Benefit from Boom in Home Baking

July 12th, 2014
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bread-imageLaunches of bakery ingredients and mixes recorded by Innova Market Insights rose to well over 5,000 globally in the 12 months to the end of March 2014, accounting for over 14.5% of total bakery introductions over the same period.

Despite the apparently inexorable rise of convenience foods and the “cash-rich, time-poor” consumer, some parts of the world have maintained a high level of interest in home baking from scratch.

Other countries, such as the United States and the UK, had definitely moved away from home baking, preferring to buy prepared cakes in a ready-to-eat format, tending to lose interest even in bakery mixes, let alone baking from scratch.

“It is these latter nations that are now seeing a reversal in fortunes for the home baking market, with it rising again from the ashes, driven initially perhaps by financial constraints but more recently by the runaway success of TV shows featuring celebrity chefs and bakers and reality-style competitions, perhaps most famously the UK’s Great British Bake Off,” said Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights. “This has impacted not only on the ingredients used for baking from scratch, such as flour, culinary fruit and nuts and decorations and coatings, but also the bakery mixes market, which can still provide an acceptable middle ground between going totally back to basics and buying in fully prepared convenience options.”

Launches of bakery ingredients and mixes recorded by Innova Market Insights rose to well over 5,000 globally in the 12 months to the end of March 2014, accounting for over 14.5% of total bakery introductions over the same period, up from 13.5% in the previous 12-month period and from less than 10% five years previously.

As might be expected with the number of countries, cultures and cuisines involved, Europe led launch activity, with nearly 37% of the total. Western Europe alone accounted for nearly 30% of launches, while Asia had about one-fifth, North America 16% and Latin America just under 10%.

The significance of bakery ingredients and mixes for each region can perhaps be better illustrated in terms of share of bakery launches as a whole. Australia leads here, with ingredients and mixes accounting for over 30% of total bakery launches in the country, ahead of the United States with over 22%, Latin America with just over 16% and Western Europe with over 15%.

There are significant differences between countries, however, with the rise of home baking in the UK, resulting in launches reaching over 20% of total bakery introductions. This is up from 10% five years previously and taking it well ahead of the Western European average.

“This momentum will need to be maintained as companies seek to improve the accessibility of home baking and offer increasingly sophisticated and value-added innovations and novelties. There has been a growing focus on premium products, including chef-endorsed lines, new formats such as liquid mixes, ready-to-use packs, and more complex and sophisticated decorative options, as well as a whole range of character-licensed products for the children’s market,” Williams concluded.

Source: Asia Food Journal


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All Things Baking 2012

September 7th, 2012
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Mark Your Calendars for All Things Baking 2012: September 9-11

All Things Baking is making an impact with progressive bakers, pastry chefs, cake artists, chocolatiers, restaurant managers, bakery directors and more. High-energy and idea-filled, this Innovative retail trade event offers unmatched education, participatory demonstrations and the full scope of new products and services to help retail culinary professionals keep their businesses competitive, profitable and on top of the trends. ATB is supported by the Retail Bakers of America, the American Bakers Association and BEMA.


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Canada’s Baking and Sweets Show

October 1st, 2011
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The wait is over as Canada’s Baking and Sweets Show opens its doors to consumers for the first time ever.

The event, which runs Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ont., will be a treat for the eyes and taste buds as celebrity experts create confectionary masterpieces and a parade of delectable dessert samples.

Celebrity guests Buddy Valastro (TLC’s “Cake Boss”), Canada’s own “Cupcake Girls” and “The Happy Baker” will be on hand, in addition to professional chefs Michelle Bommarito and Greggy Sorriano.

The show also features a demo kitchen stage where visitors can learn about special decorating techniques, out of the ordinary ingredients, and the latest in baking products, equipment and technology, and a competition stage to watch the baking drama unfold as competitors arrive at the podium to unveil their pièces de resistance.

Show goers can join celebrity experts for a series of baking demo classes on a variety of topics. Michelle Bommarito will guide six classes on Friday and Bonnie Gordon will host six on Saturday and six on Sunday. The cost is is $15 per class.

One lucky show attendee will be the Baker’s Kitchen Sweepstakes grand prize of a $20,000 “Baker’s Kitchen” courtesy of Pure Design Custom Cabinetry, plus $7,000 in kitchen appliances, courtesy of Coast Wholesale Appliances and Kitchen Aid.

The show runs 12:00 pm to 9:00 pm on Sept. 30, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm on Oct. 1 and 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on Oct. 2.

For complete show details, visit


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Artisan bread basics

January 21st, 2011
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A loaf of bread is simple more than a sumo f its parts

Once you take flour, water, salt and yeast and develop them in a mixer, what forms is a dough, which is the result of the water hydrating the flour particles.

The yeast begins to consume the simple sugars that are enzymatically unlocked from the starch that is, in turn, regulated by the salt and the temperature of the dough. The one thing that cannot be overcome by this alchemy is substandard ingredients. Bakers should always use the highest quality ingredients they can afford – and that their customers will pay for – to make their products and ensure that they are using ingredients that are appropriate for each product they make.

Along with the magic of baking comes the realization that this is a natural process to, hopefully, make the same breads each day throughout the year. Consistency is obtainable if bakers exercise control at each stage of the process, and this begins with ingredients. Bakers must require ingredient suppliers to deliver consistent ingredients. If a bakery has variability in the performance to its ingredients, no amount of work will allow it to deliver consistent products to its customers.

They demand it of you; you should demand it of your supplier.


Preferments is a certain percentage of the total flour called that is allowed to ferment for a period of time before being mixed with the remainder of the flour and other ingredients into a dough.

Preferments can be in the form of a sponge (flour and water plus a small amount of yeast fermented for a shorter period of time), a liquid levain (120% hydration, fermented with a natural yeast culture), a biga (a stiff levain) or a poolish (100% hydration and commercial yeast, allowed to ferment around 12 hours). Each of these forms of preferments have characteristics unique to themselves and contribute various traits to the finished dough. All of them, however, will lend flavour to a dough, increase its acidity and enhance the overall keeping ability of the finished loaf. Additionally, they add a layer of complexity to an already complex process.

Natural starters require regular and timely refreshment: The yeast and bacterial cultures eventually will consume the readily available sugars found in the flour and water mixture they are living. Once these sugars are consumed, the culture will start to change to favour certain other types of yeast and bacteria, which will alter its affect on the dough.

The single most important rule to maintain a natural yeast culture is consistent refreshment and temperature. Preferments that use commercial yeast (a sponge and poolish are two such examples) typically are fermented for much shorter periods of time and, as such, do not have to be refreshed. However, consistency is again the key consideration: Hydration, temperature and fermentation time all need to be maintained vigorously.

Well-mixed dough

Once flour and water and the other ingredients are added to the bowl, mixing begins. While many mixing techniques are available, each with its merits and strengths, the ultimate goal of mixing is to incorporate the ingredients, hydrate the flour particles and develop the gluten into an organized web that will give structure to the loaf and trap the gasses produced by the yeast.

The dough will start as a shaggy mass, but it will quickly begin to form into a coherent structure. Note that the baker is able to pull the dough into a thin, mostly clear window without the dough breaking. One must be aware not to mix the dough to full development because it will continue to develop and strengthen during fermentation.


The techniques used in shaping a loaf on the bench are as varied as the number of shapes and styles of loaves baked. But the desired goal is always the same: To transform the recently weighed and cut dough pieces into their final shape.

In many bakeries today this process is handled by equipment that can efficiently divide and mould the dough into the final shape; however, the principles are the same as in bakeries where shaping is done by hand. Shaping is largely governed by the interaction of stress and tension between the hands of the baker and the work bench.

First, the dough must be well made in that it exhibits the correct balance of elasticity and extensibility. If there is too much elasticity, the dough will resist shaping and either yield small tight loaves or will tear as the baker tries to force it into the proper shape. If there is too much extensibility, the dough will not hold its shaped form. Second, the dough has not relaxed enough, it will tear upon shaping.

Assuming both of the above requirements have been met, a baker will begin by gently flattening a dough piece into the desired shaped. If an open crumb structure is desired, then the whole shaping process must be performed gently. After flattening, the dough is next folded into to a preshaped form approximating the final shape. This will result in a rough shape with a seam. The final stage requires the most skill and in it the baker uses the strength of his hand and arms to seal the seam and then, either pushing or pulling the dough against the surface of the workbench to create a taut surface on the outside of the shaped dough piece. This piece then is transferred to a floured basket, tray or linen and allowed its final proof.

The same principles apply if a piece of equipment is used to shape the dough, and in fact, extra caution must be exercised in mechanically shaping the dough as, while a baker will make subtle adjustments to her hand and arm movements as the dough changes, equipment will not, and must be adjusted by hand.

Bulk fermentation and proofing

Bulk fermentation and proofing are the steps that allow the dough to develop further (a chemical development brought on by the increasing acidity of the dough), build flavor as a results of the yeast’s respiration, and gain volume wherein it develops the light, open structure. Bulk fermentation refers to the step in the baking process where the dough has finished being mixed and developed and is allowed to ferment in a large mass. Proofing most often refers to the stage after the dough has been cut and shaped and is the last major step before being loaded into the oven.

Bakeries manage these processes in many ways. Bulk fermentation often happens out in the bakery, with the dough rising in large tubs or removable mixer bolwls. This can be a single stage process or can be broken into timed segments marked by the dough being folded or degassed in some manner. Properly bulk-fermented dough will rise in volume and be light to the touch yet still resistant and often will hold the imprint of your finger after a gentle prodding.

Proofing most often takes place on racks with the shaped dough either in baskets or pans or on linen. The racks, if left out to proof in the bakery, must be covered so the dough does not dry out. If moved into a proof box, the racks can be left uncovered. The timing of these fermentation events can be strictly controlled if some sort of proofing/retarding system is employed, yet many bakeries lack the space and proof their dough in the ambient temperature of the bakery, which changes throughout the year. In this case, the dough must be monitored closely and timing of the bake must be considered carefully.

Touch is often the best indicator of a dough’s readiness for baking with good volume and slight resistance to the touch, along with a lingering indentation on the dough surface being signs that the loaf is nearing bake time.

Scoring the loaf

Well-executed, open cuts on a loaf, while visually appealing, are necessary for controlling the expansion of the loaf as it rapidly expands in the oven. The outer edge of the loaf, upon being exposed to the high heat of the oven, will start to set shortly after entering the oven. However, it will be several minutes before the interior of the loaf reaches a temperature at which the yeast is killed and stops producing carbon dioxide.

This almost guarantees that the pressure created within will burst through weak spots in the setting crust. To control this expansion, cuts, or scores, are made into the shaped loaf just prior to being loaded into the oven.

Many bakers will use a lame, a razor fitted to the end of thin metal strip, or sharp serrated knife. (The lame is the only suitable means to score a baguette). The cutting tool is firmly held in the hand at anywhere from approximately a 30 to 60º angle to the horizontal. The cut is not straight in nor is it just under the surface. The angle of the cut most often depends on the loaf being flatter and large rounds being steeper. The action is quick and precise so as not to drag the dough along the cut. Virtually any desing can be used; however, the baker should consider the ultimate effect these cuts will have on the shape of the finished loaf.

Three shades of color

The colour of the finished loaf is the final, critical step in the overall baking process, and its contribution to the overall appeal of the loaf should never be underestimated. The final color is not only a visual clue as to the success of the overall baking process but contributes much to the visual satisfaction of a well-baked loaf.

Colouring of the loaf occurs as the sugars in the dough are browned due to the heat of the oven. This browning contributes a significant amount of flavor the crust and, once cooled, to the crumb as well. Bakers often look for three distinct colour regions along the cuts in their loaves: a dark, almost burnt ridge along the top of the cut, ranging through a tan region, and finally a creamy whitish area in the interior of the cut. Colour can provide clues pointing to problems in the baking process. For example, an over fermented dough can often have a lighter crust colour because the fermentation process has consumed too much of the sugar in the dough, leaving an insufficient amount for the final browning that takes place in the oven. A dough without sufficient salt also will be quite pale in colour.


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Researchers reveal way to optimise antioxidant levels in baked goods

December 10th, 2010
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A method involving rapid baking at lower temperatures coupled with the addition of acidulents could increase residual natural source antioxidants in baked foods, new research has found

The authors, who published their findings in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, found that blue corn-containing cookies baked with citric acid in a convection oven retained the maximum total anthocyanin content (TAC).

“Cookies serve as a satisfactory model for baked food systems to demonstrate how manipulating ingredients and processing conditions can improve anthocyanin retention yet retain acceptable cookie properties,” concluded the researchers.

The authors explained that blue corn (maize) contains high levels of anthocyanins – pink to purple water-soluble flavonoids that are naturally occurring pigments in many fruits and red wine and have claimed health benefits.

In both in vitro and in vivo studies, anthocyanins tend to reduce cancer cell proliferation and inhibit tumour formation, report the team, who added that research has demonstrated that anthocyanins also protect against cardiovascular disease.

However, anthocyanins are sensitive to degradation by high pH, light and temperature, and the researchers said the focus of their study was thus on how pH changes (acidulents) and oven type affect the residual anthocyanin content of cookies containing blue corn.


A cookie formula with a high level of blue corn was developed with added acidulents including citric acid, lactic acid and glucono-?-lactone (GDL) and baked in ovens with different heat transfer coefficients.

An electric reel oven, a gas forced convection oven and an electric impingement oven were used to bake the cookies.

The best whole-grain blue corn flour/wheat pastry flour ratio (80:20 w/w), guar gum level (10 g kg?1, flour weight basis) and water level (215 g kg?1, flour weight basis) were determined based on response surface methodology analysis.

Acidulents were added to lower the pH in the cookies and reduce the decomposition of anthocyanins during baking.


Generally, the convection oven was more efficient in baking and retaining TAC in the blue corn cookies than was the reel oven.

“If the cookies were baked at 177°C for 7 min (TAC 130 mg kg?1) in the convection oven, the TAC remaining in the cookies was higher than when baking at the same temperature in the reel oven (115 mg kg?1),” found the researchers.

They said that this factor was explained by the higher heat transfer efficiency in the convection oven, which allows more heat-sensitive anthocyanins to survive during the shorter time.

“Based on product properties (diameter spread and surface character), 182°C and 4 min were identified as the baking conditions to retain both maximum TAC and the desired cookie characteristics,” concluded the team.

They added that GDL, citric acid and lactic acid all increased residual TAC in both the cookie dough and the final cookies but citric acid, with three replaceable hydrogen ions, retained the highest level of anthocyanin content in the cookies.

And the researchers maintain that the same procedure can be used to increase residual natural source antioxidants in other baked foods.

Source: Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture


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Phenolic acids deliver high antioxidant functionality in dough, study

November 13th, 2010
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Phenolic acids retain their antioxidant activity after the baking process, said researchers who claim their findings are critical in terms of the development of functional foods.

The authors, who published the results of their research in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, found that the antioxidant activity and free phenolic acid content were reduced by mixing but recovered after fermentation and baking.

Phenolic acid recovery after baking, they added, was between 74 and 80 per cent.

The researchers note that increasing consumer awareness of the health benefits of fruits and vegetables has prompted the development of bakery products containing whole wheat flour and the fortification of bakery products with fruits and vegetables with high antioxidant potentials.

But they report that their study was triggered by that fact that, to date, no studies have been published on the effect of baking on the phenolic acid content and antioxidant activity of wheat flour.

“Although the biological effects of phenolic acids in fresh vegetables and fruits have been studied, little is known about the biological effects of phenolic acids in bakery products such as cookies and bread,” said the authors.

Phenolic acid, a type of antioxidant, is abundant in whole grains and is present in high concentrations in aleurone cell walls and in the seed coat and embryo of wheat, which are removed during milling, but is not present in significant quantities in the endosperm.

As phenolic acids are susceptible to oxidation and degradation, exposure to light, oxygen and heat, conditions normally present during food processing, may accelerate the destruction of phenolic acids. “Therefore information on the stability of phenolic acids during food processing is important for evaluating the potential health benefits of foods containing phenolic acids,” said the team.

The researchers said that they investigated changes in the antioxidant potential of wheat flour when exposed to mechanical mixing, fermentation and baking. “In this model system, instead of adding vegetables and fruits as antioxidant sources, four different phenolic acids were added individually to the wheat flour and their antioxidant activities were determined at each step of the breadmaking process,” said the scientists involved.

Four phenolic acids, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, syringic acid and gallic acid, were mixed with wheat flour at a concentration of 4.44 µmol/g of flour, said the authors.

“This level of added phenolic acid was calculated to induce rapid breakdown of hard wheat flour dough in mixograph studies,” said the team.

The researchers said that optimum-mixed dough was defined as dough mixed until maximum elasticity was attained. It was divided into three portions. The first portion was lyophilised immediately, the second was fermented and then lyophilised and the third was fermented, baked and then lyophilised.

The team said that dough was fermented for 1 h at 30 °C and 85 ± 5 per cent relative humidity (RH) in a proofer. The fermented dough was then baked in the electrically heated deck oven, which had independently operated decks, at 200 °C (top) and 190 °C (bottom) for 20 minutes, they added.

The lyophilised unfermented dough, fermented dough and bread were ground, sieved through a 20-mesh screen, sealed in plastic bags and frozen until analysis, said the researchers.

They explained that the antioxidant potential of the acids was determined using the ?-carotene-bleaching activity assay, and free phenolic acid levels were determined by high-performance liquid chromatography.

Of the phenolic acids, caffeic acid had the most pronounced antioxidant effect, followed by ferulic acid, gallic acid and syringic acid, found the researchers.

“The initial antioxidant activity of caffeic acid (45.8 per cent) was not significantly changed by processing,” noted the team.

They added that their results showed the concentration of ferulic acid was the highest of the residual free phenolic acids after the baking process. “Although less added caffeic acid was recovered than added ferulic acid, caffeic acid made the greatest contribution to the antioxidant activity of bread,” concluded the researchers.

Source: Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture


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