Creating a sourdough ‘starter’ – which involves developing your own yeast culture rather than adding yeast to the mix – entails mixing flour, water, and other ingredients that have been colonised by wild airborne bacteria.A sourdough starter contains a strain of yeast that is tolerant of the lactic and acetic acids produced by the lactobacilli, giving the bread its unique tang.For bakers considering developing their own starter, the best tip for a successful sourdough is to reduce the risk of microbial contamination from other sources as much as possible.The conditions in a mother dough need to be controlled to ensure the continued reproduction of yeast cells.If the dough becomes contaminated with other micro-organisms – yeasts, moulds and bacteria – and the storage conditions favour those micro-organisms rather than the yeast (all micro-organisms have their own favoured food and growth conditions controlled by temperature and pH), then development of ‘off flavours’ and loss of performance can become a real problem.Here are Dan Lepard’s top tips for better sourdoughsStart with an active, bubbling, acidic leaven mixed with equal quantities of flour and water, without the addition of commercial yeast.Starter Every 24 hours you should hold back one-fifth and replace what was used in baking with fresh flour and water stirred in well.Regular replenishment with flour and water is essential as it is a living thing that will respond to regular rather than intermittent feeding.The acidity will ensure that the mixture stays hostile to bad bacteria and other organisms, and will keep it fresh tasting and healthy.Recipe & methodAdd 30-40% active leaven to flour weight and water to take the dough moisture percentage to 65-70% (allow for the flour and water in the sourdough). Mix and then wait.Extend the bulk fermentation until you can see clear signs of fermentation in the dough and only then divide and shape.Time You might find that you want to chill the dough between shifts to slow down the fermentation, as it is no good if the dough ripens when there is nobody in the bakery to scale and shape it.Equally, if it is looking a bit sluggish then you might want to increase the amount of leaven in the dough. Some bakers take the percentage up to 60-70% to create a big sour tang to the crumb.ProvingWith sourdough or other naturally leavened breads everything takes longer. So bakers often use a soft dough to encourage the fermentation, but this tends to flow if left on a tray.So some sort of containment, like flour-dusted baskets or cloths, that trap the dough and force it upwards rather than outwards, is needed. It will need a deft hand to quickly upturn and roll the proved fragile dough onto a peel without degassing it, then to slash it quickly without it deflating. But it is just knack, not a tricky skill.Strong floursThe longer the fermentation, the better strong flour will perform. The lightest loaves will come from strong white flour, but sometimes the flavour is a bit thin.So try using 70% strong white flour, 20% wholemeal flour and 10% dark rye flour for a big flavour and a relatively light loaf.
DESSERTS company Vittles Desserts is planning to expand its bakery in Leicester from 10,000sq ft to 14,000sq ft in the next 18 months. The £2.5m turnover company needs more space, primarily due to increased demand on the cheesecake side of its business, MD Martin Zalesny told British Baker. Vittles Desserts supplies coffee shops and own-label for foodservice customers including Booker and Delice de France.DURING March, April and May, ADM Milling will be offering users of its Bakers Mixes confectionery range a promotional competition. With a first prize of a family break to Alton Towers and runners-up prizes, the competition includes a complimentary point-of-sale pack.
The FOOD Standards Agency has bowed to pressure from food industry bodies including the Federation of Bakers with revised targets for salt content in foods including bread.The new voluntary targets, published on Tuesday include 1.1g salt (or 430mg sodium) per 100g on pre-packed bread and rolls by 2010. Targets will be reviewed in 2008, in the light of industry progress.All supermarket own-label bread, except that sold by Morrisons, is already below this target. Sainsbury’s leads the field with own label that boasts 0.8g per 100g salt content. Branded loaves are typically above the threshold at 1.25g salt per 100g.The FSA’s original targets aimed to reduce daily salt intake to 6g. They were set in February 2005 and included a proposal that salt content in bread should be reduced to 0.9g salt per 100g by 2010. This target was put up to 1g of salt per 100g in a consultation that started last year. The Federation of Bakers counter proposals were 1.25g salt per 100g.The new targets, which follow months of negotiation, are a “compromise we are not unhappy with”. Federation of Bakers director Gordon Polson told British Baker. The Federation is working with the FSA to provide average data to review progress against the new targets.Gordon Polson said: “Although we are happy to be working with the FSA on this issue, the reduction of salt in bread thus far has been immensely challenging for the entire industry due to technical issues as salt plays such a critical role in dough formation.”But anti-salt campaigner Professor Graham MacGregor accused bakers of “letting the British public down”, pointing out that bread is the main source of salt in the UK diet.He told British Baker: “Bread [salt content] is hardly going to be reduced any further than it stands at the moment. Talk about technical constraints is pulling the wool over consumers’ eyes. These new targets will only result in an 8g daily salt intake for the average consumer.”Professor MacGregor said the FSA is not to blame for the “erosion” of its original targets. He said: “The FSA has no power to legislate – only the Department of Health. It can only publish voluntary targets.”The new targets, which apply to 85 food categories, have been “set as challenging levels that will have a real impact on consumers intakes”, according to the FSA. They will help progress towards its target of bringing down average salt intakes to 6g a day, it said.
Bread prices have at last begun to rise, but this mainly reflects the mammoth increases in flour and energy prices. Our world poll on bread prices (pg 4), collated by the Economics Intelligence Unit, is up to date for September 2006. The places on the chart showing the price of bread in London and Manchester make shameful reading!But a turnaround is beginning. For years bread has often suffered negative press. Most of us who travelled and returned home to see economy white loaves filling the shelves and Atkins diet filling the media understood why.However, with health to the fore and fantastic ranges now available from premium white to white with bits, cottage loaves to pain de campagne, plus new ’healthy’ perceptions of brown, wholemeal, seeded and organic, things have definitely changed. Bread is achieving a new status alongside its new price, which goes through the £1 barrier for the first time this month in many shops and stores.Elevating the price will also elevate the image of bread and is one reason why the increase must be maintained. The flour and energy price rises have received national media coverage so consumers know why bread will cost more.Millers are also telling me organic bread sales are growing. The problem is availability of home-grown organic wheat – a topic I hope will be covered by Lord Peter Melchett of the Soil Association, who is due to give the annual City Food Lecture at Guildhall next week. The event is co-sponsored by the Real Good Food Company, which announced good results this week (pg 12).Also this week we find out how Greenhalgh’s craft bakery set about creating a new look (pg 23) and artisan bakers Barton & White cope with supplying the demanding restaurant trade (pg 26). On the industrial side, we speak to Maple Leaf, which is doing well in the bagel market and has completed a bold series of acquisitions (pg 18).Meanwhile, Budgens buyer Nick Hill outlines what suppliers need to know (pg 16) and in our Friday Essay BakeMark’s Vera Malhotra (pg 15) explains why the emphasis on health means rebalancing recipes is so important – are you aware of what’s going on?
Barry Callebaut, a major supplier of chocolate to the baking and confectionery industry, announced last week that sales volumes rose 10.6% for the three months ending November 30, 2007.Patrick De Maeseneire, CEO of Barry Callebaut, said the company had passed on the costs of higher raw materials to customers and enjoyed favourable exchange rates, primarily the appreciation of the euro against the company’s reporting currency, the Swiss franc.The Zurich-based company is present in 23 countries, operates more than 30 production facilities and employs 8,000 people.
There is less than a month left to register for the Baking Industry Summit 2008, on 27 November, so make sure you reserve your delegate place now. The Summit, which will focus on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), is taking place at One Great George Street, London, and will host a variety of top speakers, including Lucy Neville-Rolfe, executive director (corporate & legal affairs), Tesco.There will also be speakers from Asda, Greggs and Bells of Lazonby, as well as packaging and waste experts who have tackled bakery-based issues head-on and will share their experiences. To book a place, contact Helen Law on 01293 846587 or email [email protected] You can also book online at www.bakingsummit.co.uk. Ticket price: £225 + VAT.
Martin Clayton, bakery specialist at Morrisons, shares his thoughts on the supermarket’s goals for 2009At Morrisons we have the largest number of craft food specialists anywhere in the retail sector. This year we’re strengthening this position and launching a far-reaching programme to train new craft food specialists, including bakers, and it’s one of our two main focuses for this year.The Morrisons Fresh Food Academy, which is just getting under way, will train 18,000 food specialists in year one – including a huge number of bakers. The first qualification they will attain is NVQ Level 2, which is the equivalent of five GCSEs grade A-C, and ultimately our colleagues can progress up to NVQ Level 5 – which is the equivalent of a foundation university degree. By spring 2011, we’ll have put 100,000 people through this course. Making sure people are successfully enrolled, trained and supported through this training will be a big part of ensuring we can deliver our promise of freshness and value to our customers in 2009.The other major initiative we’re engaged in is the transformation of a whole host of Co-op and Somerfield stores into fully-fledged Morrisons stores – and in each one we’ll be aiming to include a comprehensive in-store bakery. For us, the big hopes for 2009 are to ensure that these two massive undertakings deliver on time and on budget, and enable us to continue to grow market share.
Lees Foods has seen its year-on-year pre-tax profit increase more than two-fold from £379,000 in 2008 to £843,000 in 2009.The Coatbridge-based firm also enjoyed a 13% sales rise to £18.2m in its final results for the year ended 31 December 2009. Gross profit was up 15% to £5.8m.Chief executive Clive Miquel commented that sales during the first quarter of 2010 were slightly ahead of the same period in 2009.He said the company had grown sales of its existing range of teacakes, snowballs, confectionery, ice cream cones and meringues, as well as introducing new products, and entering new markets with existing retail customers in the UK. It also started exporting to customers in Kuwait, France, the USA and Australia.”During the year we invested further in our production facilities, including the purchase of a new meringue depositor, which gives us increased capacity and greater flexibility in our meringue production,” said Miquel.”We have a planned programme of capital investment over the next three years, which includes the installation of new ovens during the first half of 2010. While we are focusing on organic growth we will look at complementary acquisition opportunities if and when these arise,” he added.
The number of UK bakery manufacturers and retail bakery businesses fell only slightly in the year to 22 March 2010, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).The figures, taken from a snapshot of the Inter Departmental Business Register, give details of the turnover, location and age of all UK companies by their VAT classifications.The total number of manufacturers of bread, fresh pastry and cakes fell by 1.56% to 1,885, from 1,915 in March 2009, while the total number of retail bakery businesses fell by only 10 (0.3%) to 3,130, and operated a total of 6,815 units. This contrasts with 2008-2009, where manufacturers grew by 5% and retailers fell by 7%.London contained the highest number of bakery retail businesses, selling bread, cakes, flour confectionery and sugar confectionery, with 420 firms, followed by the north west with 395.The north west contained the highest number of bread, fresh pastry and cakes manufacturers with 250, followed by London with 245. Scotland contained 165, Wales 125, and Northern Ireland 110. The ONS also listed 220 manufacturers of rusks, biscuits, preserved pastry goods and cakes.The north west also housed the highest number of bakery retail outlets with 860 units, compared with 775 in London and 340 in the north east. Scotland had 800 outlets, Wales 320, and Northern Ireland 260.The highest proportion of both bakery retail businesses and fresh bakery manufacturers had a turnover of £100-£249k, while only 25 retail businesses and 95 manufacturers achieved a turnover of £5m plus.The majority of bakery retail businesses (1,560) had been around for 10 years or more, with 415 less than two years old, while 1,555 manufacturers were 10 years old or more. The data is based on firms that turn over more than £67,000, which must register for VAT.
Coconut: Prices have remained extremely volatile, due to strong demand coupled with the disaster in Japan delaying some shipping of coconut from Asia.Raisins: In Turkey, residual stocks of unsold raisins are now all but clear. Weather permitting and taking into account their increased planted acreage, “normal service” could resume from August-September. From California, prices have stabilised.Sultanas: From Turkey, much of the unsold quantities from the reduced crop this season, are now sitting in the hands of origin processors, who are waiting to see how forward pricing will develop.Currants: The weaker sterling against the stronger euro has contributed towards firmer prices in the UK. There seems little to no chance for prices to weaken this side of the new crop in August.Apricots: Reports that the 2010 Turkish crop was close to the 75,000mt mark have resulted in some origin price improvement. A serious price correction over the last quarter of 2011 may ensue.Prunes: There are strong prospects for another good supply out of South America this season. Prices should be stable in the short to medium term.l Based on information supplied by RM Curtis