The rapid pace of change in food trends means there is a danger that some British baking traditions will get lost in the rush to innovate.But changing consumer appetites can also lead to the revival of traditional baking techniques.At the moment, we are entering a period where customers are learning to love a good crust once more. So here is a recipe that helps give an extra crisp by exhausting the dough through long fermentation.The recipe uses an old British technique known as the half-sponge, where half the dough liquid is mixed with an equal weight of flour taken from the total amount.By letting this sponge sit overnight at bakery temperature both the yeast and some stray lactic bacteria multiply to create a mixture with a powerful ability to ferment. This means that no further yeast needs to be added.Instead of malt, I add a small amount of dark ale, as it is easier to get hold of. Butter rounds the flavour slightly, leaving a label full of ingredients that deliver reassurance to the customer as well as a taste that is delicate and simple.Makes (raw weight) 5 x 550g plus 2 x 950g loavesFor the spongeStrong white flour – 875gWater – 875gYeast – 5g Either by hand or in the bowl of a large upright planetary mixer, dissolve the yeast in the water then add the flour. Mix for one to two minutes until roughly combined. Transfer to a storage container, making sure the mixture only half fills it. Cover, and leave at 21-24ºC for 18-24 hours.For the final doughSponge as above – 1.755kgAle – 175g or 25g dark dry malt and 150g waterWater – 875gStrong white flour – 1.75kgWholemeal flour – 175gSalt – 65gButter – 85gMethodAdd all the ingredients except the butter and salt to the bowl of a mixer for three minutes (slow), six minutes (fast), then add salt and mix for a further two minutes.Fold the dough every 45 minutes for two to 2.5 hours, or until a network of bubbles can be clearly seen when you cut into the dough with a knife. Keep the dough relatively cool during this bulk rise – around 21-24ºC is best. Scale, shape and leave to rise seam-side upwards on flour-dusted cloths, with the cloth pulled up between each row to stop the dough spreading and to stop the rows sticking to one another.Leave the dough again at 21-24ºC for two to three hours or until doubled in height, then upturn onto a peel or tray, slash down one side, and bake at 220ºC with a little steam, damper in, for 25 minutes.Pull the damper out, rotate the loaves and bake for a further 5-20 minutes until they are a rich golden brown and slightly singed on the cuts.
Bakehouse’s latest sweet pastry products include a Honey Nut Twist, a Toffee Nut Croquante and an Apple & Sultana Granola Slice.Following on from the success of the Surrey-based company’s savoury twist range, the Honey Nut Twist combines an all-butter pastry twist with a sweet honey filling, topped with cashew and hazelnut pieces and then Readyglazed, so there is no need to pre-glaze before baking.The new Bakehouse Toffee Nut Croquante is sweet with added crunch – with a creamy toffee and nut filling, then topped with nut pieces for a rich toasted flavour. There is no need for finishing the croquantes either, as they bake-off from frozen in 18 minutes.For consumers who prefer a lighter option, Bakehouse’s new Apple & Sultana Granola Slice has an apple and sultana filling and is topped with a granola and seed mix.
D ear employers, are you looking for workers who are skilled, physically fit, intelligent, selfless, ambitious and prepared to wait for advancement? Should they be adaptable, loyal, prepared to work long hours for low pay, educate themselves, train themselves and have little or no social life? If so, you need a baker – and you will have to go back 50 years in time to find him or her.The answer to this problem is that employers seem to know best. And that is the problem – there are too many experts who mostly know what they need, not what the employee/student/trainee needs.A few weeks ago, I was approached by a head-hunter, who told me that there are lots of jobs out there to fill. “We need new product development specialists, troubleshooters and technicians; employers are screaming out for them – how many can you supply?” he asked. “None,” I said, “they are spoken for.””What must we do?” he asked. I replied: “You must be prepared to talk to schools; improve bakers’ ’image’ out there and tell them about these jobs; work with colleges to improve the incoming stock of young people; and be prepared to wait a while for them to arrive.”So why am I not surprised not to hear from him again? There are those of you who just want to pick the plums, whereas men of vision plant trees – and seldom see the fruit.Why do most of the students/trainees come into the baking industry? The schools careers teachers send them because they think they cannot do anything else. Improved image is the key; most young people with a passion for food think “chef”, because chefs on TV dominate the channels and talk with enthusiasm about their food. What do bakers do? Well, we put some old person with a savoy piping bag on TV once every 10 years.Wake up, employers, your image is of an industry that works long hours, offers low pay and poor training – and now, HSE thinks we are at high risk from dust-related illness. This is what the intelligent kids are told about us. Young people need an industry with a vision of the future, which is prepared to invest in their education and training, wherever it is taking place.They need: school liaison via DVDs, giving a balanced view of the industry’s opportunities and promoting a new image; support with studies, time off and guaranteed attendance at an education unit to gain a qualification; sponsorship via scholarships; a career path; and a qualification that is respected by the industry and reflects both its needs and the needs of the student.The ragged remnants of colleges and those members of the baking industry with vision are banding together to create a plan for the future of bakery education and training. It hopes to put forward the needs of the wider industry and must have represented views from all sectors.You will soon be able to contact the Alliance for Bakery Students and Training and offer to help with a joined-up long-term strategy to make our industry a place where young people will want to work. n
Sixty per cent of people say workplace harassment has become increasingly common, figures from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) show.Indeed, Hell’s Kitchen and other television reality shows arguably legitimise rudeness and what might be construed as harassment. Such behaviour is acted out everywhere, from the playground to the boardroom, and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers has attacked such shows for giving bullies excuses for their behaviour.But a unanimous House of Lords decision, handed down on 12 July 2006 in Majrowski v Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust, has added teeth to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, which seeks to provide protection against bullying and similar harassment at work. An employee brought an action against his employer for harassment by the manager, in which the Lords held that the employer was both “vicariously liable” for the actions of the manager but also “strictly liable”. The employee alleging harassment would previously have taken action only against the perpetrator.Vicarious liability is second-hand – or substituted – liability arising from the actions of another, for whom you have some form of responsibility or control.Strict liability means that it is no defence that the employer took reasonable steps to prevent the employee from doing the acts complained of.what is harassment?The ruling means that, in future, employers will be liable if the harassment occurs, whether or not they knew about it and whether or not they took all reasonable steps to prevent such behaviour happening in the first place.Conciliation service ACAS says bullying and harassment is defined as “unwanted conduct that violates people’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment”. This may be persistent or an isolated incident.Mark Shrives, employment partner with Hammonds solicitors in Leeds, says employers need to consider new ways of dealing with bullying and harassment in the workplace. “There is a lot of work being done by schools to combat bullying and harassment, which is potentially capable of being translated into the work context.”He says that, rather than training employees on what they should not do in the workplace, they should focus on improving their interpersonal skills and talk to their work colleagues about issues.Andrew Lightburn, employment law specialist at another Leeds legal firm, Shulmans, says the only effective defence is prevention. “In the event that a grievance is made by a victim of bullying, it should be dealt with promptly and any employee found to have committed an act of bullying should be disciplined appropriately.”Jacky G Lesellier, managing director and founder of continental baker and patisserie Bagatelle, which has a factory in Park Royal, north-west London, and a shop in South Kensington, employs 10 different nationalities of staff. Apart from having to sack some people for making racist comments when he first arrived, he says, after 20 years in London he has not found inter-employee harassment to be an issue. He believes this is because he lays down firm rules about equality and respect at work and expects everyone to abide by them.times have changedLegislation and culture has changed things. The 61-year-old recalls people were “more rude” when he started work. “When you made mistakes at work, you sometimes got a boot in the arse – and you always remember that when you do the same job,” he says.If a business has a good management team, then its owners get a daily report of what is going on, so they would be aware if there was anything untoward happening, he adds. “Sometimes, if people are a bit rude, we tell them they cannot do that and tell them how to behave. You have to say there is a line not to be crossed.”Bob Butler is a joint partner with Claire Stein in Otterton Mill’s Organic Bakery, near Budleigh Salterton, Devon. He employs 52 people and says that, in four years, there have never been issues of harassment in the bakery. “We have a particular image and ethos. I’ve never allowed that to happen and people know that. We are fair and assertive at work.”But you will always get certain frictions between staff, he believes. “You can’t have 50 people working together without that happening. You have a quiet word with someone and ask them what’s going on. Most people get on well with each other.”Butler, who describes the House of Lords ruling as “nonsense”, says: “Common sense and an ethical policy govern most of what we do here.”lords’ ruling is ’awful’Diane Turner, a partner in Diane’s Pantry in Reepham, Norfolk, describes the House of Lords ruling as “awful”. She says that, although she only has two or three staff members, harassment could take place no matter how many people were employed in one place. “We certainly get niggles, but I wouldn’t have said you could call it harassment. But then maybe you don’t know it all.”She says she once lost a member of staff, possibly two, because of the behaviour of another employee. “There was a difference of character. That member of staff has gone now. They didn’t have the authority, but liked telling other people what to do. They were particularly bossy.”Turner reckons harassment was more commonplace 30 years ago, when she started out, and employees were made to feel inadequate. She worked in the catering department in Norwich Hospital, where she was made to peel vegetables all day. “It was a different generation,” she says. “You said, ’Yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir’. Now you [employers] hardly dare to do anything. You have to be very careful these days.”Jo Causon, director of marketing and corporate affairs at the CMI, says there is a major gap between what managers say they do to deal with harassment and the experiences of those who are being bullied at work.”No single off-the-shelf policy will suit every organisation, but the organisational culture and management style should make it clear that bullying is unacceptable. Shying away from the issue is no excuse,” he says.UK charity Ban Bullying at Work claims bullying is the leading cause of stress-related illness and the leading complaint from employees.Lyn Witheridge, founder, says: “We want both employers and employees to recognise how their own behaviour could have a negative impact on their colleagues and working environment.” n
Knowledge is power was the message from Tesco’s in-store bakery category manager at the autumn British Society of Baking (BSB) conference. Neil Franklin, who probably has more of both these commodities at his fingertips than many others in the baking industry, said suppliers are not employing supermarket sales data enough.Franklin, formerly of British Bakeries, gave a frank assessment of the supply chain’s shortcomings. His message was: when it comes to understanding consumers and making future plans, many in-store bakery suppliers are off the pace.But while suppliers are already gritting their teeth over massive ingredient price hikes, sweating over how to pass those costs on to the multiples, delegates were told there is plenty of opportunity to grow their business in partnership with Tesco, as long as they question their approach to future strategy. Too often, buyers’ questions about long-term plans are being met with a mute response, he said.”It always comes back to ’what’s the plan?’ I don’t think all our suppliers could articulate that right now. There’s nothing greater for us than someone saying, ’Actually, you should be going after this area because we’ve researched it and you’d be the first to market on it’. We’ll build those plans up together in the partnership,” said Franklin.Suppliers were not taking advantage of Tesco Link – a free web-based tool that contains store-specific electronic point-of-sale information as well as stock level data. This offers data on what products are being sold, volume, values and how they compare to the key KPIs within the in-store bakery.”The worrying thing is that not all of our suppliers are using it,” he said. “As a business, we will look at our numbers daily – probably even more frequently; I’m not sure how any business can get by without actually understanding the sales through the till.”Furthermore, Tesco’s Clubcard data system, by Dunnhumby, also available to suppliers, is not being checked by them regularly enough, he said. “It gives us the insight into how our promotions are working, what level of loyalty it has, what potential there is for a product’s growth and where it’s ranked in its category. From that you can draw out the broader trends, and it’s available to all our suppliers.”Franklin urged suppliers to ditch the mindset that a product’s life story ends when it reaches the Tesco depot. “The more you understand your customer, the greater the opportunity to grow your business. If it’s getting through the depots, but not through the till, then what fundamentally is going wrong? Is there something within our systems that we need to be challenged on?” he asked. “Sharing your objectives in terms of what volumes you’re trying to gain and the value you’re hoping to deliver is perfectly achievable.”Meanwhile, Franklin gave a broad hint that scratch-baking will play a bigger role in the future of Tesco’s in-store bakeries and would not be squeezed out by bake-off. A new training regime is being implemented in Tesco’s 500 scratch-bake and 200 part-bake bakeries to address admitted failures in its bakery training programmes. Training of coaches is under way and the programme will be rolling out across the entire estate over the next year.”We didn’t feel we had the right level of capability in our training programmes,” he said. “One of the core things you’d expect of an in-store bakery training programme is how to make a loaf of bread. Rather embarrassingly, ours didn’t. So we’ve revisited the whole programme, putting in four levels from bronze to masterclass and it’s a bit of a Jedi programme. If we don’t address the fundamental issues – the capability and understanding of how to make the product – then we’re throwing away good money after bad.”Despite the rise of bake-off, Franklin would like to promote more scratch-baking of core breads. “It’s vitally important that we seek to move to more scratch solutions, but, where we can, also have the right level of bake-off operation. Customers’ quality perceptions for bakery are second only to fresh produce, so it’s an important department. Some stores may wish to do bake-off because it’s simpler, but we feel the customer prefers scratch over bake-off any day.”While premium lines have dri-ven NPD in the category, it has yet to be seen whether rising mortgage rates and food inflation will destabilise premium-bound consumer purchasing habits. Premium sectors are driving growth, but innovation should not revolve around this, he insisted.”In bakery, we have a lot of indulgent products. If the belt is tightening, what are you going to sacrifice – the £800 plasma screen TV or the £1 packet of doughnuts? We’re looking ahead and as soon as the answer pops out, we’ll adjust our trends accordingly. For me, innovation has to orientate around all our pillar brands. That’s an approach I would seek from all our suppliers. We’re a broad church and customer trends are changing.” n—-=== Conference notes ===Suppliers could do more to improve availability – only 15% of shoppers say they get everything they want from a visit to any supermarketNPD should be focused across the whole spectrum of bakery – not just premiumTesco has begun a new in-store bakery training programme to strengthen its scratch bakery offeringSuppliers need to monitor product sales data daily and have a more comprehensive depot-to-till approach, alongside long-term sales strategies
DuPont has launched the DuPont Tyvek Dual coverall, designed to offer flexibility, breathability and added durability.The Category III, Type 5 and 6 protective garment features front and sleeves made entirely from Tyvek fabric and a back panel made of DuPont’s composite technology (ACT) fabric. The Tyvek material offers protection against fine particles and fibres, and repels water-based liquids.The garment has been designed with industries like baking in mind, where hazards would mainly be face on, but where comfort and movement is as important as protection.[http://www.dpp-europe.com]
Latte is the new lager, according to new research commissioned by Costa Coffee. The survey, conducted by market research agency Opinion Matters, revealed that coffee shops have overtaken pubs as the UK’s favourite social hang-out.Of the people surveyed, 72% were said to prefer coffee shops to pubs for catching up with friends, and 85% chose coffee shops as their top spot to meet up for a chat. “It is quite clear that UK coffee shops have become an integral part of everyday life,” commented John Derkach, managing director of Costa Coffee.Jeffrey Young, MD of strategy consultancy firm Allegra said: “With more than 50% of the UK adult population using coffee shops at least once per month, and more than a quarter of consumers visiting at least once per week, coffee shops are now more mainstream than pubs. These outlets deliver comfortable ’third space’ environments, where consumers feel free to relax, socialise, eat, drink or just take some ’me time’.”
Student and trainee bakers up and down the country are gearing up for the annual Alliance for Bakery Students and Trainees (ABST) conference, which takes place from 1-3 May 2009.The conference is being held at the TLH Leisure Resort in Torquay, Devon, and features a host of activities, as well as student bakery competitions and the AGM.The Friday night is Silly Hat Night, and there will be a buffet dinner, pub quiz and karaoke. Saturday will see the judging of the bakery competitions, as well as a ten-pin bowling competition, gala dinner and live band.The AGM will take place on Sunday, as well as the prize- giving, the ten-pin bowling final, a disco and a casino.Students can attend for an all-inclusive price of £75, and a maximum of two tutors can go for the price of one student.There are many cash prizes on offer for the various contests, including Calfornia Raisins’ competition, where a top prize of a £500 travel voucher is up for grabs. There are two categories – one for baking and one for confectionery – and students need to create innovative recipes using California Raisins, raisin paste or raisin juice concentrate. For more information contact [email protected] transport pick-ups are available from Leeds, Black- pool, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Sheffield and London.l To book tickets and rooms, please contact [email protected] bakemark.co.uk.
Jim WinshipDirector, British Sandwich AssociationThe news that Bream UK, a sandwich manufacturer in Southall, London, has been fined £20,000 for hygiene-related offences highlights an increasing unease in the sandwich industry over poor standards.The concerns arise due to some smaller producers struggling and seeking to cut corners and prices to stay in business, plus the influx of new entrants who have little or no food handling experience and often do not appreciate the risks associated with making short shelf-life chilled foods.The fear for everyone is the potential risk to consumers and the damage that could be done to the market by a serious incident of food poisoning caused by one of these operations.Although the British Sandwich Association introduced minimum standards for making sandwiches in both manufacturing and foodservice over 18 years ago, some operators still do not meet the basics it believes necessary to run a sandwich business. Yet more worrying is the fact that some commercial buyers are prepared to buy sandwiches from manufacturers without asking questions. Yet no prosecutions seem to have been made regarding their responsibilities under due diligence.With the vast majority of sandwich manufacturers nowadays accredited (and audited) by the Association, there really should be no excuses for buyers not to check out their suppliers.Also, some operators in the sandwich bar market are seeking to expand their trade by supplying to third-party retailers without fully appreciating the potential consequences of adding shelf-life to products produced in a kitchen or bakery environment. This requires stringent production controls that most sandwich bars and bakers do not have.We need to get the message across to everyone particularly retail buyers that it is their responsibility to check out suppliers and that it is unacceptable to put consumer safety at risk by buying dirt cheap products for the sake of a few pence extra profit.
The Carbon Trust has challenged Britain’s plant bakers to come up with ways of improving energy efficiency, backed by co-funding of up to £500,000 per project.Allied Bakeries, Irwin’s and Jackson’s have already carried out initial studies with the government-funded organisation focusing on how to improve the combustion efficiency of ovens, introducing heat recovery processes, and reducing the thermal mass of baking tins. Reductions of around 8.5% in the sector’s carbon emissions could be achieved by addressing these areas alone, said the Carbon Trust.Bakery companies and equipment suppliers are now being invited to form consortia to develop new energy-efficient technologies, which could be replicated across the sector as part of the Carbon Trust’s Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator (IEEA) a £15m programme that aims to reduce energy use and carbon emissions in British industry. A similar project is being set up with flour millers. The Carbon Trust will provide up to £500,000 per project to fund a maximum of 60% of project costs.”In bakeries, the prover, oven and cooler account for the majority of energy consumption and CO2 emissions, so that is where we looked for savings,” said Al-Karim Govindji, technology acceleration manager at the Carbon Trust. “We found that heat loss from ovens can be cut significantly if excess air levels are reduced with automated control systems.”Allied, Premier and Warburtons account for over 50% of carbon emissions in the baking sector, said the Trust. The entire sector emits approximately 570,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, whch could be reduced by over 25% through good practice and process innovation.Nick Law, operations director at Allied, said: “Energy consumption plays a significant con-tribution in the carbon footprint of our business. We now have a greater understanding of our energy usage, which is key to driving improvement to reduce the environmental impact of our business.”Further information on the project can be found at www.carbontrust.co.uk/ieea.