On Sunday 8 October, Ireland won gold in the International Baker and Confectioners Competition at the IBA Exhibition, Munich, Germany.The Irish National Baking Team is made up of professional baking experts and is a partnership between the National Bakery School, DIT, Dublin and the Richemont Club Ireland.”Full credit is due to the Richemont Club Ireland and the National Bakery School for bringing the Irish baking industry to a whole new European and world-class level,” said Jimmy Griffin, president of Richemont Ireland.
Working with Italian firm MONDIAL FORNI, Norbake has introduced the Mondialmatic Steam Tube tunnel ovens, suitable for baking any size of bread and pastry products within a temperature range of 200?C and 270?C. The Mondialmatic Series ensure a large baking surface (up to 100sq m) within a minimum space due to its composition with three or four parallel baking decks, says the firm.Decks are heated by ring-shaped cold drawn, seamless, stainless steel steam tubes, different from any other heating technology as it is made up of a very resistant silent sealed closed circuit, which doesn’t need any maintenance, claims the company. It is environmentally friendly, while the heating fluid is normal water. All steam tubes are assembled on the furnace and on refractory ducts especially designed to ensure perfect heat distribution, high thermal capacity and low consumption (gas or gasoil), it is said.A wide range of accessories including automatic loading/unloading elevators, small bread tipping device, steam generator and bread unloading chute are also available.
Carr’s announced this week that operating profit in its milling business more than halved over the last year, to £1.1m (from £2.5m) on sales up 2.4% to £57m (from £55.7m).The profit decrease reflected the delays of passing on the full impact of the 80% increase in the price of wheat, the company revealed in its unaudited results for the 52-week period to 1 September 2007.”This price impacted the group’s flour milling business,” chairman Richard Inglewood said in a statement. “The company was unable to pass on increases in raw material costs, fully and immediately, to its customers.”The group only started to recover costs in August, with its first flour price increase. As grain prices rose sharply again after this, a second increase was needed and implemented this month.According to Carr’s, this had helped to lift margins, and as well as “significant” production and distribution costs, it hoped for a better year in 2008.
Coughlan’s of Croydon has received many compliments since it started selling solely Fairtrade coffee across its 22 Munch café outlets.Coughlan’s changed from an expensive premier Italian coffee to a Fairtrade Colombian bean, specially sourced for the company, and says customers have appreciated the change.”It’s the right thing to do, but it won’t put any more money in the till as it costs more to source,” said owner Sean Coughlan.
== Q What is Doughnut Week? ==A A fundraising week aimed at craft bakers nationwide designed to increase their profits and at the same time raise money for the Children’s Trust charity. This year it runs from 10 May to 17 May.== Q How can it help bakers increase profits? ==A Once they register, they are sent point-of-sale information by sponsor BakeMark. They also receive information on how to publicise their business locally, and in the shop. Doughnut Week has run for many years and proved a big success for publicising local shops.== Q What does the charity do? ==A The Children’s Trust helps children nationwide who have profound disabilities, often as a result of an accident or illness.== Q How do bakers register? ==A Go to [http://www.thechildrenstrust.org.uk/register]. Online the cost is £5 per shop up to £25 maximum for five shops or over. Alternatively, fill in the registration form that recently appeared in British Baker, costing £5 per shop – sorry no max because of added admin and postage – and send cheques for the total. Otherwise, if bakers need to phone, they can call me on my mobile: 07776 480 032.== Q What if I am not a customer of BakeMark? ==A It makes no difference, still register please. But BakeMark is offering a free 16kg bag of doughnut concentrate or a box of 36 ready-baked ring doughnuts. Above all, Doughnut Week is fun for staff and great for charity fundraising, publicity and profits – so please have a go!
A new Italian-style bakery, Il Valen-tino’s, in Dublin, has been trading since early this year. Owner Owen Doorly spent 13 years in Italy, working mainly on coffee roasting, and returned home to start up this bakery.Set beneath the very contemporary style ground floor shop and café, beside Grand Canal Harbour, Il Valentino’s is named in honour of St Valentine, the patron saint of romance, who is buried in Dublin and is also a word play on the name of Doorly’s Italian wife Valentina.Doorly bakes a wide range of Italian-style breads, crusty on the outside, soft on the inside, with a complexity of textures and crusts, using flour imported from Italy. He also makes plenty of pastries. The shop and café also sell many varieties of filled products, such as sandwiches.”I didn’t expect the huge amount of feedback that we’ve been getting from happy customers, very appreciative of what we are producing,” says Doorly.Setting up Il Valentino’s was quite an achievement. Doorly wanted to site his new business somewhere close to Dublin city centre, but getting the right location and premises took the best part of a year.With the help of Italian consultants, he kitted out the 110sq m bakery as he intended and believes Dublin was ready for a new-style bakery such as this. “There’s a keen consumer appetite for genuine artisan bakery products,” he says. “And there’s nothing else quite like Il Valentino’s in the city.”—-=== Pros and cons ===== Biggest challenges ==Whether the project was going to work. “You may have put everything into the venture but you don’t look so much at the risks but at the opportunities,” says Doorly.Risks associated with the start-up included getting enough finance together for the project, especially as he didn’t have a recent track record in Ireland, having worked abroad for so long.Now, says Doorly, one of the biggest challenges is getting enough staff of the right kind. Bakers who can produce this type of artisan Italian product are very hard to find in Ireland, he explains. Nearly all his bakers and his pastry chef have been recruited from Italy.== Greatest satisfaction ==Seeing the bakery get off the ground as he had planned. The whole project depended on customers arriving from day one, says Doorly. Word spread quickly, however and soon, an appreciative customer base began to develop.Marketing played a key role in minimising risks, once Il Valentino’s had opened. Consumer publicity, including in The Irish Times newspaper, has been a big help, he adds.—-=== Going it alone ===The brief: to set up a genuine Italian-style bakery, retailing outlet and café, producing authentic artisan-style products, both bread and confectionery. The aim of Il Valentino’s is to tap into the strong consumer demand in the Dublin area for genuine artisan bakery products, as opposed to plant bakery products.Retail market: residents and office workers in the new Grand Canal Harbour area of south Dublin, close to the River Liffey. About 3,000 apartments are being built in the immediate area, with around half already occupied. Il Valentino’s also wholesales to other retail outlets, including delis, within a 5km radius.Concept: a snazzy, contemporary-style retail outlet, strongly Italian in its decor, that includes a café area, serving bread and confectionery products made in the bakery beneath the shop, as well as a good variety of filled products, including sandwiches.Finance: 40% financed by owner Owen Doorly, with the balance from other sources, including start-up business finance from the Dublin City Enterprise Board.Staff: owner Owen Doorly plus four personnel in the bakery, including a master baker. A further four people are employed on the retail counter in the shop and in the café.Background: Owen Doorly had no previous experience in baking, but during his 13 years working in Italy, most of his work experience was in coffee roasting, which gave him plenty of manufacturing and retailing experience.
Claire Brown, national sales manager, weCAN SolutionsSo, you supply electronic point-of-sale (EPOS) systems into bakeries. Much interest?A few years ago, I asked the financial director of a large bakery firm, “Do you have a keyboard I can borrow?” My question was met with a quizzical, then a glazed look. “We bake bread, we don’t do IT,” she said.More concerned with bread than chips, then?Well, quite. But how to make IT work for their business is a common concern for bakers. Technology enhances a business process, it doesn’t shape it. For example, shop revenue comes from adding up the sales items, receiving payment, working out change and keeping the money safe. Using EPOS, exactly the same process occurs, but the computer removes any human error. EPOS systems typically increase takings by 3-5%. So it’s an easy-solve?There are so many IT solutions, it is difficult to know which is best. Ideally, it must be user-friendly and cost-effective. Better cash control and better price control will lead to increased profit. Any EPOS supplier should be prepared to back up this promise with concrete references.Great in theory, but managing a new IT system sounds like a headache.Finding time to implement a new system is crucial. Your supplier will help, of course, but you do need to invest some time if the system is to fit the business needs properly. With considered implementation, a successful IT and bakery partnership will lead to increased profits.
Waitrose is to relaunch its frozen range from 25 January 2010, and has said it is keen to educate consumers about the benefits of frozen food.The supermarket’s new range will feature a number of bakery products, including continental pastries, breads, pies and desserts.Its bread, croissant and pains au chocolat are exclusive to Waitrose and are made to traditional French recipes using French flour.The frozen range also features Waitrose Seriously chocolatey melt in the middle chocolate puddings, chicken and chestnut mushroom pies, steak and mushroom pies, woodland fruit pie and treacle tart.“Freezing food means that none of the nutrients or flavours are lost, so in my opinion it’s the best way to preserve food,” commented executive chef, Neil Nugent. Waitrose’s move reflects a rise in the fortunes of frozen products. A European bakery report by Rabobank, looking at the future of the industry, predicted that frozen bakery companies would be well-placed to make acquisitions due to higher margins.“Higher profitability can be attributed to the value-added nature of their products, which requires specialisation,” said the report.Recent TNS data also revealed that the value of frozen branded cakes and desserts increased 11.2% for the 52 weeks to 1 November 2009.
Paul Merry, a craft baker and teacher at Panary Breadmaking School, Dorset, continues the debateIn both the advertising world and industrial baking, the need for catchphrases is a powerful force for debasing language and broadening the appeal of certain phrases to a point where they tip over into meaninglessness. One of the first casualties I noticed was “homemade”. Seen on the side of lorries delivering industrially-made foodstuffs, soon any comparison between factory food and what could be made at home seemed merely humorous.With commercial bread, two similar casualties have been “craft” and, lately, “artisan”. For the corporate world, the term “craft” had an image that was ready to be borrowed, bastardised and debased. During the 1990s, I preferred to use the word “artisan” to refer to the baker or firm that was still actively engaged with the craft of fermentation. Although a tiny sector, the artisanal bakers could recognise each other fairly easily, and still do today. An initiative, spearheaded by bakery writer and consultant Dan Lepard to create a trade group called the British Association of Artisan Bakers, had trouble getting off the ground, mainly because hard-working artisan bakers never had time to devote to meetings.During the few that were held, it was challenging and exciting to find a suitable definition of the craftsman/artisan in order for the group to be able to identify those worthy to be its members. The charge of elitism reared its head during lengthy discussions that involved trying to find the code of practice that made a craftsman. Was the tradesman baker who used chemical “improvers” in his bread to be banned when he still worked dough by hand on a wooden bench with the obvious skills of a craftsman?During the past decade, I have now given up the word “artisan” and have been driven back to the words “craft” and “tradesman” baker. The craft baker can be forgiven for wanting some machines to speed up the process or boost the output capable of being produced by one session of work. But sometimes, the dough’s journey from mixer to oven is so steadily mechanised that the bakers can only be described as machine minders.So, for me, the main thing that indicates whether or not the bakery is a “craft” establishment is the inclusion of that process of constantly making judgements about the state of the dough and its readiness to go to the next stage. Most of these establishments, although mechanised, will also have the bakers shaping by hand those types of loaf, that cannot be properly turned out by the moulding machine. Similarly, there are types of loaves, like sourdough, where the moulding machine would be too rough hence they are done by hand.Another contentious word was “fresh”, but there is not sufficient time here to go into that story!
Wheat that is impervious to salt has been bred by a team of scientists in Australia.Using ‘non-GM’ crop breeding techniques, scientists from CSIRO Plant Industry introduced a salt-tolerant gene into a commercial durum wheat, which then achieved an improved grain yield of 25% in salty soils.Researchers at the University of Adelaide’s Waite Research Institute have been working to understand how the gene has delivered salinity tolerance to the plants. The authors of the study said that wild relatives of modern-day wheat remain a significant source of genes for a range of traits, including salinity tolerance. They discovered the new salt-tolerant gene in an ancestral cousin of modern-day wheat, Triticum monococcum. Doctor Rana Munns, CSIRO Plant Industry scientist, said: “This work is significant as salinity already affects over 20% of the world’s agricultural soils, and salinity poses an increasing threat to food production, due to climate change.”The paper’s senior author, Doctor Matthew Gilliham, added: “Salinity is a particular issue in the prime wheat-growing areas of Australia, the world’s second-largest wheat exporter after the USA. With the global population estimated to reach nine billion by 2050, and the demand for food expected to rise by 100% in this time, salt-tolerant crops will be an important tool to ensure future food security.”The research is the first of its kind to fully describe the improvement in salt tolerance of an agricultural crop – from understanding the function of the salt-tolerant genes in the lab, to demonstrating increased grain yields in the field, said the university.