NAMILCO brings international specialists to assist local bakeries

WHILE other manufacturers are intent on making profits a priority, the National Milling Company of Guyana Inc (NAMILCO) is more concerned with satisfying consumers’ needs and providing quality products to their clientele.

Namilco accordingly hosted a two-day seminar, dubbed ‘Future in Baking’, at Land of Canaan, East Bank Demerara, to effectively educate local bakers on the importance of product presentation, quality, and new innovative ways of securing profits, while at the same time providing customers with the highest quality products. This seminar was opened by its CEO, Mr. Bert Sukhai.

The services of international specialists Didier Rosada (Red Brick Consulting) and Miguel Galdos of the Engrain Entity were solicited to educate local bakeries on strategies to improve quality of the products they produce, thus keeping their customers satisfied. Detailed classroom sessions and practical theories to ensure bakers become acquainted with new and easy methods of meeting and securing customers’ interests were presented during the seminar.

In the first segment of the event, Presenter Miguel Galdos detailed, in his introduction to bakers, that only two baking processes were possible — the straight dough and indirect dough formulas. He explained that the main difference in each process was the fermentation time, which impacted the quality of the products.

Fermentation in the baking field refers to the conversion of sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide under the effect of (commercially or naturally occurring) bacteria.

Touching on the effects of fermentation, he emphasized that production of carbon dioxide (CO2) assures the proper rising of the dough and texture of the finished product. While he noted that the alcohol helps with aroma and flavour, he explained that acidity increases the strength of the dough and secures better shelf life of products, in that it lessens staling and molding.

The straight dough process is elaborated in only one step and with only one fermentation time. The advantage this creates is that it assures very short baking time. It however has a few drawbacks, in that best results are obtained with strong ‘high gluten flour’ with a lot of additives, which is more expensive. Products from this sort of flour have little flavour development and very short shelf life, resulting in low quality final products.

With the Indirect Dough Process, according to Mr. Galdos, the total flour from the formula is mixed in two steps. That is, a percentage of the flour is mixed with water yeast and salt, and the dough is then allowed to ferment under controlled conditions. This process is known as ‘Preferment’.

Preferment, of course, has its advantages, in that it provides the benefit of long first fermentation, which allows gas and alcohol production, production of aromas, and further its acidity production increases the strength of the dough, its flavour and its shelf life.

By the same token, this also allows a better work organisation in that fermentation is achieved before mixing the final dough. It shortens fermentation time, allows a more flexible production schedule, and the quantity of preferment can be adjusted depending on the desired length of the first fermentation.

Preferment also has a few setbacks in that extra mix is needed (in general the day before baking), and extra space is needed (room temperature and cooler space).
The main types of preferment are preferment dough (old dough), polish, sponge, biga and sourdough.
The origin of pre-fermented dough, according to the presenter, is that it was developed to compensate for the mediocre quality of bread produced using a straight dough process with short first fermentation. This could be any kind of dough with at least three hours of pre-fermentation. The regular baguette dough is always preferable. This allows a wide range of products and the retaining of traditional methods and practicability.

The Polish Dough is actually one of the first preferments elaborated with commercial yeast, and it was invented by Polish bakers and adapted in Austria and later France. It is a liquid preferment (100% hydration) with the quantity of yeast being calculated based on fermentation time. It could be used in many different products, and is also the preferment of choice for baguette dough.

The Sponge Dough, of course, originated in England, where it was used as a preferment in pan bread and also in the production of sweet dough. This type carries a stiffer preferment (60-63%), and the quantity of yeast is calculated based on the fermentation time. This could be used in many different products, but is preferable for the sweet dough.

As stated by Mr. Galdos, the Sourdough is the first leavening agent for bread, and the culture of the wild yeast and bacteria used to ferment final dough. The consistency could be liquid or stiff, and this preferment is perpetuated day after day. It could also be used in a lot of products.

The presenter told attendees that preferments are a very cheap and natural way to improve bread quality, and that the drawbacks can be easily overcome, allowing the baker to develop different flavour profiles, thus improving his/her baking performance.

In the second segment of this educative seminar, Presenter Didier Rosada dealt with the consumer tendencies in North America, Asia and Europe, where he said natural ingredients are used along with traditional baking processes. He noted that this allows for functional breads, low sodium content, and no gluten.

He explained that such tendencies started about ten years ago with the exception of the gluten-free and low sodium products. He said there is development of new equipment technology to produce breads using additional baking processes, but at an industrial level.

Mr. Rosada noted that this allows for highly hydrated dough, stress-free lines, and can be done in tunnel ovens with stone conveyor belts. He said that more space is dedicated to such technology during baking shows.

Teaching on the concept of the Gluten Free Method, he said dough is elaborated in only one step and with only one fermentation time. This, he said, guarantees a shorter baking process, but produces a strong high-gluten flour necessary with lots of additives (more expensive).
Another disadvantage is that it allows no flavour development, and has very short shelf life, thus resulting in lower quality products.

This presenter emphasised on the fact that the majority of small artisan bakeries are still producing without taking into consideration the new tendencies, which include the use of high gluten fours, pre-mixes, use of no-time dough process, high level of salt and ‘sugary fats’. These bakeries, he noted, have very little concept of marketing to increase their sales.

He said that in many countries bread consumption is not increasing because people are finding other healthier alternatives to bread. He added also that people are responding to the ‘Eat less Bread’ recommendations by medical entities, especially when breads are too rich in sugar and fat.

Mr. Rosada explained that baking seminars are effective in teaching bakers how to work with traditional processes, which allows cheaper and better quality products. He also mentioned that bakers need to ‘re-learn’ the values of the craft, and teach the newer generation what is a great bread.

He noted that offering a more complete product line (natural, functional and reality breads) is important, as well as creating a marketing concept to promote consumption.

According to this presenter, flours designed specifically for Artisan process should be offered at the mills’ level, which would see lower protein content, but good quality and a lower level of additives. While he said that the entire baking industry seeks support from the medical community to improve the image of bread, he said they should how ever let the consumer decide on their choices by making sure the traditional art of baking is not lost by using pre-mixes.
The very successful seminar was coordinated by Afeeze Khan.

Source: Guyana Chronicle By Alex Wayne