Baking bread (mixing of dough, resting, loaf moulding, proving and baking)

Baking – looking at controlled mixing of the dough, resting, loaf moulding, proving and baking.

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Test baking relies not just on the production of the appropriate type of baked product but actually understanding the whole process as an experiment. Each sample of flour is uniquely coded as it has gone through the entire process. And then each formulation that is used is specific to that flour based on the work that has been done in the flour test in the laboratory. The formulation goes into a high-speed mixer, which works under fixed conditions.

Mixing process typically takes around three minutes within which a significant amount of energy is expended in moving the dough around the mixing chamber and developing the structure of the dough such that it will retain gas in the subsequent processes. The temperature of the dough has a significant influence on the way in which it processes subsequently within the baking process. As a result, it is a key element of control within the bakery context.

In test baking, therefore, we take great care in ensuring that the dough temperature is controlled during mixing and, therefore, that the dough is going into the rest of processing in a consistent way. Following mixing, the dough is then divided into individual pieces of a fixed width [SP] and those individual pieces are then given a preliminary round to allow the dough to be relatively unstressed. These rounded dough pieces are then left to rest for a period of seven minutes prior to going into the final molder. In the final molder, the dough pieces are transformed and shaped to that which is required for the final bread.

The dough is first flattened through a series of rollers. It is then rolled up into a coil using a curling chain. And then finally cut into four pieces which are reoriented to allow the characteristic structure required for so much bread production to be obtained. Those four pieces are then carefully placed in a pan and that pan goes into a proofer to allow the dough to rise for a period of 40 to 50 minutes. Once the dough has proofed the required length of time, it is taken immediately and placed in the oven for the final stage of the baking process.

Each loaf of bread is a sample in the same way as the wheat and flour was at the beginning. And so the individual characteristics of each of the loaves are of critical importance in understanding the overall quality of the flour. The characteristics of the loaves may be seen by looking both at the external aspects but more critically by looking at the crumb structure which we see internally.

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